The Unpopular Popular Humanities

To become an egalitarian in the area of beauty was to cancel your full appreciation of what is great and profound. We all like to slum it, sometimes, but to get too enthusiastic about pop culture materials or, worse, to take them seriously as objects of aesthetic judgment—well, that was an abdication of the critic's responsibilities, not to mention a sign of vulgar taste. Continue Reading »

The Loving Intellect

What does it mean to be an intellectual? The word comes from the Latin word for understanding, intellego. Lego has dense, multifaceted meanings: to choose, select, collect, and gather. It also means to read. When inter gets added, which means “between,” we get a compound meaning, something like . . . . Continue Reading »

What (Who?) Is a University?

There is an old story, much loved by academics, that in an address to the Columbia University faculty in 1948 Dwight Eisenhower, then President of the university, prefaced his remarks with the phrase: “Now, you employees of Columbia University . . .”A member of the faculty interjected to correct . . . . Continue Reading »

Living with a Mind

I was brought up in a culture that made no special place for the “intellectual” as a distinct human type, and which regarded learning in the same way as any other hobby: harmless and excusable, so long as you kept quiet about it. The person who studied the classics at home, who wrote poetry . . . . Continue Reading »

The Allure of Sustainability

An energetic graduate of Wesleyan College, class of 2013, no longer proud of her achievement-packed résumé, cuts off contact with her mother, flies to Hawaii, lives in a hut, and survives on plants from her small garden. She has traded a promising position in the global economy for a reclusive, . . . . Continue Reading »

Sex and Campus

The results of a survey of female college students came out this week, and the numbers are distressing. The Association of American Universities commissioned a “Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct,” focusing on “the incidence, prevalence and characteristics of . . . . Continue Reading »

In Loco Politicus

There is much talk lately of an over-parenting crisis. In her book How to Raise an Adult, Julie Lythcott-Haims, a dean at Stanford University, tells horror stories about parents who speak for, plan for, and advocate for their college-aged children, afraid to let go lest their precious charges . . . . Continue Reading »

Read, Cheer . . . Then Weep

Several years ago, I spoke to a group of Christian students at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. “Why is it that, in our big public university, the only questions we explore are the tiny and medium-sized?” I asked. “The Big Questions—What does it mean to be human? What is the purpose of life? How do I fit in the grand scope of reality?—are off the table.” Continue Reading »

Neoliberal Education

With the publication of Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to A Meaningful Life, William Deresiewicz's sober assessment of contemporary higher education was both praised and lampooned by commentators across the spectrum. He recently spoke with First Things about . . . . Continue Reading »