What We Are Reading Today: Playing the Race Card by Linda Williams

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Updated 13 October 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Playing the Race Card by Linda Williams

The black man suffering at the hands of whites, the white woman sexually threatened by the black man. Both images have long been burned into the American conscience through popular entertainment, and today they exert a powerful and disturbing influence on Americans’ understanding of race. So argues Linda Williams in this boldly inquisitive book, where she probes the bitterly divisive racial sentiments aroused by such recent events as O. J. Simpson’s criminal trial. Williams, the author of Hard Core, explores how these images took root, beginning with melodramatic theater, where suffering characters acquire virtue through victimization.

The racial sympathies and hostilities that surfaced during the trial of the police in the beating of Rodney King and in the O. J. Simpson murder trial are grounded in the melodramatic forms of Uncle Tom’s Cabin and The Birth of a Nation. Williams finds that Stowe’s beaten black man and Griffith’s endangered white woman appear repeatedly throughout popular entertainment, promoting interracial understanding at one moment, interracial hate at another.


What We Are Reading Today: How to Be Content

Updated 21 October 2020

What We Are Reading Today: How to Be Content

Edited by Horace and Stephen Harrison

What are the secrets to a contented life? One of Rome’s greatest and most influential poets, Horace (65–8 BCE) has been cherished by readers for more than 2,000 years not only for his wit, style, and reflections on Roman society, but also for his wisdom about how to live a good life—above all else, a life of contentment in a world of materialistic excess and personal pressures.  In How to Be Content, Stephen Harrison, a leading authority on the poet, provides fresh, contemporary translations of poems from across Horace’s works that continue to offer important lessons about the good life, friendship, love, and death.

Living during the reign of Rome’s first emperor, Horace drew on Greek and Roman philosophy, especially Stoicism and Epicureanism, to write poems that reflect on how to live a thoughtful and moderate life amid mindless overconsumption, how to achieve and maintain true love and friendship, and how to face disaster and death with patience and courage.

From memorable counsel on the pointlessness of worrying about the future to valuable advice about living in the moment, these poems, by the man who famously advised us to carpe diem, or “harvest the day,” continue to provide brilliant meditations on perennial human problems.

Featuring translations of, and commentary on, complete poems from Horace’s Odes, Satires, Epistles, and Epodes, accompanied by the original Latin, How to Be Content is both an ideal introduction to Horace and a compelling book of timeless wisdom.