Late Wednesday night, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution mandating a coat, tie and slacks for men on the Senate floor. It ended a week of brouhaha and handwringing over Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s decision to relax the chamber’s dress code to allow Sen. John Fetterman to wear his trademark hoodie and gym shorts before the storied body.

This is a tune fashion historian Deirdre Clemente has heard before. Shorts, in particular, have a long history of eliciting outrage. Whether it’s Dartmouth students baring their legs during the Shorts Protest of 1930 or country clubs forcing women to wear trenchcoats over their shorts on their way to the tennis court, traditionalists will often appeal to values like “respect” and “decorum” to preserve existing fashion mores.

And yet everyday people simply pushed back by continuing to wear shorts – so much so that it became impossible to regulate. Even though the Senate has reined in Fetterman’s perceived excesses, Clemente wonders just how long the newly official sartorial standards of the Senate will last.

“Despite the buttoned-up outrage and jokes from Susan Collins about wearing a bikini on the Senate floor, fashion is born of culture, and culture is dynamic,” she writes. “And cultural forces are almost impossible to beat back.”

This week we also like articles about Supreme Court justices who defy “liberal” and “conservative” labels, the importance of avoiding historical narratives that airbrush the cruelty out of the history of American slavery and the dangers AI now pose during elections.

Nick Lehr

Arts + Culture Editor

The Shorts Protest of 1930 brought more than 600 students to the steps of Robinson Hall at Dartmouth College. Courtesy of Rauner Library, Dartmouth College

John Fetterman might be the first to try to bare his legs in the Senate, but shorts have been ticking people off for almost a century

Deirdre Clemente, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

As fashion norms change, what people wear in public becomes ground zero for hashing out new ideas of race, class and gender.

A Black actor in 1974 impersonating an enslaved man in Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. George Bryant/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Why separating fact from fiction is critical in teaching US slavery

Eric Gable, University of Mary Washington; Richard Handler, University of Virginia

Though it is a fact that some enslaved people learned valuable skills, it’s a myth that they had the same path of upward mobility that white laborers enjoyed.

The intersection of politics and social media is fertile ground for AI-powered disinformation. AP Photo/John Minchillo

AI disinformation is a threat to elections − learning to spot Russian, Chinese and Iranian meddling in other countries can help the US prepare for 2024

Bruce Schneier, Harvard Kennedy School

ChatGPT and its ilk give propagandists and intelligence agents a powerful new tool for interfering in politics. The clock is ticking on learning to spot this disinformation before the 2024 election.

The Conversation Quiz 🧠

  • Here’s a question of this week’s edition:

    Let's see how closely you're following the presidential debates. The GOP debate on Sept. 27 was held where?

    1. A. Madison Square Garden
    2. B. The Buckeye Express Diner in Bellville, Ohio
    3. C. The Andy Griffith Playhouse in Mt. Airy, N.C.
    4. D. The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

    Test your knowledge