The Public Humanist

Humanities and the Pleasure Principle

Sometimes I feel like a hedonist. No doubt my wife — cosigner of our mortgage, mother to my two young children, and the woman who gave me my most prized possession (a push mower) — is curious to know when these times are. Well, they happen when talking...

Evaluating the Ephemeral

Cultural organizations in general and state humanities councils in particular have long struggled with the question of how to evaluate what they do. Is a good head-count at an event sufficient? Is a high level of engagement during a post-performance talk-back adequate...

The Rest of the World

A couple of weeks ago, when I was in Ireland, one of the foreign ambassadors posted there (who I suspect would prefer to be left unnamed) told a story at a dinner party. It went like this. The United Nations recently sponsored an international survey, asking the...

Cooperative Models of Foreign Policy

I recently heard from an alumnus who was being sent back to Iraq for his second tour of duty there. This news elicited all sorts of emotions, sadness and anger in particular. The sadness stems from concerns about the fundamental wrongheadedness of unilateral US...

Philosophy in Pop

There is this thing about lefty theory and activism that has always bothered me: implicit, even explicit, contempt for the very people with whom those theorists and activists consider themselves in solidarity. I would say the same, if not more, about academics....