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.
A funny thing happened when Michael Novak brought Herbert Marcuse to lecture to his students. It was the early-1970s when campus rebellion had entered its darker phase, and Marcuse was an idol of the Movement. His theory of “repressive tolerance” served as an essential touchstone for protest, and his volatile mix of Marx and Freud seemed an edgy, relevant style of intellectualized activism. Continue Reading »
One of the more intractable aspects of sexual politics today for traditionalists is the emergence of the courtroom as the arena for settling every debate. Even when they have a democratic majority, not to mention centuries of sexual-marital mores, on their side, the contrary will of one-to-five politically-appointed individuals can prevail. Of course, judicial activism is an old problem, undemocratic and arbitrary, placing monumental decisions in too few hands. But there is another problem, an indirect one that follows precisely from critics taking seriously the courtroom’s power. We could call this problem the “legalization” of debate, meaning not whether something is legal, but instead the conversion of moral, social, religious, and other dimensions of an issue into legal, or legalistic, terms, or at least the neglect of them because of a focus on what the judges will say.
When a winter storm in 2011 sent a tree crashing into a creek in a town in New Jersey, officials acted quickly to remove it and stem the floodinguntil a man (“probably the town lawyer”) apprised them that a “class C-1 creek” could not be altered without a formal . . . . Continue Reading »
George Orwell: A Life in Letters edited by peter davison liveright, 524 pages, $35 When, in her book Treason, Ann Coulter cited George Orwell in support of her denunciation of liberals as traitors, her readers probably didn’t even blink. Like thousands of high school students every year, they . . . . Continue Reading »
America-Lite: How Imperial Academia Dismantled Our Culture (and Ushered in the Obamacrats) by David Gelernter Encounter Books, 200 pages, $23.99 When Roger Kimball wrote Tenured Radicals back in 1990, for conservatives and traditionalists the thesis quickly congealed into the explanation for the . . . . Continue Reading »
In thirty years as a professor, of graduate seminars, academic conferences, committee meetings, lunches and dinners, and conversations short and long, I have heard God mentioned rarely, and when he is mentioned he is never talked of in a way that assumes his reality. God may have stood foremost in . . . . Continue Reading »