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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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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 »

Gender Integration as the Answer

From First Thoughts

At Wesleyan University, that’s the solution to the problem. There are only a few fraternities on or off campus, and fewer than a hundred students live in them, but they have been the object of allegations of sexual assault, and students and faculty have demanded that something be done. Wesleyan has decided to make them coed. As the story at insidehighered.com explains : Continue Reading »

Education or Advocacy?

From First Thoughts

Catholic University has cancelled a screening of the film Milk, a biopic of Harvey Milk, a San Francisco politician murdered in 1978 by an angry office-seeker. Because Milk was the first outspokenly gay elected official in California, he is a martyr to the cause of gay rights, and the film (with Sean Penn) emphasizes Milk’s struggle against homophobia. Continue Reading »

Witch Morals

From the October 2014 Print Edition

Upon its release fifteen years ago, the distributors of The Blair Witch Project realized they had a phenomenon in hand. An innovative marketing campaign had built interest in the film by leading people to websites displaying fake news stories and information about the witch and the killings. . . . . Continue Reading »

Millennial Idol Lena Dunham Talks Politics

From First Thoughts

The Planned Parenthood Action Fund has sent out an email message about the upcoming election from Lena Dunham, creator and star of Girls, author of Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s Learned, and representative Twenty-First-Century Young American Female. Indeed, a recent New York Timesprofile termed her book “a primer for millennial women negotiating the path to adulthood,” so we should examine her words closely when she drifts away from the youth habit of talking about her life and shifts to politics. Continue Reading »

Colleges say: “We’re doing great!” Employers: “No you’re not!”

From First Thoughts

As students head back to college this month, many have yet to choose a major. When they do decide, they should keep a wide divergence in mind. It appeared awhile back in a headline in the Chronicle of Higher Education: “Business and Academic Leaders Disagree on Quality of College Grads.” The disagreement emerged in two polls by Gallup, one for Lumina that asked Americans, including business leaders, about the cost and quality of higher education, the other for Inside Higher Ed that queried academic officers about the academic health of their campuses. Continue Reading »

A Theory for Tattoos

From Web Exclusives

The motives for tattoos are many, but they all have a common subtext. A tattoo can mark a group identity—sailors, soldiers, inmates, gangs, motorcyclists. It can memorialize a person or event, as in a virtual archive of snapshots of tattoos showing names and faces of deceased loved ones (I attended a presentation of the archive by two academics in Toronto last year). Sometimes they happen by blunt peer pressure, a set of 20-year-olds on Saturday night getting drunk, knowing not what to do until one of them blurts, “Let’s go get a tat and a ring!” (a good friend tells me of pulling out just as his turn came up). Continue Reading »