Marjane Satrapi Talks Writing & Freedom

by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein November 2, 2014

“The world can go to hell if you have at least one person to lean on.”  — Marjane Satrapi This past Friday, writer and filmmaker Marjane Satrapi spoke about her life to a room full of high school students at the First Methodist Church in downtown Chicago. As part of the Chicago Humanities Festival, Marjane […]

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Changing Stories, Stories for Change

by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein April 7, 2014

  We know a good story can change us. But can our stories really change society? Writers, poets, journalists, arts educators, and cultural activists based in and around Dar es Salaam, Tanzania convened on Saturday March 8 at Soma Book Cafe to explore the link between art and social change in a one-day workshop organized […]

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In the not quite recall hours, deceptive advertizing begins

by Rebecca Lehmann January 8, 2012

While the rest of the nation is focused on the Republican presidential primary, here in Wisconsin, we are thinking about another looming election: the recall election of Governor Scott Walker. You probably remember Governor Walker from early 2011, when he pushed through legislation stripping public employees of their union rights, causing several Democrat state senators […]

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What to do about student loan debt?

by Rebecca Lehmann November 15, 2011

In a recent series of opinion articles on The New York Times website, various thinkers ponder the wisdom and efficacy of the changes to student loan debt repayment proposed by Obama: that borrowers be able to consolidate loans at a slightly lower rate, that Income Based Repayment plans be made more accessible, and that loan […]

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Occupy Stone Town, Zanzibar?

by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein October 30, 2011

I should be working right now. But I am preoccupied by the occupations. All around the world, from New York City to Rome, Boston to Barcelona, Miami to Moscow, every day citizens have organized to occupy the centres of financial power that have for decades caused and perpetuated gaps between rich and poor. There’s been […]

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Political poetry

by Rebecca Lehmann October 16, 2011

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about poems. My first book of poems is about to come out (obligatory self endorsement), I’ve been teaching poetry in all three of my classes (one a creative writing class, one a composition class, one a glorious class on contemporary poets in which I get to teach all my […]

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Tax the rich!

by Rebecca Lehmann September 18, 2011

Today’s New York Times reported, in a front page article, that President Obama plans to push a tax plan which will tax any Americans making over a million dollars a year at the same rate at which middle-class Americans are taxed. This new tax system would replace or revamp the alternative minimum tax, and has […]

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Langston Hughes in Paradise

by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein May 12, 2011

In the later part of his life, the poet Langston Hughes made several trips to Africa, presenting and leading writing workshops all the way from Nigeria to Uganda. Some say he emerged as an official celebrity in Africa when, in Senegal, he delivered a pivotal speech entitled “Black Writers in a Troubled World,” declaring that […]

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Media, Sensationalism and Media Sensationalism

by Jeff McMahon May 10, 2011

Lauren Berlant speaking on media sensationalism? I couldn’ t miss that. So I found my way to the University of Chicago’s Gleacher Center to have a listen. Only to find out I’d overlooked the comma between media and sensationalism. Lauren Berlant is an English professor at the University of Chicago, but that title can’t contain […]

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If a tree falls in the forest …

by Annie Murphy May 6, 2011

I wrote something potentially (academically) dangerous earlier: “If a professor speaks and if nobody listens, did the professor speak?” I didn’t intend this as a condemnation of professors; quite the opposite, I hoped pull in the common adage, “If a tree falls in a forest …” to illustrate the disconnection between the so-called ivory tower […]

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Oh. My. Osama. Oh. My. God(dafi).

by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein May 6, 2011

Is it unpatriotic to say that Osama bin Laden had nice eyes? In the twenty-four rippling hours following reports of bin Laden’s death and burial at sea, I’m left scrolling through his public photo album online, staring at images of bin Laden as a young soldier in Afghanistan, a young revolutionary with hints of Che-spirit, […]

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Reaction to a reaction to a reaction

by Annie Murphy May 2, 2011

Although I generally do not like to hear pop stars’ opinions on politics, or politicians’ opinions about pop culture—the operative principle being, “if you don’t have anything informed to say, don’t say anything at all”—I’m going to stretch (and/or violate, depending on your perspective of my perspective) that norm. That is, as a student of […]

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The Robin Hood Party

by Rebecca Lehmann April 17, 2011

After watching the Tea Party rallies which took place over the weekend in places like Florida and Madison, Wisconsin, held by reality-TV show star Donald Trump and reality-TV show star/former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, I began to think that those of us Democrats who believe in fiscal responsibility via raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans […]

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Maji, maji, where’s my maji? Living with Zanzibar’s severe water crisis

by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein March 30, 2011

I just had another flurry of rude text message exchanges with my landlord, Mohammed. The subject? Maji. (Water). No running water now for days. No shower. No cooking. No cleaning. No water. I called him, no answer. Then I texted him. His response? Sijui. (I don’t know [what to tell you.] Texted him again: say […]

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Examining the exam: Form IV failure or fraud?

by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein March 16, 2011

Is there really beauty in failure? We sometimes romanticize failure as a kind of revelation. Honey in the garbage heap, lesson in the crease. But lately I’ve been thinking about schooling. We advocate a certain kind of failure, risk, and experimentation as essential pedagogical values in the progressive classroom, and that’s beautiful. But I’m talking […]

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