Prestigious Laura Ingalls Wilder Award Renamed Over Racial Insensitivity

“Wilder’s books are a product of her life experiences and perspective as a settler in America’s 1800s,” the association’s president, Jim Neal, and the president of the children’s division, Nina Lindsay, said in the statement. “Her works reflect dated cultural attitudes toward Indigenous people and people of color that contradict modern acceptance, celebration, and understanding of diverse communities.”

.. In the 1935 book “Little House on the Prairie,” for example, multiple characters espoused versions of the view that “the only good Indian was a dead Indian.” In one scene, a character describes Native Americans as “wild animals” undeserving of the land they lived on.

.. “There’s this subtle but very clear fear generated throughout the books,”

.. the books could be used to educate high school or college students, but were inappropriate for young children.

 

How Nations Recover

I’ve been especially interested in the way Britain revived itself between 1820 and 1848. Its comeback has some humbling lessons for us today.

Britain was roiled by economic and demographic changes. There were financial crises, bad harvests and a severe depression. There was crushing inequality. The average life expectancy nationwide was 40, but in the industrial cities of Manchester and Liverpool it was around 28.

.. The Chartists cohered around The People’s Charter, which had six demandsincluding universal male suffrage, vote by ballot and equal electoral districts. In 1842, the Chartists presented a petition to Parliament with three million signatures.

.. Finally, there was the Anti-Corn Law League. This was the best organized and best funded pressure group in 19th-century Britain. It promoted free-trade legislation to reduce the power of the landed gentry, to make food cheaper for the working classes and to encourage international exchange and cooperation.

..  Britain was blessed by a stable parliamentary system and by a legislative culture that valued deliberation and debate. Political leaders in both parties understood that the winds of change were blowing and they had better initiate reforms if they wanted to head off a revolution.

Why economists need Tolstoy

Economists can tell you that sanctioning a market for kidneys would raise the supply — maybe save lives — but someone else has to weigh the moral implications of auctioning body parts to the highest bidder.

.. why practice economics if not to try to improve people’s lives?

.. Many of the questions that economists study, such as why birthrates are higher in some places, or why some countries developed earlier, or why some high school students do not apply to the best college they could get into, could be better understood through a cultural lens.

.. They skewer Gary Becker, a Nobel Prize winner, for postulating that all human behavior is “maximizing” — that is, the product of a rational, self-interested calculation. And that, therefore, economics is “a valuable unified framework for understanding all human behavior,” including whom to marry and divorce, whether to have kids, whom to befriend.

.. Literature develops a feeling for how people will behave in ways that economic models cannot.

.. You don’t need a narrative to explain the orbit of Mars (Newton’s laws will do just fine), whereas to assert that a shortage of bread caused the French Revolution, you do.

..  At Stanford, about 45 percent of the main undergraduate faculty are in humanities, but only 15 percent of the students.

.. Then why read Shakespeare? If the reason (as the academy espouses) is simply to deconstruct the authorial “message,” why not just teach the message? Thus, “Les Miserables” could be reduced to “Help the Unfortunate.” And “Hamlet”: Stop moping and do something! No, the reason we read novels is for the experience that the words inspire.

.. History sadly mimics economics in an attempt to systemize, to discover immutable laws. Explanations must be scientific and universal. Contingency or chance — a famine, the timely arrival of a genius or madman, a scientific discovery — are presumed irrelevant. Humanities, ideally, should wrestle with uncertainty. It is a discipline of contingent truths,

 

 

These Male Authors Don’t Mind if You Think They’re Women

With psychological thrillers told from a female point of view a hot genre, male writers find an ambiguous pen name doesn’t hurt; trying on a bra.

Is Riley Sager, author of the new thriller “Final Girls,” a woman?The writer’s gender-neutral name won’t answer the question. Neither will the author biography on the book’s back flap, which avoids male or female pronouns, or the book-jacket photo, which is nonexistent. The website for the novelist features trees against a hot pink sky and the author’s Instagram account includes shots of books, desserts, animals and fruity cocktails.

While it isn’t exactly a secret that Riley Sager is the author Todd Ritter, it is fine with him if some people assume he’s female. In fact, it is good for business.

 .. The problem for men: Some fans doubt the authenticity of the female narrator’s voice when it is delivered by a male author.
.. The world has changed since the Brontë sisters and the woman born Mary Ann Evans, writing as George Eliot, had to disguise themselves with masculine-sounding pen names to be taken seriously. Women hold a large share of the power in the reading public. Last year, women bought 59% of all fiction, according to NPD Books.
.. A 2014 Goodreads survey of 20,000 male and 20,000 female participants on the site found that of the 50 books published that year that were most read by women, 46 were written by women.

.. The stakes are high for male writers not to make mistakes that female readers would catch. S.J. Watson—Steve Watson—tried on a bra in his office

.. The book refers to the undergarment at least seven times. If he had messed up a reference to bra mechanics, he said, his mother, one of his first readers, would have told him.

 .. If readers assume he’s a woman, Mr. Strong said, it signals to him that he wrote a believable female narrator. “At almost every event, someone will say, ‘Oh, I didn’t realize you weren’t a woman,’ and I’m always pleased.”

.. Mr. Thomas​ adopted the pen name on the advice of his all-female publishing team but he didn’t set up social-media accounts ​for it because he didn’t want to flesh out the fake identity. “We didn’t overtly lie,” he said. ​“It’s a cutthroat industry.”