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Heroic Myth to Little Green Men

Tales of Outer Space
Ancient astronomers discerned patterns of stars, constellations anchored by particularly bright points of light, and named them. The Western world knows these constellations mainly by their Greek names and through Greek myth: Cassiopeia, Orion, Pegasus, etc. Other cultures grouped constellations differently and assigned them different names in accordance to their mythologies and heroic traditions. From Lucian’s second century True History to 10th century Japan’s The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter to the Middle East’s medieval One Thousand and One Arabian Nights and throughout the millennia to the modern age, mankind’s fascination with the “Great Beyond” never ceases.

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Child Labor

A Brief History
Only in the latter half of the 20th century did the concept of a carefree childhood emerge as a right of all children rather than just the privileged few. Until then, parents and businesses viewed children as an abundant, renewable source of cheap labor. Low income and rural families especially relied upon the labor of children to contribute to put food on the table.

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Operation Overlord

World War II Snapshot
On June 6th, 1944, Operation Overlord commenced. It was the D-day to eclipse all other D-days, the World War II operation on a strategically unnamed day that marked the largest seaborne invasion in history. 

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Gay Pride Month

LGBTQ Writers of Immanence
June was designated as Gay Pride Month to commemorate the Stonewall Riots of June 28, 1969, a series of days that marked the breaking point of tensions between the LGBTQ communities and the New York City Police Department. It was the first major protest for LGBTQ rights in history.

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Poète Maudit

The Seer and the Forest Fire
“La race toujours maudite par les puissants de la terre.” Or, “The race that will always be cursed by the powerful ones of the earth,” wrote author Alfred De Vigny in his novel Stello. Poet Paul Verlaine put it to wider use in his own work to describe both writers and artists who were against or otherwise working outside mainstream society. 

And the “race” was called the poète maudit, cursed poet.

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World Refugee Day

The UN Convention
While a concerted effort at refugee relief is a relatively new enterprise, refugees are as old as war. In 1951, only six years after the end of World War II, the United Nations began to address the issue of refugees. The multilateral treaty known as the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees has been ratified a handful of times since and sets the terms for what is and is not a refugee.

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Brief History of American Comics

American comics have spent quite a lot of time in the pupal stage, though not without undergoing many changes and birthing many different styles throughout. 

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Practicing Mindfulness

In today’s fast-paced digital era, many people yearn for some leisure time. When they finally have some highly coveted down time, rather than indulging in the moment—a silent stroll through the park attuned to the beauty and serenity that abounds—they spend their time talking on their phones, browsing Facebook, and keeping their minds super busy.

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Up In Smoke

Observed on May 31st, World No Tobacco Day is held annually in destinations around the world. It encourages a 24-hour period of abstinence from all forms of tobacco. The day also generates awareness of the negative health effects associated with tobacco such as lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, and more.

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World Turtle Day

Making Slow Strides
Celebrate World Turtle Day on May 23rd. The American Tortoise Rescue, a nonprofit organization founded to protect turtles and tortoises, and their vanishing habitats, established this commemorative holiday in 2000 to encourage people to boost their knowledge of both creatures. 

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Transportation, Fairy Tale Style

Written in a pre-industrial age, transportation in fairy tales typically finds itself restricted to walking on one’s own two feet, riding on horseback or in a carriage pulled by horses, or sailing on a ship. Modern writers, particularly those who write within the genre of historical fiction or pre-industrial, or steampunk fantasy, also rely on those standard forms of transportation, although they often get it wrong.

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The “See-Food” Diet

Diet and nutrition fill over a quarter million pages of text within the World Library’s virtual bookshelves. GoodReads lists 43,181 titles focused on food and drink, and Amazon’s search results for “diet” yields 186,133 titles for printed books and 30,071 e-book titles. Titles focusing on what and when to eat tout their food and drink regimens as the answer to many problems related to health, energy, and moral character.

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Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

As of 2014, The U.S. Census Bureau estimated that there were about 20.3 million American residents who were Asian or mixed with Asian, as well as an additional 1.5 million Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders. The celebration was chosen to be in May to honor both the first immigration of Japanese to the United States, in May 1843, and the completion of the transcontinental railroad, in May 1869, by mostly Chinese immigrants.

According to the official Asian/Pacific American Heritage website, the rather broad term Asian/Pacific includes all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji, and the Solomon Islands), Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, and the Federated States of Micronesia) and Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia, and Easter Island). It’s a much more diverse group than many might realize. 
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Moving Abroad

Expat Writers and Artists
Immigration continues to be a hot topic in cities worldwide. A variety of factors—war, economic opportunity, religious freedom, etc.—drive it. According to information released by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 244 million people lived abroad in 2015—an increase of 71 million since 2000.

Top destinations for immigration include the U.S., Germany, and the U.K. A recent article in The Telegraph, published in London, states that “rates of immigration are increasing in the world—with immigrants consisting of 12.1 percent of the world’s population in 2005, compared to 13.2 percent in 2015.” 

Not only have social and political factors motivated people to flee their homelands over the course of history, but so have literature and the arts served as inspiration for many. 
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World Red Cross Day

World of Good
When disaster strikes—whether it’s a devastating natural event such as a powerful hurricane or earthquake, a health outbreak such as Ebola, or a mass evacuation of people fleeing war-torn countries, Red Cross organizations around the globe are quick to respond. 

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Mother Goose

Children’s First Literature
The first literature often introduced to children in the Western world consisted of the rhymes and fairy tales published under the anonymous Mother Goose. This fabled wise woman is often depicted as an archetypal country woman or, yes, a goose wearing a peasant dress and shawl.

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Anti-Intellectualism

A Non-Comprehensive Compilation of Facts of Feelings
A poll was taken in 2014, that revealed one in four Americans thinks that the sun revolves around Earth. Most people agree that global warming is real, but many of these same people believe that it will only affect other people. Non-scientists argue with scientists and doctors about whether vaccines are good or bad. Are these three ideas latent traces of a manifest-your-own destiny, a power-of-the-mind ability to turn feelings into facts? 

This is the battle of intellectualism versus anti-intellectualism.
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A Brief History of Science Fiction

The early canonical works of science fiction have been disputed over the years. Aspects of science fiction such as redesign, post-apocalyptic landscapes, and gods as characters rather than religions, can be found scattered in mythologies and old texts like Gilgamesh. A little closer in our history, we can see dystopian societies and flying islands used satirically in Gulliver’s Travels. Then in 1818, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was born, and most scholars contend that this was the first sci-fi novel. 

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The Limerick and Its Failure to Kick the Bucket

Hard thinking and hard living, the philosopher and the soldier, action and non-action, sense and nonsense, East and West: the ever-critical human has always been prone to compartmentalize things into black and white. We pit things against their opposites and take sides like it’s a sport.

Sense and nonsense—there needs to be a little bridge in between the two that serves as a connector, divider, and just a simple place to watch the big river roll by. This is where the limerick came in:

There was an Old Man of Nantucket,
Who kept all his cash in a bucket,
His daughter, called Nan,
Ran away with a man,
And as for the bucket, Nantucket.

From Princeton Tiger, Issue 1902
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Dancing Through Literature

Coventry University in London (United Kingdom, not Ohio) offers a multidisciplinary symposium on the enduring relationship between dance and literature. That relationship has existed since ancient Egyptian times, such that dance “appears frequently across drama, poetry, and fiction to the many dance and physical theatre works based on literary sources.” 

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