For a few decades now, teens have flocked to YA novels like The Hunger Games or The Fault in Our Stars. Why are they so popular? We talk to two novelists who say young adult fiction can help teens consider big issues and life and ‘practice’ their responses to real-world problems like violence and drugs.
Spring is almost here! That means it’s time to start thinking about gardens and landscaping. Expert Benjamin Vogt has a new way to garden, so that your property can be a place that looks nice, and also contributes to a healthy ecosystem that helps animal species and our planet thrive.
Benjamin Vogt, Garden Designer with Monarch Gardens and author, A New Garden Ethic: Cultivating Defiant Compassion for an Uncertain Future
Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine what’s new and old in entertainment.
Streaming TV services like Netflix and Hulu have revolutionized the medium, in part, simply by expanding access. Hundreds more scripted shows are being made right now than ever have before, and this has meant more diverse writers and creators. But Netflix, in particular, is responsible for another revolutionary idea: dropping entire seasons of shows all at once. It’s become something of a signature for the company, which encourages binge-watching entire seasons of shows like Stranger Things and Ozark in a day or a weekend. With that, many creators have started to say it feels like they’re making a 10-hour movie instead of a TV show.
And that line of thinking has been a little controversial. The problem with that thinking is that, of course, it isn’t a 10-hour movie, it’s a TV show. Critic Alan Sepinwall frequently notes that the nature of TV is episodic. Even if you encourage binge-watching, some viewers will go one episode at a time and each episode needs to be entertaining in its own right.
Well, Netflix may have finally answered the bell and delivered a show that truly feels like an actual extended-length film. It’s called Russian Doll, and it comprises of eight episodes that are each roughly 23 minutes in length. This makes the entire season a little over three hours long, which makes it actually feasible for a lot of people to watch it all in one sitting. And that might be the ideal watching situation.
Russian Doll is similar to Groundhog Day or Happy Death Day, in that it focuses on someone stuck in the same moment. Star Natasha Leon plays Nadia, who keeps dying and being reborn into the same moment at her birthday party.
Russian Doll is a bit of an enigma. It’s sort of like NBC’s The Good Place in its mysterious structure and the central theme of what we can accomplish when we all help each other.
Toward the beginning of the season, I was a bit confused, unsure what exactly I was watching. But around episode 3 or 4, the story really kicks in and it sprints through the finish line.
It is like a long movie, and it works well all at once. It also works well split in half or sure, episodically.
Between Alexa, Google and Siri, artificial intelligence is here. But looking forward, AI will only get more and more intelligent. Author and researcher James Rollins discusses why AI has long scared scientists and storytellers, and what the future of our technology could look like if we aren’t careful.
Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture–what’s new and old in entertainment.
Back in 2000, author Dave Eggers became a cult hero with his memoir titled A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. In it, he chronicled the death of both his parents and his role stewarding his younger brother in their absence.
Eggers is also the co-founder of McSweeney’s, a non-profit publisher that is known for its literary fiction quarterly journal, and has written an interesting collection of fiction and non-fiction in the ensuing years. In 2005, he was named a Time Magazine Most Influential Person. His 2012 novel A Hologram for the King was a finalist for the National Book Award and his myriad other books have been shortlisted and won prizes across the country.
Throughout his career, Eggers has pushed the boundaries of writing, and no book better illustrates his desire to innovate than his 2014 novel, Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever? It’s a book that consists only of dialogue. Each line is introduced with a single dash, and while it sounds complicated, the form actually makes it very straight-forward and easy to follow. It’s a revenge fantasy ethical debate featuring an unreliable main character who keeps kidnapping people.
Your Fathers, Where Are They? And The Prophets, Do They Live Forever? is a fascinating and challenging book. It certainly won’t be for everyone, but it’s a provocative quick-read and it’s unlike anything else I’ve ever read. Coming from an author with a pedigree like Eggers, it’s definitely worth reading and discussing.
There are millions incarcerated in American prisons, even many juveniles who were sentenced to long terms alongside adults. We talk to guests about how and why this happens, whether it should continue, and what life is like for young people behind bars.
Peter K. Enns, Associate Professor, Department of Government at Cornell University and author, Incarceration Nation: How the United States became the most punitive democracy in the world
Jean Trounstine, Professor, Middlesex Community College and author, Boy with a Knife: A story of murder, remorse, and a prisoner’s fight for justice
In the last few years, many high school teachers have changed how they are teaching civics in their classrooms. Rather than straying away from political discussions, many are using innovations in teaching to make their classrooms a space for students to engage with each other while discussing these controversial topics. Diana E. Hess, Dean of the School of Education at University of Wisconsin-Madison, and co-author of the book The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education, and co-author Paula McAvoy, Program Director for the Centers for Ethics & Education at University of Wisconsin-Madison, studied how classrooms engage in these activities. Their goal was to find out how to best facilitate these discussions and the positive benefits that they had on students.
During their research, Hess and McAvoy observed different ways to make class discussions conducive to learning. Hess explains that one way to ensure that students had a good experience was to inform the students beforehand of the topic, so they could do research and prepare. She also noticed that students had an understanding of how to engage in controversial discussions with each other, but still maintain relationships with each other after class. Hess states that it was also essential that teachers were capable of directing the conversations to ensure that all views were being expressed. Most importantly, instructors had to make sure that offensive statements were omitted. In order for political discussions to work properly in the classroom, both the teachers and the students had to understand how to interact with each other in a mature and educational manner.
So, what are the long-term effects that these discussions have on students? McAvoy explains that it encourages young people to get more involved with campaigns and take political action much earlier on in their lives. By encouraging students to think critically about controversial and political topics, teachers are able to foster development and excitement for political conversation in younger generations.
Diana E. Hess, Dean of the School of Education at University of Wisconsin-Madison, and co-author of The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education
Paula McAvoy, Program Director for the Centers for Ethics and Education at University of Wisconsin-Madison, and co-author of The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education