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A drunkard is challenged to walk in a straight line. Detail from Walking the Chalk (1838) by Charles Deas. Courtesy the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Essay/
Food and drink
Drunks and democrats

Violent, lively and brash, taverns were everywhere in early colonial America, embodying both its tumult and its promise

Vaughn Scribner

From The Moomins and the Great Flood (1945) by Tove Jansson. ©Moomin Characters™

Essay/
Stories and literature
Pippi and the Moomins

The antics in postwar Nordic children’s books left propaganda and prudery behind. We need this madcap spirit more than ever

Richard W Orange

Cologne Cathedral stands out from the rubble of a city destroyed during the Second World War. Photographed from a US spotter plane in September 1945. Photo by Bettmann/Getty

Essay/
History
Repetition and rupture

Reinhart Koselleck, the last great theorist of history, sought in the apparent chaos of events a science of experience

Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann

Carl Schmitt addresses the German Industry and Trade Day at the Kroll Opera House, Berlin, 8 April 1930. Photo by Ullstein Bild/Getty

Essay/
Political philosophy
Lawyer for the strongman

Demagogues do not rise on popular feeling alone but on the constitutional ideas of Weimar and Nazi legal theorist Carl Schmitt

David Dyzenhaus

From Piers Plowman (1427) by William Langdon. Bodleian Library MS. Douce 104. Courtesy the Bodleian Library, Oxford

Essay/
Language and linguistics
On gibberish

Babies babble, medieval rustics sing ‘trolly-lolly’, and jazz exults in bebop. What does all this wordplay mean for language?

Jenni Nuttall

The Death of General Wolfe (1770) by Benjamin West. Wolfe was killed during the Battle of Quebec (1759) that decided the fate of French lands in North America. Courtesy the National Gallery of Canada/Wikipedia

Essay/
History
Are there laws of history?

Historians believe that the past is irreducibly complex and the future wildly unpredictable. Scientists disagree. Who’s right?

Amanda Rees

Abigail Mary Allen and James Allen (The Female Husband); a hand-coloured etching and aquatint by Thomas Howell Jones (c1829). Courtesy the National Portrait Gallery, London

Essay/
History
Female husbands

Far from being a recent or 21st-century phenomenon, people have chosen, courageously, to trans gender throughout history

Jen Manion

Adolf Hitler greets German workers in 1934. Concern for workers’ rights was part of the initial appeal of fascist leaders. Photo by Heinrich Hoffmann/Ullstein Bild/Getty

Essay/
Politics and government
The lure of fascism

Fascism promised radical national renewal and supreme power to the people. Are we in danger of a fascist revival today?

Jonathan Wolff

Berlin, Potsdamer Platz (1932) by Carl Grossberg. Photo by AKG-Images

Essay/
Education
The scholar’s vocation

A century ago, Weber both diagnosed the ills of the corporatised, modern university, and pointed out the path beyond it

Chad Wellmon

The historical Buddha, preaching on Vulture Peak. Japanese, Nara period, 8th century. Courtesy the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Essay/
Religion
Who was the Buddha?

When we strip away the myths, such as his princely youth in a palace, a surprising picture of this enigmatic sage emerges

Alexander Wynne

Adoration of the Magi (1423) by Gentile da Fabriano. Courtesy Uffizi Gallery, Florence/Wikipedia

Essay/
History
Wonder works

History and philosophy should reveal to us the baffling, strange and wondrous qualities of other lives and other times

Marnie Hughes-Warrington

Lloyds Coffee House, which eventually became Lloyds of London. Photo by Bettmann/Getty

Essay/
Information and communication
Reddit, with wigs and ink

The first newspapers contained not high-minded journalism but hundreds of readers’ letters exchanging news with one another

Rachael Scarborough King

Detail from We Are Making a New World (1918) by Paul Nash. Courtesy the Imperial War Museum

Essay/
Thinkers and theories
The spirit of history

Hegel’s search for the universal patterns of history revealed a paradox: freedom is coming into being, but is never guaranteed

Terry Pinkard

Omar ibn Said c1850. Digitally colourised. Omar ibn Said’s autobiography is the only known extant autobiography of a slave written in Arabic in America. It was not edited by his owner, as those of other slaves written in English were, and is therefore surmised to be more authentic. It also attests to the high level of education that existed in Africa at the time and also reveals that many Africans who were brought to the United States as slaves were followers of Islam. Public domain via the Beinecke Library/Yale University

Essay/
History
Muslims of early America

Muslims came to America more than a century before Protestants, and in great numbers. How was their history forgotten?

Sam Haselby

Lice, or ‘worms with feet’, were a common cause for concern in the Middle Ages. From ‘The Golden Haggadah’ (c1320 CE), Spain. Manuscript courtesy of the Trustees of the British Library

Essay/
History
Medieval parasites

People in the Middle Ages took great care over cleanliness – except the clergy, who accepted filth as a sign of devotion

Katherine Harvey