Jennie Rothenberg Gritz

Jennie Rothenberg Gritz, a former senior editor at The Atlantic, is now a senior editor at Smithsonian magazine.
  • David Lynch on Where Great Ideas Come From

    In an animated interview, the filmmaker gives advice on creativity.

  • Laura Morton

    Mantras Before Math Class

    After growing up with Transcendental Meditation as a spiritual practice, the author visits public schools where it’s being used as a simple tool for stress-reduction and well-being.

  • Who Said It—John Steinbeck or Gertrude Stein?

    Below are some quotes from Atlantic Monthly essays published many, many decades ago. The identities of the authors are hidden within the links, which take you to the full essays. Can you guess the right author for each quote?

    1) “While theorists are still searching for the causes of the depression, and politicians remain at loggerheads in their effort to conjure up remedies, I am tempted to think that the perplexed businessman might discover a possible solution of his troubles if he would just spend a few days in his wife’s kitchen.”

    A. Eleanor Roosevelt
    B. James Thurber
    C. Helen Keller
    D. Hezekiah Butterworth

    (Answer here)

    2) “There was a window in the room, but he could not seem to get it open, and he was afraid to call the bellboy (what queer eyes that kid had!), and he was afraid to leave the hotel, for what if he got lost? and if he got lost, even a little, then he would be lost altogether.”

  • What Was It Really Like to Escape East Germany?

    East German Combat Groups of the Working Class close the border on August 13, 1961 in preparation for the Berlin Wall construction. (Wikimedia)

    Back in 1961, when Germany was at its most fiercely divided, The Atlantic published a collection of interviews with East Germans called “Why We Crossed Over.” “Dieter S.,” a 21-year-old hospital orderly, explained how he found himself on the government blacklist:

    [The police] said that they knew that I had been going frequently into West Berlin to see my aunt. They knew also that I had many friends in West Berlin and that I had been seen riding on a motor scooter with a decadent girl from West Berlin who had long hair, like Brigitte Bardot’s. All of this was true enough ... That night I crossed the frontier into West Berlin and knocked on my aunt’s door.

    After decades of Cold War thrillers, a story like Dieter’s sounds oddly low-key. But this was just before the completion of the Berlin Wall, and it was sometimes surprisingly easy for East Germans to get out of the country.

  • Track of the Day: 'This Moment'

    This morning was the first day of school for my youngest child. After I watched her disappear through the door, I drove to work listening to this song from Matthew Sweet. It’s a track I listened to on my first day of college, in my new dorm room, as I got dressed in a wrap skirt and bodysuit (because it was 1993).

    That was before “being mindful” was all the rage, but it’s really what this song is about: “Nothing more, nothing less / Than the place that we are in.”

    I remember standing in that dorm room and feeling vividly alive. I wasn’t thinking about anything except how it felt to be me, right then, starting that particular chapter in my life. One of the best things about having kids is that we get to experience those ultra-saturated first-time moments all over again.

  • Jack London Defends Labor-Union 'Terrorism'

    Police break up an 1874 protest of 7,000 unemployed laborers in New York's Tompkins Square Park. (Library of Congress)

    In hindsight, Jack London probably wasn’t quite the right fit for The Atlantic. When he sent his first submission in 1899, the editors called his writing “vigorous” and “essentially healthy.” But they took issue with his byline. “We venture to suggest the use of the more frequent form of the Christian name,” they wrote to him. Jack refused to become John, and after that, The Atlantic rejected three of his short stories—including his now-legendary “The Law of Life,” which they called “forbidding” and “depressing.”

    London’s final contribution to The Atlantic, published in January 1904, was “The Scab,” an essay denouncing capitalism and defending violent labor uprisings:

    When a striker kills with a brick the man who has taken his place, he has no sense of wrong-doing. In the deepest holds of his being, though he does not reason the impulse, he has an ethical sanction … Terrorism is a well-defined and eminently successful policy of the labor unions. It has probably won them more strikes than all the rest of the weapons in their arsenal.

    The editors published “The Scab” with a cautious note at the top, calling it “an interesting contribution, from a radical point of view.” A few months later, they wrote London a Dear John letter, explaining that his passionate editorials weren’t quite the right “style of address” for The Atlantic. London responded graciously: “Thank you for your kind rejection of May 25. Now this is not sarcastic at all, and I am thanking you for the best and most genuine rejection I ever received in all my life.”

  • When You Accidentally Join a Jewish Frat

    Here’s a back-to-school story about frat life in 1916. Back then, there were no late-night co-ed parties and no crude welcome banners. The biggest problem facing a naive freshman was pledging a Jewish fraternity by mistake. That’s what happened to the author of this century-old Atlantic essay. When he realized what he’d done, he was so mortified that he ran away from school:

    “You're sixteen years old,” she scolded. “You’ve got a fair amount of brains. My God, boy, do you mean to tell me you don’t know a Jew when you see one? Look at them, idiot; look at them. They have noses, hair, eyes, features, mouths, all different from anybody else. Can you honestly tell me you don't know that ___ is a Jew?” And then the melancholy catalogue began. One by one we ran through the list of every member of my fraternity. They were all, it seemed, Jews.

  • Joe Samberg

    The Death of the Hippies

    The photographer Joe Samberg remembers how drugs destroyed the Telegraph Avenue scene.

  • Lauren Giordano / The Atlantic

    The Evolution of Alternative Medicine

    When it comes to treating pain and chronic disease, many doctors are turning to treatments like acupuncture and meditation—but using them as part of a larger, integrative approach to health. 

  • Library of Congress

    The Best Sentence in Atlantic History?

    After the Battle of Antietam, Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote a gripping story about his search for his wounded son. But one of the most memorable lines had nothing to do with the Civil War.

  • Random House/The Atlantic

    How Nick Hornby Keeps His Writing Fresh

    The author of Funny Girl, Fever Pitch, and High Fidelity champions the virtue in adapting other people's work and explains why he never wants to write a sequel.

  • Paramount Pictures

    The Jewish Cartoonists Who Reinvented Christmas

    Pay close attention as you watch Paramount Pictures’ classic holiday animations: You may spot a six-pointed star on the Christmas tree.

  • Keith Morris/PR image

    How the Internet (and Volkswagen) Made a Dead Folksinger Into a Star

    Nick Drake, who died 40 years ago, was too ethereal to compete with 1970s showmen like David Bowie and Elton John. But he was the perfect musician for the digital era.

  • March of Dimes

    The Anti-Vaccine Movement Is Forgetting the Polio Epidemic

    On the 100th anniversary of Jonas Salk's birth, his son Peter talks about the backlash against vaccines and other human factors that make it difficult to eradicate deadly viruses.

  • Reuters

    B.J. Novak Proves That Kids' Books Don't Need Pictures

    The former actor and writer for The Office has found a mischievous way to entertain preschoolers through the written word alone.

  • AP Photo

    The Op-Ed Woody Allen Should Have Written

    His New York Times reply to his daughter's accusations only made a terrible situation worse.

  • Rainbow Quest: Pete Seeger's Strange, Magical 1960s TV Show

    The ultra-collaborative folksinger wasn't quite sure what to make of the television medium. But for a brief period, he made it entirely his own.

  • The Deathbed Confessions of William Butler Yeats

    When the poet died 75 years ago, three of his most brutal poems were in the current issue of The Atlantic.

  • How Kids Dealt With the Stress of Desegregation

    Before Norman Rockwell immortalized Ruby Bridges in a painting, an Atlantic writer followed her for two years and reported on her daily battles. 

  • Why Superheroes Still Can't Have It All

    Sage Stossel, author of the graphic novel Starling, talks about her unconventional heroine, her creative process, and her own memories of growing up with an anxious brother.