America’s Anxiety About Anxiety: a Q&A With Dr. Rebecca Lester

        Performance anxiety, writer’s block, imposter syndrome, chronic stress. Social anxiety, attachment anxiety, existential anxiety, FOMO. Climate anxiety, tech anxiety, conspiracy theories, xenophobia. Overachievement, perfectionism, avoidance, hoarding. Hypochondria, insomnia, fear of aging, denial of death. We are a bundle. Spidery, creeping, impossible to ignore, anxiety spins uncertainties that cling no matter how […]

Missouri News in the 1870s: How People Died

        Let us end our time travel with death, the most revealing state of all. There was no privacy between the 1860s and 1880s; one learned from the newspaper exactly what ailed one’s neighbors. An awful lot of dropsy, the swelling we now call edema, and specifically, dropsy of the heart; also […]

Interesting Things I Found on the Internet, November Edition

        This little tidbit about a series of cholera outbreaks in Cleveland only caught my attention because of the city, not the illness. For some reason, I have bumped into Cleveland a lot this fall semester in a graduate class I am teaching on African American autobiography. William Wells Brown, the St. […]

Espionage in the Midwest

      “Xiang Haitao hasn’t posted lately” says his LinkedIn page. It lists him working as an advanced imaging scientist for Monsanto “2008 – Present”—which is a bit awkward, since it omits the economic espionage conviction that jailed and then deported him. What LinkedIn does not know is that Xiang quit in 2017—and booked […]

Beloved Though Befallen

Population 2,313, Wellston sits immediately north of University City, though most living and learning south of Delmar likely know it primarily for its Metro stop en route to the airport. On November 21, that changed, or started to change, at least, with the “Wellston Loop Family Reunion & Exhibit” organized by Steven Friedman and Washington […]

Policing Past Body, Mind and Heart

It is possible that I am the only person I know in the Washington University community who knows Ferguson moderately well. By that I mean, I knew it before Michael Brown, and I came to “reknow” it after. I toasted craft beers at its brewery, purchased late-night munchies at its Schnucks, navigated its rows of humble […]

Post-Apocalypse Aesthetics? A Pruitt-Igoe Walking Tour

“This is, genuinely, my idea of beauty. This is life after cities. This is life after humans.” We are staring at 57 acres of overgrown wildlife comprising the former Pruitt-Igoe, one of the most iconic modernist feats in the history of public housing, and also one of the most catastrophic failures. The “we” in question […]

Gate Debate: Forest Park & the Power of Peripheries

As the Gateway to the West, St. Louis might well also be called the Gateway to Ardent Gating. Arguably prescient of a national shift in civilian traffic from public space (parks, squares, promenades) to private (fitness centers, Apples stores, capacious motor vehicles) this gate-gusto has likewise contributed to a prevailing ethos of “keep out,” especially […]