Phoebe Connelly

  • culture June 20, 2011

    Nom de Plume by Carmela Ciuraru

    The Arab Spring has produced many an engrossing story of individual courage. But the story of Amina Abdallah Araf al Omari, while certainly daring, inventive, and brash, isn't exactly inspiring. Amina, the purported author of the blog Gay Girl in Damascus, gained a small, dedicated following to her chronicle of life in Syria, where an uprising begun in late January of this year. Amina became "an unlikely hero of revolt," as The Guardian put it in a May profile, telling stories of her father protecting her from arrest by Syrian authorities and recounting her struggles to make sense of the change

  • culture February 08, 2011

    Revisiting Elizabeth Bishop

    When Elizabeth Bishop took on the job of New Yorker poetry critic in 1970, she wrote to her doctor Anny Baumann, "Writing any kind of prose, except an occasional story, seems to be almost impossible to me—I get stuck, am afraid of making generalizations that aren't true, feel I don't know enough, etc., etc." She failed to file a single review for three years, at which point The New Yorker decided to act as if the appointment had never occurred, so they could keep a good relationship with Bishop, who had been publishing poetry with the magazine for thirty years.

    Today marks the one-hundredth

  • Wild Unrest: Charlotte Perkins Gilman and the Making of “The Yellow Wallpaper”

    Published without remuneration by New England Magazine in 1892, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” is an account of a woman who, confined to bed with an unnamed illness, slowly loses her grip on reality. Though the author enjoyed some renown during her lifetime, she was mostly forgotten until feminists “rediscovered” the story and reissued it in 1973. Since then, it has occasioned nearly eight hundred publications and scholarly projects—no doubt because the woman’s madness, and her discovery of a woman trapped in the wallpaper of her room, can be read as everything

  • culture November 03, 2010

    What Was The Hipster? A Sociological Investigation, edited by n+1

    People are still talking about hipsters, but the topic seems to be increasingly self-referential. Is there anything left to say?

    "There should be no shame ever surrounding the love of or identification with a place, a way of life, a band, or a pair of glasses."

    —Maria Bustillos, from The Awl's "Being a Hipster Is An Excellent and Wonderful Thing!"

    It's difficult to get a grasp on What Was The Hipster? This is due in part to the very structure of the book: Divided into three sections, it includes a transcript of an April 2009 panel on the death of the hipster, five responses to the panel (two published at other media outlets, three elicited by n +1), and a final section of four essays loosely taking up the volume's

  • The Brand Plays On

    Corporations are struggling in the new millennium to connect with consumers. After all, as we’ve been told over and over again, in the brave new branded world of marketing, business is no longer about selling products or attracting customers; it’s about forging personal relationships. Grant McCracken realized that “the days of a simple-minded marketing, of finding and pushing 'hot buttons’—these days were over.” And so he conceived the Chief Culture Officer—the eponymous hero of his new book—who “has the weather maps” for the “North Sea [of culture] out of which commotion constantly storms.”

  • culture October 05, 2009

    Elizabeth Cady Stanton: An American Life by Lori D. Ginzberg

    In the introduction to her biography of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lori D. Ginzberg, a professor of history and women’s studies at Penn State, confesses that her previous writing has focused on “more ordinary women.” Perhaps that is what allowed Ginzberg to write an accessible, if slim, portrait of the pioneering women’s rights activist.

    Ginzberg gives equal attention to Stanton’s domestic concerns and her political ones. The suffragette came into the fight for women’s rights more by circumstance than by enterprise. Her marriage to antislavery lecturer Henry Stanton immersed her in the growing

  • Alimentary Education

    To read about food is, increasingly, to read about crisis. There are the main-course-and-divorce memoirs of a Betty Fussell, the restaurant tell-alls of an Anthony Bourdain, and—most alarmingly—the tainted-food jeremiads, such as Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation and Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, decrying how global agribusiness is environmentally unsustainable and bad for our health. Producing a mood of crisis about our sustenance is apparently supposed to heighten our determination to overhaul the way we cultivate, prepare, and think about food. But would-be reformers never quite