Tag Archives: Culture & History

Culture: The American Scholar – Summer 2023


THE AMERICAN SCHOLAR SUMMER 2023 issue: What does Antoni van Leeuwenhoek have to do with Covid? Can a digital restoration of a supposed da Vinci be just as good as the real thing? What was it like to be a young journalist on one of François Truffaut’s sets?

A Kingdom of Little Animals

Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, in a circa 1680 painting by the Dutch artist Jan Verkolje, famous for his portraits of prominent members of Delft society (Wikimedia Commons)
Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, in a circa 1680 painting by the Dutch artist Jan Verkolje, famous for his portraits of prominent members of Delft society

Antoni van Leeuwenhoek’s discovery of microorganisms made possible the revolutionary advances in biology and medicine that continue to inform our Covid age

By Laura J. Snyder

One night in 1677, a grizzled man in a wrinkled linen nightshirt rushed from his bemused wife’s bed with a candle in hand to examine the “remains of conjugal coitus, immediately after ejaculation before six beats of the pulse.” Using the candle to cast a pool of light in his dark study, he put a drop of the liquid into a tiny glass vial he had blown himself, attaching it to the back of a strange-looking device he had also constructed. 

The Whole World in His Hands

The Salvator Mundi in its damaged state—cleaned but not yet restored (Wikimedia Commons)

What a digital restoration of the most expensive painting ever sold tells us about beauty, authenticity, and the fragility of existence

I got the call late on a summer afternoon. Yanai Segal, an artist I’ve known for years, asked me whether I’d heard of the Salvator Mundi—the painting attributed to Leonardo da Vinci that was lost for more than two centuries before resurfacing in New Orleans in 2005. I told him that I’d heard something of the story but that I didn’t remember the details. He had recently undertaken a project related to the painting, he said, and wanted to tell me about it. I was eager to hear more, but first I needed to remind myself of the basic facts. We agreed to speak again soon.


French Culture: A Family Run Restaurant’s ‘Bistro To Michelin Star’ Journey

FRANCE 24 (May 25, 2023) – In a small village deep in central France, the same family has run the “La Promenade” restaurant for four generations. The story began in 1960, when Lucienne created a small bistro. Then Jacky, the son, took over and won the first Michelin star in 1989.

Today, the grandson Fabrice watches over this mecca of French gastronomy, and now his son Clément is studying for his chef’s diploma. “La Promenade” is a moving family story, whose finest pages are perhaps yet to be written.

Travel & Culture: Secrets Of Mont-Saint-Michel

FRANCE 24 (May 24, 2023) – Located in France’s Normandy region, the Mont-Saint-Michel is one of the most iconic and photographed places in the country. Every year, the site attracts some 2.5 million visitors.

Built 1,000 years ago, the tidal island and its abbey, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979, have stood the test of time and survived through the centuries. Our France 2 colleagues report on some of its secrets, with FRANCE 24’s Guillaume Gougeon.

Travel: Lighthouses Of Ouessant Island, France

FRANCE 24 (May 18, 2023) – We take you to the westernmost point of France; the last piece of civilisation before the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean. Ouessant, located 25 kilometres off the Finistère coast in Brittany, is a rugged and fascinating island, where less than 500 people live all year round.

We meet a fisherwoman, a doctor and a photographer who appreciate its raw beauty. The island is also home to no less than five lighthouses that have guided generations of sailors along this fearsome coast. The locals call them the “heroes of Ouessant”.

Travel: France’s Most Beautiful Hiking Paths

FRANCE 24 (April 20, 2023) – Of the 370 long-distance hiking paths that criss-cross the French countryside, some in particular stand out. In Finistère, on the Atlantic, the Chemin du Pouldu merges with the Brittany coast. Its contrasts of green and blue have inspired many artists, such as French painter Paul Gauguin.

Down in the Cévennes, Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson gave his name to the Chemin Stevenson, where you can still come across donkeys. As for the route to Santiago de Compostela, one of the oldest long-distance hiking paths in France, it contains delights for the eyes and the soul.

Culture/History: The Many Lives Of Abbeys In France

FRANCE 24 (March 21, 2023) – Once important seats of Christian worship, and now treasures of the country’s heritage, French abbeys often have surprising histories. That’s the case of Fontevraud abbey, in the former duchy of Anjou. Run by a woman during its heyday, the abbey was turned into a prison after the French Revolution.

In Alsace, the abbey of Mont Sainte-Odile is famous for its supposedly miraculous spring water. Finally, on the outskirts of Montpellier, Valmagne abbey used to be a wine cellar. Visitors can still observe the gigantic barrels that were once used to store thousands of litres of wine.

Preview: The Smithsonian Magazine – Jan/Feb 2023

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Smithsonian Magazine – January/February 2023:

The Misunderstood Roman Empress Who Willed Her Way to the Top


A fresh view of Galla Placidia, who married a barbarian and ruled when the world power fell into chaos

Mesoamericans Have Been Using a 260-Day Ceremonial Calendar for Millennia

New research has the earliest evidence yet of when the timekeeping guide was used to mark the seasons

A New Discovery Puts Panama as the Site of the First Successful Slave Rebellion

Deep in the archives, a historian rescues the tale of brave maroons

Culture: The American Scholar – Winter 2023

Winter 2023

@TheAmScho Winter 2023 issue:

The Road to Paradise and Back

Fires in the West, hurricanes in the East—what it’s like on the ground as we confront our rapidly changing world

The Corals and the Capitalist

The key to avoiding an ecological catastrophe might be found in the wealth of nations and the spirit of innovation

Our Founding Contradiction

The entrenched dichotomy at the center of the national story