Dec. 19, 2020 | E.P. Thompson’s rise was a paradoxical intellectual event: “history from below” promised social uplift, yet ignored colonial realities... more »


Dec. 18, 2020 | The banality of empathy. Empathizing with fictional characters is too often seen as an ethical good. It’s not   ... more »


Dec. 17, 2020 | Why have restaurant reviews become smackdowns? Our appetite for blood sport distorts how critics write and think about food ... more »


Dec. 16, 2020 | William Gaddis was cynical about America, wishing it were more like Costa Rica. But he never lost hope entirely... more »


Dec. 15, 2020 | Eating with Italian futurists: oranges should be balanced on one’s head, meat eating should be synchronized with trumpet blasts, pasta should be avoided ... more »


Dec. 14, 2020 | J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis sought to transform the world by reintroducing old stories. Nearly a century later, they’ve been remarkably successful ... more »


Dec. 12, 2020 | Before the Gilded Age, classical music was on par with juggling acts and vaudeville tunes. Beer — not wine — flowed. What changed?... more »


Dec. 11, 2020 | Consider pinnacles of literary culture: Elizabethan England, 19th-century Russia, Flaubert’s France. America, in 2020, is at the other end of that spectrum ... more »


Dec. 10, 2020 | For the academic left, science is a hegemonic force with sweeping authority over the modern world. But that misunderstands science   ... more »


Dec. 9, 2020 | Now bludgeoned by liberals, the idea of American exceptionalism was itself a creation of the left  ... more »


Dec. 8, 2020 | What does the pandemic portend for the arts in America? We can’t even agree that culture matters, much less how to protect it ... more »


Dec. 7, 2020 | People who grouse about cultural appropriation aren't just puritanical; they don't respect the anarchic energies of art... more »


Dec. 5, 2020 | Modern poetry is intimidating. But you don’t need expertise in ekphrasis to appreciate Ross Gay, Frank Bidart, and Ada Limón ... more »


Dec. 4, 2020 | Era of cant. Wherever people are punished for expressing an unorthodox opinion, humbug is bound to flourish  ... more »


Dec. 3, 2020 | The art of artificial intelligence. Are we at the dawn of a new medium? If so, it would portend a doleful future  ... more »


Dec. 2, 2020 | Gone are the days of voracious nerding out in the academy. Such work must now demonstrate a new moral piety  ... more »


Dec. 1, 2020 | “The difficulty of making out the plain sense of poetry.” Literary studies faces a foundational problem: Making distinctions comes with diminishing returns... more »


Nov. 30, 2020 | Montaigne studied classical philosophy but claimed to learn nothing from it — the only moral authority he recognized was his own  ... more »


Nov. 28, 2020 | America is a government of words, our language shaping our politics. Which is why we need critics like David Bromwich  ... more »


Nov. 27, 2020 | "The artist is of no importance. Only what he creates is important,” said William Faulkner, as if he knew his personal failings would diminish his professional reputation   ... more »


Nov. 26, 2020 | Genius is, among other things, a personality-laundering scheme. Boorish behavior is reclassified as charming idiosyncrasy. Agnes Callard explains ... more »


Nov. 25, 2020 | Henry Adams, American aristocrat. His friends adored him, but his “distilled and vitriolic mockery” was an acquired taste  ... more »


Nov. 24, 2020 | The right-wing Medievalist Ernst Kantorowicz once killed Communists. Later, at Berkeley, he refused to sign a Cold War loyalty oath. Why?... more »


Nov. 23, 2020 | Freud’s philosophy of grief. How the loss of a daughter shaped a father’s understanding of death ... more »


Nov. 21, 2020 | Harold Bloom’s last book is lazy, solipsistic, vague, and plain wrong. It suggests that he may have misunderstood literature all along... more »


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