From the category archives:


A selection of my published work since 2001 is available here. Contact me with any specific requests.

College Ivy Sprouts at a CT Prison

During her class in the prison, Professor Richards walked a fine line between energizing her students with the demands of real scholarship and scaring them

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Claude Lévi-Strauss’s Two-Part Harmonies

In any society, he maintained, “the purpose of a myth is to provide a logical model capable of overcoming a contradiction.”

As he saw it,

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How universities should exist to make minds, not careers

I’ve had many wonderful students at Yale and Columbia, bright, thoughtful, creative kids whom it’s been a pleasure to talk with and learn from. But …

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Against Camel Case

Put some distance between you and your Master Card; don’t let your Iphone make the rules. You don’t have to buy their language. It already

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On Samuel Johnson’s Worth Today

Though an excellent poet and storyteller, aside from his critical power, Johnson now matters most as a wisdom writer. His test for literary criticism was …

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Information Overload, Renaissance Edition

While the extreme availability of information today should presumably have highlighted its relative paucity in earlier periods, historians–most notably Ann Blair–have in fact extended the

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Absurdist Literature Stimulates Our Brains

The befuddled tramps in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot are a poetic personification of paralysis. But new research suggests the act of watching them actually

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What’s the Matter With Cultural Studies?

My hopes aren’t quite as ambitious as they were 20 years ago. I no longer expect cultural studies to transform the disciplines.

via What’s the

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