Current Event December 15, 2020
The state of Rhode Island is getting a name change. From its founding in 1643, the state’s official name has been Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Recently, though, voters elected to remove “and Providence Plantations.” The word “plantation” is commonly associated with large farms in the South worked by enslaved people before the Civil War, and the reference in the state’s name offended many people. Listen to learn more about the significance of the word “plantation,” and hear an indigenous resident explain what the name change means to her.
In Joseph Conrad’s 1899 novella "Heart of Darkness," an English sailor tells the tale of his voyage on the Congo River in Africa. The novel, which is set during the height of British imperialism in Africa, contrasts “civilized” Europeans with “uncivilized” African natives and describes the brutal treatment of Africans by European traders. Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe’s 1958 novel "Things Fall Apart" provides a contrast to Conrad’s story, describing the British colonization of Africa from the perspective of Africans. In this audio story, Achebe talks about how his understanding of "Heart of Darkness" changed over time.
Nigerian author Chinua Achebe published the novel "Things Fall Apart" in 1958. His story of a Nigerian man whose village and culture are overtaken by British colonial forces in the 1890s sold millions of copies and was translated into 50 languages. The novel was one of the first bestsellers written by an African author as African nations gained independence from European rulers. It was also one of the first works to tell the story of colonialism from an African perspective. Listen to this radio story to hear about the author’s lasting influence on writers and literature.
Current Event June 26, 2015
Napoleon Bonaparte is a controversial figure in France and Europe as a whole. The French Revolution began as a fight for democracy, but it ended with Napoleon Bonaparte naming himself emperor. Napoleon brought progress and equality through his Napoleonic Code, but he betrayed the revolution with his concentration of power and military expansion throughout Europe. Napoleon was defeated by English and Prussian forces for the final time at the Battle of Waterloo on June 18, 1815. As Belgium and England celebrate their victory 200 years later there is uncertainty in France about how to mark Napoleon’s defeat and remember his mixed legacy.