Big Zodiac: the soaring popularity — and profits — of astrology

Belief in astrology is on the upswing, especially among younger people. That’s maybe not surprising given that astrology’s popularity rises in times of crisis and uncertainty. But since it has no predictive value, what meanings can be gleaned from a belief that the stars reveal all about us?

'Civilization is a very thin veneer': What the plague of Athens can teach us about dealing with COVID-19

The plague of Athens struck in 430 BC, violently killing up to half of the Greek city's population. The chronicler Thucydides documented the grim symptoms, as well as the social and psychological fallout. His vivid account holds enduring lessons for us today.

How philosophy can help us understand the war in Ukraine

What good is philosophy in times of war? Ukrainian scholar Mychailo Wynnyckyj and Yale philosopher Jason Stanley share their thoughts on how philosophy can illuminate the Ukrainian crisis — and inform our response to the war.

How the most celebrated films at the Oscars shape how we see ourselves

History films get the most awards at the Oscars. But they’re more than just entertainment. They colour our understanding of the past, and sometimes discolour it. Film scholar Kim Nelson explores the complex power of how history films shape our sense of who we are.

Alphabet Odyssey: The Middle English Dictionary

The Middle English Dictionary was 71 years in the making. Eventually published by the University of Michigan in 2001, it featured 15,000 pages, 55,000 definitions, and had 900,000 examples of usage gleaned from 400 years of medieval texts. Join IDEAS on a romp through the Middle English Dictionary.

BBC's Reith Lectures: What Franklin Roosevelt's 'four freedoms' mean now

The BBC Reith Lectures return, and this year’s theme is The Four Freedoms. In the first lecture, Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi-Aidichie analyzes the state of free speech today, including “cancel culture.” She argues that moral courage is required to resist threats to freedom of speech, be they political, legal or social.

Lessons from an ancient Athenian in an era of 'fake news'

About 2,500 years ago, Thucydides travelled ancient Greece, gathering stories about a brutal war that plunged the ancient world into chaos. He set high standards for accuracy, objectivity and thoroughness in his reporting. IDEAS producer Nicola Luksic explains why his account of the Peloponnesian War is relevant today.

The fight for libraries, 'the heart' of democratic freedom

Libraries are under literal attack in Ukraine, and ideological attack amid North America’s culture wars. Oxford librarian and author Richard Ovenden is not about to stay quiet about it. He argues that libraries defend our democratic freedoms, and deserve our defence in return.

Exploring the joys and challenges of Indigenous sexuality, gender and identity

When Europeans colonized North America, they brought very specific ideas about gender and sexuality. Following the 2022 CBC Massey Lectures, Tomson Highway joined panellists to discuss Indigenous sexuality in the aftermath of colonialism — from Cree mythology to the Vancouver dating scene.

'We are very much here': Newfoundland's vibrant history of Indigenous writing

Newfoundland has a vibrant history of Indigenous writing that’s been obscured over the years, but is now being rediscovered and celebrated. As part of the George Story Distinguished Lecture series at Memorial University, professor Kristina Bidwell shares the rich and complex world of Newfoundland’s Indigenous literature and points to the collaborations taking place right now.

CBC Massey Lectures 2022: Tomson Highway

In the 2022 CBC Massey Lecture, acclaimed Cree writer Tomson Highway uses storytelling, biography, and Cree mythology to explore five central pillars of our existence: creation, death, language, humour, and sex & gender.

Massey Lecture # 5: When we die, we stay right here on Earth, says Tomson Highway

Tomson Highway's final Massey lecture is an uplifting and joyous conclusion to his series ⁠— a message that the worldview of Indigenous people suggests ways of seeing and believing that make our journey on Earth joyous, hilariously funny and rich in diversity.

Massey Lecture #4: Indigenous language makes space for many genders

Tomson Highway explores some of the limits monotheism imposes on our understanding of gender and the human body in his fourth Massey lecture. In the Indigenous world, the trickster is neither male or female. "She can be a man. He can be a woman. The absence of gender in Cree facilitates the process.

Massey Lecture # 3: How the Trickster brings laughter and joy to daily life

Tomson Highway invites us into the Cree world of scatological, wild laughter. He invokes the Trickster — a central figure to mythologies of many Indigenous communities across Turtle Island. In this third Massey lecture, he invites us to experience the world through joy and laughter.

Massey Lecture # 2 | Tomson Highway asks: How did the universe begin?

In his second CBC Massey lecture, Tomson Highway questions how the universe came to be. He explores ancient Greek and Christian beliefs and adds that the Indigenous worldview is: "Those who lived in ages before us... they live here with us, still, today, in the very air we breathe."

Massey Lecture # 1: Language helps us understand why we exist

In his first 2022 CBC Massey Lectures, acclaimed Cree writer Tomson Highway argues that language shapes the way we see the world. He says without language, we are lost creatures in a meaningless existence — which is why we tell stories.

Medicine as war: what M*A*S*H did for the 'battle' against COVID

We think nothing today of calling healthcare workers “front line workers,” engaged in a “battle” against disease. But the roots of the war metaphor in medicine go a long way back ⁠— entrenched by pop culture icons like the TV show M*A*S*H and Hawkeye’s army. Dr. Jillian Horton explores a less heroic but healthier way forward for doctors and health professionals.

Can owning a dog be a 'selfish' pursuit? This academic thinks so

The way dogs are portrayed in literature reflects the problems in our real-world relationships to canines, says PhD student Molly Labenski, who says people want animals in their lives as “accessories” that can be easily discarded.

Négritude: The birth of Black humanism

Négritude was a Francophone movement to rethink what it meant to be Black and African. Scholar Merve Fejzula explores the dynamic debates happening in the early- to mid-20th century among Négritude thinkers, how they disseminated their ideas, and how all this changed what it meant to be part of a public.

Seduced by story: the dangers of narrative

Humans are storytelling creatures. But literary scholar Peter Brooks argues that stories have become far too dominant as the way we understand ourselves and the world. IDEAS examines the dangers of seeing everything as a story.

George McCullagh — Canada's first media mogul you've never heard of

The Globe and Mail's founder George McCullagh once had the ear of the entire nation — but despite his remarkable rise to power, few know his name. Historian Mark Bourrie traces his legacy in the book Big Men Fear Me.

How a cotton sack and a mother's love outlasted slavery

Historian Tiya Miles writes a different kind of history in her prize-winning book, All That She Carried. Rather than turn to U.S. records of slave owners, she turns to a physical artifact: a cotton sack with the first names of a mother and her daughter, who was sold at the age of nine. Miles reveals their story of love.

How democracy in China could be possible

China is a true superpower, with influence far beyond its borders. But the world is changing. Could China possibly become a democracy? University of Toronto professor Joseph Wong thinks so. He explores this theory and explains how China got to where it is today.

Forget the Oscars — what makes a truly great actor?

Denzel Washington, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem: these performers are not the roles that they play. Still, says author Isaac Butler, we really do want to see actors fuse with their characters. His new book, The Method: How the 20th Century Learned to Act, traces how an artform based in artifice has become a search for psychological and emotional truth.

From servants to outlaws: 100 years of Black representation in Hollywood films

From Hollywood's beginnings, Black people were mostly given roles of subservient maids and sharecroppers in movies with regressive, racist messages. But over the last century, there have also been movements to present Black people as real, nuanced human beings with stories worth telling on film.