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Connecting the dots.

Essays about how we communicate and why it matters.

Crossing in Droves


Posted on Saturday, November 28, 2015 by Shelley Cowan

As I watched the fear generated by the attacks in Paris morph into fear of Syrian refugees in America, I was curious to know more about Americans’ reactions to immigration over the years.  ..

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Core Strength


Posted on Wednesday, June 17, 2015 by Shelley Cowan

Earlier this spring, we drove to Milwaukee to see Hal Holbrook in his one-man performance of Mark Twain Tonight, a series of dramatic recitations from the writings of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, aka Mark Twain. ..

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Ambivalent Blogger


Posted on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 by Shelley Cowan

Some years ago I heard the author Russell Banks speak at Cincinnati's Mercantile Library. He said something to the effect that 19th century Americans who could read and write deeply valued their ability to do so. They believed they had something to say – that others wanted to hear – and they believed in their ability to say it.   ..

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Show Me Your Thinking


Posted on Sunday, May 19, 2013 by Shelley Cowan

1814. The United States is more than two years into a war we can’t afford. And can’t afford to lose. Albert Gallatin has left his post as Secretary of the Treasury to help John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay and a few other diplomats negotiate a peace treaty with the British. Everyone knows that peace is inevitable and will happen soon. Still, each side stalls, reengages and stalls - depending on who won the latest skirmish across the Atlantic and how the European powers seem to be realigning, now that they’ve driven Napoleon into exile. At least for now.  ..

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A guy walks into a bar


Posted on Sunday, April 15, 2012 by Shelley Cowan

When we sat down, two men at the bar were talking about Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and the Three-Fifths Compromise that made it possible for the U.S. Constitution to become ratified. I know this because I was right next to them and they were very loud. ..

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