• Poetry

    by Tomasz Różycki, translated by Mira Rosenthal

    This world, along with several other worlds,
    can fit into the outside pocket of my backpack ...

  • Essay

    When the Public Narrative Fails

    In a Nation That's Lost Its Way, Literature—the Private Narratives of Others—Can Guide Us

    by David L. Ulin

    Leave it to Joan Didion. In her essay “Slouching Towards Bethlehem,” published in 1967, she identified ...

  • From The Archives

    Why Americans Invented the RV

    In 1915, New Creature Comforts Created by Technology Merged with the Back to Nature Movement

    by Terence Young

    On August 21, 1915, the Conklin family departed Huntington, New York on a cross-country camping trip ...

Essay

Surfing the Tides of History in Northern Chumash Land

White Men Have Long Dominated the Sport I Love—But the Status Quo Isn’t Set in Stone

by Maya Weeks

For health reasons I have to stay out of the water for the next couple weeks so I am dreaming about surfing, thinking about surfing, writing about surfing, doing everything but actually getting wet.
  In any given session I paddle over whitewash, holding myself up like I’m doing a pushup on the board while I paddle out toward the lineup to keep my momentum going, so I’m not pushed back towards the shore. The whitewater sweeps underneath me, brushes my nose, chills my hands. I paddle to take off—so much paddling, just always paddling—going right and gauge the angle of my rail in relation to the face of the wave. I balance. After the wave peters out and I paddle back out, I park myself in the water next to my board to pee and hope no shark swimming by mistakes my vertical body for a seal. I think about confidence.
  I sit on my log in the lineup, waiting, watching the horizon (no glasses, no contacts, just vibes) in between bits of conversation. I say hi to everybody; I’m from a small town. I call my board a log ...

Essay

How Do Pandemics End?

Argentina’s 19th-Century Cholera Outbreaks Show the Myth of a Single, Definitive Conclusion

by Carlos S. Dimas

The study of epidemics has routinely centered around what medical historian Charles Rosenberg calls a “dramaturgic structure”: a story of infection that builds to a climax of widespread illness and woe, and then comes to a definitive end. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has defied this structure, failing to come to a complete stop. But this is not the first time in history that the social and cultural impacts of an epidemic have continued past the time that the state and much of society declare that it is over. Epidemics often live far beyond their supposed ends. My research into 19th-century cholera epidemics in Argentina’s northwestern province of Tucumán shows that epidemics don’t have a single, definitive end, but instead two incomplete ones: the celebrated end when an authority declares the outbreak over, and the muted end brought about by gradual loss of interest.
  Three cholera epidemics befell Tucumán in the 19th century, in 1867-68, in 1886-87, and in 1894-95. Each time, the bacterium vibrio cholerae ...

  • The Takeaway

    Can California Lead a Reproductive Justice Movement?

    From Sister-Friends to 'Full-Spectrum' Doulas, the Golden State May Be a Model for Care

    by Jackie Mansky

    With wars playing a crucial role throughout history in shaping American influence and character—and with present-day conflicts devastating countries such as Ukraine and Yemen—Zócalo convened a panel to probe the question, “What is Our Responsibility for Our Government’s Wars?” ...

Inquiries