Roundtable

The Rest Is History

Treadmills, pope fashion, and lots of letters.

By Jaime Fuller

Friday, May 04, 2018

Post Office Department mail wagon, 1916. Photograph by Harris & Ewing. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Post Office Department mail wagon, 1916. Photograph by Harris & Ewing. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

• Zora Neale Hurston’s book about “the last survivor of the last slave ship to land on American shores” was finally published this month. Here’s an excerpt. (New York)

• Fifty years later, thinking about Gwendolyn Brooks’ Pulitzer win. (Shondaland)

• Unexpected origins: “Two hundred years ago, the treadmill was invented in England as a prison rehabilitation device. It was meant to cause the incarcerated to suffer and learn from their sweat. It would mill a bit of corn or pump some water as a bonus.” (JSTOR Daily)

• Reading Sylvia Plath’s letters: “I’d really love to have you call me: it’s always so exciting, even though I am more myself in letters.” (The Hudson Review)

• On the new lynching memorial: “We live in a moment when racism—explicit and unapologetic—has returned to a prominent place in American politics, both endorsed by and propagated through the Oval Office. And in that environment, a memorial to racial terrorism—one which indicts perpetrators as much as it honors victims—is the kind of provocation that we need, a vital and powerful statement against our national tendency to willful amnesia.” (Slate)

• The eternal need to rethink what canon even means: “Both Shakespeare and slaughter are part of the Enlightenment. Can we recognize both these faces of modernity? Not if we read only Shakespeare.” (The Washington Post)

• Behind the scenes of the Met’s new exhibit of Vatican fashion. (The New York Times)

• This week in obituaries: a Puerto Rican poet who died in 1953; an “iconic whimsical sparkly handbag genius”; the illustrator of The Fuzzy Duckling; and someone who believed, “If I can sit down behind the drums and get you to tap your feet or shake your butt, I’ve got you.”