WWI: Battle of Fromelles Begins (1916)

The Battle of Fromelles was fought in France during World War I between Germany and a combined force of British and Australian troops. More than 1,500 British and 5,500 Australian soldiers were killed, wounded, or taken prisoner. The battle resulted in a decisive victory for Germany, which suffered 1,500 casualties. The Australian War Memorial describes the battle as “the worst 24 hours in Australia’s entire history.” The Allies had planned to launch the attack sooner, but were delayed by what? Discuss

Edgar Degas (1834)

Degas was a French painter and sculptor. After copying the Old Masters and becoming a skilled draftsman, he was introduced to Impressionism by Édouard Manet. He then gave up his academic aspirations to pursue art exclusively. Many of his works depict the fast-paced city life of Paris, particularly the ballet, theater, circus, track, and cafés, and feature non-traditional compositions influenced by Japanese prints and photography. Which of his works was criticized for its “appalling ugliness”? Discuss

The Gavel

Used by judges, presiding officers, and auctioneers, gavels are small ceremonial mallets often struck against a block to call for attention or punctuate rulings. Because it is often used forcefully and therefore broken, the gavel in the US House of Representatives is plain, wooden, and easily replaced. The US Senate gavel is made of solid ivory and is actually a replica. Which US Vice President splintered the original—which had been used since 1789—during a heated debate on nuclear energy? Discuss

La Cantuta Massacre (1992)

In 1992, a professor and nine students from Lima’s La Cantuta University were abducted by a military death squad, murdered, and secretly buried. The murders occurred during the presidency of Alberto Fujimori and his government’s battle against the guerilla terrorist group Shining Path. The massacre contributed to Fujimori’s conviction in 2009 on charges of human rights abuses, for which he was sentenced to 25 years in prison. What bombing was used as a justification for the La Cantuta Massacre? Discuss

Robert Hooke (1635)

Hooke was a prolific English physicist, mathematician, and inventor. He was a geometry professor and the curator of experiments for the Royal Society. An architect as well, he played a major role in the surveying and rebuilding of London after the 1666 fire. Considered the greatest mechanic of his age, he made myriad improvements to astronomical instruments and timepieces. In his pioneering book Micrographia, he described his microscopic observations of plant tissue and coined what term? Discuss

Sea Routes of the Ancient World

Before the invention of modern navigational tools, sailors in the ancient world navigated sea routes using periploi, documents that list ports, coastal landmarks, and the approximate distances between them. The Greek Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, dated between the first and third century CE, details navigation and trading opportunities at Roman Egyptian ports on the Red Sea and along the coasts of E Africa and India. According to the document, where is the “Frankincense kingdom”? Discuss

Napalm Incendiary Bombs Dropped for First Time by US Air Force (1944)

Napalm is an organic compound used to thicken gasoline for use as an incendiary in flamethrowers and firebombs. The thickened mixture burns more slowly and can be propelled more accurately and farther than gasoline. When it comes in contact with surfaces, including the human body, it sticks and continues to burn. It was developed and first used by the US in World War II. Its use in the Vietnam War became highly controversial. “Napalm” is a combination of what two words? Discuss

S.Y. Agnon (1888)

Agnon was an Israeli writer who is widely regarded as one of the greatest modern Hebrew novelists and short-story writers. Born into a Polish Galician family in what is now Ukraine, Agnon settled in Palestine in 1907. His fiction explores Jewish life from the late 18th century to the post-WWI period. The Day Before Yesterday, perhaps his greatest novel, examines the problems faced by the westernized Jewish immigrant to Israel. In 1966, Agnon shared the Nobel Prize in Literature with whom? Discuss