Mark Bauerlein is Senior Editor at First Things and Professor of English at Emory University, where he has taught since earning his PhD in English at UCLA in 1989. For two years (2003-05) he served as Director of the Office of Research and Analysis at the National Endowment for the Arts. His books include Literary Criticism: An Autopsy (1997), The Pragmatic Mind: Explorations in the Psychology of Belief (1997), and The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (2008). His essays have appeared in PMLA, Partisan Review, Wilson Quarterly, Commentary, and New Criterion, and his commentaries and reviews in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Weekly Standard, The Guardian, Chronicle of Higher Education, and other national periodicals.

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Michael Lomax and College Completion

From First Thoughts

In October 2013, 132 Catholic professors signed a letter addressed to America’s Catholic bishops objecting to the adoption of Common Core standards by Catholic schools. The letter stated that the standards lower expectations for high school graduates to a basic-skills, workforce-preparation focus, neglecting “Catholic schools’ rich tradition of helping to form children’s hearts and minds.” Furthermore, Common Core aims to make students “college-ready,” but the standards are “geared to prepare children only for community-college-level studies.” Continue Reading »

The Rhetoric of the Houston Ordinance

From First Thoughts

In the controversy over the subpoena issued to local pastors in Houston who opposed an anti-discrimination ordinance, it is wise to heed the rhetoric of its defenders even as the subpoenas have evoked national protest. We had two prime cases in the Wall Street Journal from last Thursday. The article bears the title, “Mayor Tries to Calm Pastor Uproar,” but you have to wonder about how Mayor Parker goes about doing so. Continue Reading »

Angels in Ferguson

From the November 2014 Print Edition

When the New York Times printed a short profile of Michael Brown just as mourners were preparing to lay him to rest, the editors probably thought readers would appreciate it as a humane complement to the political stew still boiling in Ferguson, Missouri. They didn’t. Journalists and bloggers . . . . Continue Reading »

Positive Chastity

From First Thoughts

Last week at National Review, David French had an article entitled “The Vindication of Christian Sexual Ethics” that takes a welcome turn in the controversies over sexual behavior on college campuses that have erupted in recent months. (See here and here and here for examples of thousands of stories from that last month.) Instead of focusing on incidents of proven and alleged sexual assault, then maintaining or denying “campus rape culture” at work, French speaks of “sexual-revolution values” in general and sets against them Christian values of sobriety, chastity before marriage, and fidelity after. Continue Reading »

The Wisdom of Peter Thiel

From First Thoughts

Last night, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute hosted a banquet at the University Club in New York City, with Peter Thiel as the guest speaker. Thiel is one of the titans of the Digital Age, famous as the founder of PayPal and the first outside investor in Facebook. Less known are his fight against multiculturalism in higher education (he was at Stanford during the infamous days of “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western civ has got to go!”), love of Great Books, and faith in God. Continue Reading »

An Emerging Irony for the Professors

From First Thoughts

When you talk to humanities professors, especially those at elite institutions, it doesn’t take long for the complaints to begin. They say that the administration doesn’t support them, choosing to invest in the sciences and business school, not language, literature, and culture. They witness the number of majors plummet—English used to collect nearly 8 percent of majors; now it’s close to 3 percent—and they feel unappreciated. (At my own institution, the number of majors has dropped by more than 50 percent since I arrived in 1989.) The overall drift toward the “corporate university” reflects values they abhor, and many of them would like to move, but the job market is terrible. Continue Reading »

Catholic Writers Take Notice

From First Thoughts

One year ago, in the December 2013 First Things issue, Dana Gioia regretted the decline of the Catholic writer in America. Whereas the mid-twentieth century literary scene was packed with Catholics (Flannery O’Connor, Katherine Anne Porter, Walker Percy, Jack Kerouac, Donald Westlake, Allen Tate, Robert Fitzgerald, Claude McKay, Claire Boothe Luce, Robert Giroux, Hugh Kenner), Gioia noted, today’s “aggressively secular literary culture” allows for only a few of them (Alice McDermott, Tobias Wolff, Richard Rodriguez). Continue Reading »

Harry Potter Is Famous

From Web Exclusives

He’s renowned in the wizard world. There, everybody knows his story, the murder of his parents and the survival of the infant. Voldemort haunts this parallel universe of magic, so much so that his name is taboo, and Harry played a crucial role in that not so distant episode of revolt. What happened to him is fateful  Continue Reading »