Dec. 28, 2015 | Don't try to discern the “original intent” of the American founders – they contradicted one another. But this is clear: They had no intention to create a religion-based government... more »


Dec. 26, 2015 | Punk is in its fourth decade, but confusion remains about what, exactly, it is. The rules, aesthetic, and parameters are, at best, murky... more »


Dec. 25, 2015 | Academics are sometimes cautioned to put scholarship over politics. Benedict Anderson regarded this as a false and foolish distinction... more »


Dec. 24, 2015 | Academics are told to "engage the public," as if that were an intrinsic value. But real value might mean writing a book that few people will read.... more »


Dec. 23, 2015 | Mass surveillance may seem eerily futuristic, but it marks a return to a time when we were watched by an omniscient authority,. We called it God... more »


Dec. 22, 2015 | Information Age. Information Overload. Information Explosion: Our problem isn't a deluge of information, but a lack of self-knowledge... more »


Dec. 21, 2015 | Since Genesis, no story has been free of gossip. Without Cain and Abel, there is no Chaucer, no Boswell, no Jane Austen, no Proust, no Henry James... more »


Dec. 19, 2015 | The literature of listening. Flaubert called himself a human pen; Svetlana Alexievich, a recent Nobel laureate, calls herself a human ear... more »


Dec. 18, 2015 | Music’s first true workaholic. Mahler claimed to loathe conducting and composing. His careerist ambitions actually improved his work... more »


Dec. 17, 2015 | Marginalia's moment. The current fad for curating ink-and-pencil scribblings isn't mere nostalgia. It’s a mournful expression of something deeper... more »


Dec. 16, 2015 | Origins of the beard. Darwin sported whiskers but struggled to explain facial hair. Is it a triumph of nurture over nature, culture over primitive instinct?... more »


Dec. 15, 2015 | What is an essay, anyway? An argument with a thesis?  Or “a way of entering and writing about disputed space”?... more »


Dec. 14, 2015 | Camille Paglia is dismayed by the return of Victorian notions of female fragility. "If today’s young women want to be passive wards of the state, then that is their self-stultifying choice" ... more »


Dec. 12, 2015 | Biographers cite Sinatra’s genius, his talent, his sex life. But there's a reason his friends called him “the Monster”... more »


Dec. 11, 2015 | Before Ta-Nehisi Coates and Claudia Rankine were Wright, Baldwin, and Ellison. So why do some speak of black public intellectuals as “new”?... more »


Dec. 10, 2015 | A new New Age? Adorno thought astrology made us passive; Lasch thought it made us lose faith in politics. Either way, it refuses to die... more »


Dec. 9, 2015 | The importance of “What if?” Thinking about a counterfactual past reveals the importance of evidence and contingency. It teaches historical humility... more »


Dec. 8, 2015 | The academic humanities have gone so wrong, with scholars beset not only by a loss of inwardness but even by a sense of immorality... more »


Dec. 7, 2015 | Writers increasingly blur the line between fiction and nonfiction. What happens when this "genre-defying" work becomes its own genre?... more »


Dec. 5, 2015 | The idea of the independent, unaffiliated artist is a myth of the Cold War, a simplification of the vexed relationship between artists and patrons... more »


Dec. 4, 2015 | What would be lost if we lose libraries? Books help us remember who we are, the many things we've done wrong, the few things we've got right... more »


Dec. 3, 2015 | Murakami and Franzen: Why are their new books so familiar? Commercially successful novelists have a tendency to repeat the same old formula... more »


Dec. 2, 2015 | Where student protesters go wrong. Their grievances are often warranted. But they have a mistaken idea of what a university should be... more »


Dec. 1, 2015 | We think of Orson Welles as a drunk, as falling short of his potential, as a wasteful filmmaker. Those notions say more about us than about Welles... more »


Nov. 30, 2015 | The visiting author’s email, Claire Vaye Watkins writes, provided a “glass-bottom-boat tour of a certain type of male writer’s mind”... more »


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