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Arts and Sciences

Lepidoptery, Literature, and Liberal Arts

December 11, 2020

His American literary career started close to Boston in 1941, at the helm of Wellesley College’s Russian department. At the same time, he was the curator of the butterfly collection at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology. You can see Nabokov’s fastidious devotion to the Museum’s vast and varied collection in his anatomical drawings, his published entomology papers on different elements of taxonomy, and of course his books. Take “Pale Fire,” his 1962 poem-as-novel bursting with butterfly as theme: “I can do what only a true artist can do — pounce upon the forgotten butterfly of revelation … see the web of the world, and the warp and the weft of that web.”

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Differences, Demonization, and DNA

November 13, 2020

“We are more alike, my friends, / than we are unalike.”

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'Seagull,' Symbols, and Social Media

October 30, 2020

But those aren’t the only symbols. Take a poignant scene from Anton Chekhov’s “The Seagull.” Gloomy playwright Treplev shoots the titular bird and presents it solemnly at the feet of ingenue Nina, the object of his unrequited love. “What do you mean by this?” asks Nina in response, confused at both the dead bird and the ceremony with which Treplev has laid it at her feet. “Is this a symbol or something?” she seems really to be asking. She’s not just exposing the futility of Treplev’s love for her, she’s also calling attention to the outsized role that symbols play in how we connect with and show our love to each other.

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Pandemic, Purpose, and Viral Peptides

October 16, 2020

To give us the impression we exist.

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Solitude and Serotonin

October 02, 2020

“I find it wholesome to be alone,” writes Henry David Thoreau in his “Solitude” chapter of “Walden.” “To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating … I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.”

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