How a French Nobel Laureate Remembers Things Past

On Paper and Film, Annie Ernaux Probes History for Questions, Not Answers

Memory is an imperfect reflector of lived experience. We look back through a series of lenses, and our focal mechanisms shift with the light. Personal memory is shape-shifted by history—what is reported on, ruminated on, analyzed, assessed. It’s shaped by who we meet, what we see, and who we choose to see—and who chooses to see, or not see, us. Memory refracts experiences, processes and purees them.

What does the tension between memory and history—both personal and shared, the “I” and the “we”—teach us about both remembering and documenting our time …

Are We Ready to Listen to René Girard?

The Philosopher Saw a World of Scapegoats and Persecutors. On His 100th Birthday, His Insights Into Human Nature Are as Relevant as Ever

Years ago at a conference, French theorist René Girard faced a tough question about his unconventional methods.

The Stanford professor’s research involved a close reading of archaic and classical texts from …

Our Favorite Essays of 2022 | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Our Favorite Essays of 2022

From Behind Prison Walls to a Container Ship Out at Sea to the World’s Largest Refugee Camp, Zócalo’s Contributors Traversed the World to Report on the Human Condition

In 2022, Zócalo’s contributors reported from the front lines of a changing world, looking to foster conversation—and curiosity—about the way we live now.

While selecting just 10 essays from the scores …

Christmas, ’Tis the Season for Scary Stories | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Christmas, ’Tis the Season for Scary Stories

The Spectral Tales We Tell Respond to Our Deepest Desires—Especially on a Long, Dark Winter’s Night

Popularized by Charles Dickens in his 1843 A Christmas Carol, as well as in the yuletide editions of his literary magazine, All the Year Round, ghost stories were regular Christmas …

| Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Zócalo Editorial Director Eryn Brown

Atlanta Is a Place I Think About a Lot When I Think About the World

Eryn Brown is the editorial director of Zócalo Public Square. The moderator of the Zócalo/ALOUD program “How Does L.A. Inspire First-Time Novelists?,” she sat down in our green room to …

| Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Writer Fatimah Asghar

Community is Something You Build

Fatimah Asghar is a poet, novelist, filmmaker, educator, and performer. Their first novel, When We Were Sisters, was published in October. They are the writer and co-creator of Brown Girls, …