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Paving the Road

A Sorority of Pioneers
The works of early Black female authors, poets, and artists created the literary landscape that propelled contemporary writers like Angela Davis, Toni Morrison, and and Maya Angelou. Cultural circles often overlooked those earlier efforts, marginalizing them to make space for more popular works. Still, in the midst of extensive civil and racial strife, brave pioneers dared to have their voices heard, their stories told. 

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Ephemeral Beauty

Ice Sculpture
Clear or frosted with the qualities of cut glass, sculptures carved from ice have a long history, even if they have a short lifespan. According to the British Broadcasting Corporation, ice sculpture has its origins in Alaska, Canada, and Greenland with the early Inuit peoples building shelters from snow and ice as far back as 4,000 years ago. The harvest of ice can be traced back to 600 BC in northwestern China.

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Parties to Bring in the New Year

International Yearly
Following the Northern Hemisphere’s longest night—the winter solstice—comes January 1, celebrated year-round as New Year’s Day. Beyond the lighted ball dropping in Times Square in New York and a plethora of party hats and badly sung renditions of “Aulde Lang Syne,” the world celebrates the advent of a new year with a medley of festivals.

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Eating Simply

Comfort Foods
In today’s frenetic world flavored with fusion cooking, sometimes it’s nice to come home to a traditional favorite. We call such dishes comfort food because it reminds us of home and simpler times. Lately, comfort food has acquired a bad rap for being overly laden with calories, salt, and fat. However, that’s exactly what we love about these longstanding favorites.

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A Howling Good Time

Storybook Wolves
Children’s literature is rife with monsters, usually evil and oftentimes taking the shape of wolves. The image of the wolf arises from ancient times when most people lived agrarian lives and feared large predators which killed their valuable livestock and, sometimes, people.

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Cicero

Death and Legacy
Marcus Tillius Cicero, Roman statesman, orator, and philosopher, is said to be one of the greatest orators and largest influence on the European literature. Through his numerous translations, letters, and orations, he introduced the Romans to the breadth of Greek philosophy and made a permanent mark on Latin by introducing new neologisms, rhetoric, and clarity of logic.

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What Is Fascism?

Who is Fascism?
Fascists, crypto-fascists, neo-fascists, nazi-fascist, fascist sympathizers, fascist tendencies … what does any of it mean?


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Black Panther Party

The Quest for Worldwide Liberation
Unrest caused by racial injustice reached fever pitch in 1960’s America. What laws for equality were passed through civil rights measures did not fully heal racial divisions, and continued antagonizing of African Americans by law enforcement only increased tensions. According to authors Bloom and Martin in Black Against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party, the Black Panther Party (BPP) rose up where they felt the Civil Rights Movement fell short, sparked by the question, “how would black people in America win not only formal citizenship rights, but actual economic and political power?” (p. 12)

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Lola Ridge

The Politics of Freedom
I love those spirits
That men stand off and point at,
Or shudder and hood up their souls—
Those ruined ones,
Where Liberty has lodged an hour
And passed like flame,
Bursting asunder the too small house. (The Ghetto and Other Poems, p. 47)
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France's Barbizon School

En Plein Air
France is often applauded for its couture fashion, fine cuisine, elegant architecture, and art movements.  Many art movements emerging from France include Rococo, French Impressionism, Fauvism, and the Barbizon School.
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Let's Dance

Cultural Dances Around the World
Celebration often includes dancing. Dancing’s also a great way to unwind, have some fun, and shake off some stress. Many cultures have their own dances, which carry aesthetic and symbolic value. They can be social, ceremonial, religious, liturgical, or competitive. Dances can also be erotic.   

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Hogmanay

Ringing in the New Year in Scotland
At this time of year all around the globe, people are planning festive New Year’s Eve celebrations. In New York City, revelers get ready to witness the spectacular ball dropping in the bustling Times Square. In Sydney, Australia, party-goers gear up to gather around the harbor to watch colorful bursts of fireworks illuminate the nighttime sky. In Scotland, revelers prepare for Hogmanay—a celebration of the winter solstice that traces its history back to the time of the Vikings.

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Inventions Gone Mainstream

From Military to Civilian Life
Many household products, such as bug repellant and frozen juice concentrate, and modern conveniences such as GPS technology were initially developed for military use. Their convenience, affordability, and ease of use mainstreamed them into civilian life.  

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Punk Rock

The Staying Power of Subversion
The progression of each genre of music from one era to the next contains within it elements of its predecessors. Soul music mirrors the call and response of gospel music; funk records reflect the spontaneity and creativity of jazz; the blues and country music retain the storytelling inherent in folk music. Punk rock, a genre that originated in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia in the mid 1970s, sought to distance itself from the relative sentimentality that characterized early 1970s rock and roll. Bands like the Ramones (New York), The Clash (London), and The Saints (Brisbane) employed more cacophonous sounds, politically and socially charged lyrics, and a sense of style and thought that would spawn a culture of its own.

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Boxing

The Undefeatable Hope of Fighters
While the tradition of pugilism or boxing spans millennia, over the past 100 years the sport has attracted and maintained an increasingly mainstream audience. The world recognizes world class champions, most of whom were born into society’s lower classes, including Joe Louis, Max Schmeling, Muhammad Ali, and Jack Dempsey. Recent boxing stars include, fighters like Mike Tyson, Manny Pacquiao, and Floyd Mayweather, each fighter’s paradigm defined by the hardships they endured. As exciting and respected as these athletes are, the sport in which they excel is a manifestation of macabre interest.    

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A Home Away

African-American Expatriate Writers
Authors present momentous ideas and philosophies to both contemporary and future readers. Early African-American writers realized that while their subject matter correlated directly to other African Americans, their work was far less likely to become included in the anthologies and respected canons of American literature between the 1930s and the 1960s. Expatriate writers, seeking asylum from a world that belittled—or even rejected—their artistic contributions, fled their country to find international publishers, critics, and fellow authors who would recognize the value of their work.

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The Butler Did It

History of the Mystery
According to Index Translationium, UNESCO’s database of book translations, the most translated author in the world is Agatha Christie. If that doesn’t convince you of the mystery genre’s enduring popularity, then nothing will.

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Curing What Ails

Treating Sickness
In their 2005 paper “Treating Critical Illness: The Importance of First Doing No Harm,” researchers Mervyn Singer and Paul Glynne report historical records showing that, “Barring the 1919 influenza pandemic, Armstrong et. al. reported an impressive 22-fold fall in crude mortality rates for infectious diseases in the US between 1900 and 1980.”  They further attribute the increase in survival as “unlikely to be due to advances in hospital medicine.” 

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Warming from the Inside

Hot Drinks
Especially in climes where frigid winter weather brings ice and snow, nothing warms a chilled body like a hot drink. Or at least that’s how it feels. Science debunks that fleeting sensation of warmth that affects—for a few seconds only—the hands and belly, but does not actually raise internal temperature. Scientists credit the “placebo effect” for the seeming ability of a hot drink to make one feel warm and toasty.

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Tales Beyond the North Pole

Christmas Stories
The Christmas season regales Western culture with a host of familiar stories, many of which were written in the 19th century. However, the season boasts stories and legends that hail from centuries or even millennia past. Perhaps not so familiar as A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and “The Night Before Christmas” by Clement Clarke Moore, these stories make for delightful reading for children and the young at heart.

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