Hamlet Is a Suicide Text—It’s Time to Teach It Like One

A Scholar of Shakespeare Sees Perils and Possibilities in the Bard's Plays, and His Own Experience

I once tried to commit suicide. Twenty years later, it’s still hard to talk about. I didn’t want to die. Self-esteem issues, depression, alcoholism. I was signaling, in an unhealthy way, that I was in pain and needed help. A better way would have been to call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255). It was the age of Nirvana. Depression and suicide were in the air in U.S. teen culture. A close friend had moved away from our small Midwestern town. Beforehand, he started acting out. A few …

There’s a Special Place in Dante’s Purgatory for Wafflers and Neutral Souls | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

There’s a Special Place in Dante’s Inferno for Wafflers and Neutral Souls

From MLK and JFK to Gavin Newsom, Dante’s Misquoters Still Get to the Heart of the Poet's Disdain for Moral Cowardice

Dante’s Divine Comedy, an epic poem recounting the Florentine’s journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, remains the go-to guide to the afterlife, the world’s most famous travelogue for the great …

In 1910, Jack London Saw COVID Coming  | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

In 1910, Jack London Saw COVID Coming 

In The Scarlet Plague, the California Author Imagined a 21st-Century Epidemic Hitting the Bay Area and the World

Jack London saw this coming. So why didn’t we?

In 1910 the California author, already famous for The Call of the Wild and White Fang, wrote a short post-apocalyptic …

How Venezuela’s Oil Riches Fueled a Literary Explosion

In the Mid-20th Century, Writers Seized on the Conflicts Laid Bare by Petroleum's Power to Reshape Society

On December 14, 1922, a gusher of petroleum was discovered in Zulia, a rural area of western Venezuela. For nine days the oil showered onto the surrounding farmland, scaring the …

How a Pakistani Novelist and Translator Learned to Love Dictionaries

The Books He Once Saw as 'Villainous' and 'Unwieldy' Helped Him Introduce Children to Urdu Classical Literature

An image from a winter morning in Hyderabad, Pakistan, when I was four, forms my earliest memory of literacy.

Bundled up in layers of sweaters, I am reciting from an …