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Jane Austen Has Finally Landed in the Cosplay Space

Portrait of Jane Austen © Culture Club/Getty Images

Editor's Note:

Also in this week’s Signature Need-to-Know: Everything schoolkids aren’t learning about race, and a billionaire’s scheme to block a book release.

In 2018, every imaginable fandom serves as inspiration for cosplay and LARPing  – even Jane Austen. After happening upon a group of women (and a few men) going about in Regency dress, writer Alison Flood fell down the rabbit-hole of the Jane Austen Pineapple Appreciation Society, which congregates regularly in England. Just don’t call them re-enactors: “We like to have non-historically accurate fun,” one of them tells Flood. “Cards Against Humanity, she points out, is ‘very un-Regency,’ but they’ve designed their own version, and think Austen herself might have enjoyed their games. ‘She was quite a cynical person really and had a real sense of humour, a wry wit.'”

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Another tell-all, another claim that Trump didn’t actually want to be president, has landed. Among the eye-opening claims in Stormy Daniels’ new book Full Disclosure, we hear a familiar refrain that’s persisted even since before Fire & Fury: that Trump’s candidacy was itself the biggest troll of all time, and that he hadn’t counted on actually winning. This is one of several themes recurring throughout the various presidential exposes of the past year, but Daniels’ book in particular is not for the faint of heart, as according to The Guardian, she recalls the President’s genitals in “excruciating detail.” (Naturally, late night TV hosts descended on these descriptions with zeal.) In its assessment of the leaked segments, the NY Times says the book contains “few bombshells,” but is guaranteed to rattle the White House nonetheless.

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Literacy remains a perpetual concern among American educators, but unless special attention is paid to “racial literacy” as well, kids are likely to learn all the wrong lessons from what they read. That’s the subject of an NBC news op-ed written by Robin DiAngelo, author of this year’s White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, who offers the example of Jackie Robinson’s history-making baseball career, explained two different ways. The standard view only emphasizes certain figures’ exceptional successes, instead of exploring the reality of the conditions they (and others) faced, never really “naming what those barriers were, who put them there, [or] how they were removed.” Over time, this framing produces citizens who believe that “nice people with good intentions” couldn’t possibly be participating in (or benefiting from) the “racism” they grew up learning about.

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Our nation’s battles over education have only just begun: Texas is attempting to “streamline” social studies curricula so that learning about historic figures such as Helen Keller, Barry Goldwater, or Hillary Clinton would no longer be mandatory, allowing educators to teach around certain persons political, no matter how significant their contributions might have been. (As Texas state Rep. Chris Turner tweeted Friday: “@HillaryClinton is the 1st and only woman to be the presidential nominee of a major party in U.S. history. Enough said.”) Also, while the state has minted a new Mexican-American studies course, the article points out that they’re still struggling over whether defenders of the Alamo in the famous 1836 battle are allowed to be characterized as “heroic.”

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Further west, Arizona State Superintendent Diane Douglas has chosen a controversial figure to set new standards for how creationism will be taught in schools. Joseph Kezele believes that Earth is just 6,000 years old, and that there was plenty of room for dinosaurs on Noah’s ark, and that Biblical theories deserve to be taught side-by-side with scientifically supported facts about evolution. “I’m not saying to put the Bible into the classroom, although the real science will confirm the Bible,” Kezele told the Phoenix New Times this week. “Students can draw their own conclusions when they see what the real science actually shows.”

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Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – that oft-cited chart that maps out what humans need to not only survive, but thrive – has become a battleground on the web due to research that shows Abraham Maslow’s research was heavily influenced by spiritual teachings of the Blackfeet Nation, which he received during time he spent with members of the tribe in Canada. While the result cited in classrooms today is a “Westernized” version, scholars are now deciding how to make sure First Nation people are cited alongside Maslow when the subject is taught in class. (As you’ll see in the link, there are plenty who would rather debunk or discard Maslow’s work altogether than take a moment to consider its true origins.)

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The transformation of Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court hearings into a sexual misconduct investigation has revealed a crucial fact: the anger of women has been stoked hotter than ever, and is unlikely to cool down anytime soon. In this excerpt from her new book Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger, Rebecca Traister points out that, despite whatever fretful male senators may think, “This is the way democracy is supposed to work — and the reason these men are getting so upset is that the force of female protest right now feels like it has the potential to shake our power structure to its core.” Examining significant movements over the past seventy years through the eyes of women whose dismay crystallized into action, Traister shows how Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford joins the ranks of figures like Anita Hill and Angela Davis, sacrificing what’s left of a “normal” life in order to set the record straight.

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In an attempt to “short-circuit” the legal process,  Malaysian financier Jho Low is trying to make sure no one reads the new book Billion Dollar Whale (in which Wall Street Journal reporters Bradley Hope and Tom Wright explain how Low raided billions of dollars from a Malaysian state-owned investment fund, a case currently being investigated U.S. government). According to The Guardian, his campaign of sending threatening letters to bookstores has resulted in the book being “effectively blocked from distribution in the UK,” and stores around the world have received similar letters promising legal action if the book (which went on sale this week) is stocked.

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“Could there be a more cursed literary genre than the apologetic self-assessment from a man brought down by the #MeToo movement?” So begins Salon’s dive into the subject of broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi, who was recently granted space in the New York Review of Books to recount the hardship he’s experienced as a result of being accused by several women of sexual misconduct. Outcry over the NYRB piece has been substantial, but Salon offers a drier, more literary take: it’s just a bad essay, filled with “bland soul-searching, misdirection, and hand-waving.” Though Ghomeshi’s words may ring hollow to many, they are notable as a glimpse into the kind of life that awaits public figures whose sexual history comes back to haunt them – an example from which certain of his American counterparts could do well to learn.

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Everyone’s buzzing about the “Captain Marvel” trailer (see below), but The AV Club points out that the real star of the upcoming film may have actually been teased in the poster, which appears to contain an Easter egg for fans of the comic the movie’s based on. What, you haven’t met Chewie, Carol Danvers’ feline companion? As the character wiki will show you, this is no ordinary Earth-kitty, but an alien whose insides may contain entire pocket universes, containing tentacles, clutches of eggs – literally anything. It’s too soon to say whether Chewie plays any significant role in the film, but the poster appearance is a love letter to comics fans from Marvel itself, signaling that the company is still well aware of reader expectations.