B.D. McClay


B.D. McClay, a contributing editor of THR, is an essayist and critic.


from The Use and Abuse of History, Volume 24, Number 2

The Internet has only one currency, and that currency is attention


from Authenticity, Volume 23, Number 3

Every critique of self-care is true. Unfortunately, you still have to take care of yourself.


from America on the Brink, Volume 22, Number 3

Cancel ’s murkiness has made it a very useful word for pushing already contentious or delicate matters into the realm of total confusion.

Learning from Typhoid Mary

from Questioning the Quantified Life, Volume 22, Number 2

Genuine risks to public health are commingled with selective punishment and prejudice.

Blood Sports

from Monsters, Volume 22, Number 1

True crime is not quite about watching people die, but it does require an interest in the subject.

Tell Me I’m OK

from Reality and Its Alternatives, Volume 21, Number 2

It is natural to seek reassurance that we are good people, but from whom?

The Ills That Flesh Is Heir to

from Animals and Us, Volume 21, Number 1

What if our weakness were the best part of us?

The Life You Take Won’t Be Your Own

from The Evening of Life, Volume 20, Number 3

Property and ownership themselves are strange concepts to apply to this question, since the statement that our lives aren’t really our own has implications beyond suicide.

Virtue Signaling

from Identities—What Are They Good For?, Volume 20, Number 2

To what extent is “virtue signaling” a useful, or at least meaningful, phrase?

We’re Here, That’s All

from The Human and the Digital, Volume 20, Number 1

The trouble, as Robinson sees it, is that Americans have accepted a story about America that has stripped the country of its moral resources and heritage. 

Monumental Woes

from The End of the End of History?, Volume 19, Number 3

Symbols, like events, never float free from their context.

Something More Than Clever

from The Meaning of Cities, Volume 19, Number 2

Most people involved with the issues of sexual assault and harassment—both victim’s advocates and advocates for the accused—believe that the present Title IX system needs reform.


from The Post-Modern Self, Volume 19, Number 1

Insincere virtue may be preferable to sincere vice, but only by a hair.

Goodbye to All This

In memory of a happy half a decade.

Groundhog Daze

On living the same day over and over.

Learning from Typhoid Mary

Efforts to protect public health can often lead to selective punishment and prejudice.

The Art of the Possible

A zero sum reality, in which every win is someone else’s loss, exists in a constant state of crisis.

Monumental Woes

It’s time to face up to what Confederate monuments mean.

Two Cultures, At Least

The world of higher education may still be ruled by culture war. But it’s not about the canon.

The Hedgehog’s Array: April 8, 2016

Noteworthy reads from the last week.

Things to Do Instead of Watching the Debate Tomorrow

Read this blog post many times until the evening has somehow slipped away.

Sluttery and Shakespeare

A translation of English to English presumes that ambiguity of language is always a flaw—but it’s not.

The Critical Fate of the Major Novel

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; even smaller minds complain about the rest of these people.

What We're Reading This Summer

Summer reads from THR staff and friends.

With Friends Like These

Stop me if you think you've heard this one before.

Tipping Points

Why can’t we let go of tipping?

An Interview With Alan Jacobs

Humility, laziness, true confessions, and The Karate Kid—an interview with Alan Jacobs on his 79 Theses for Disputation.

Where Moth and Rust Doth Corrupt

The Internet never forgets? Maybe. It's more likely that, in a few years, you won't be able to read this blog post at all.

Mirror, Mirror

For now, the television show that really will hold up the mirror to our technological lives probably has yet to air.

Miss Manners and Mr. Manspreader

“To some,” said Richard Duffy in 1922, “the very word etiquette is an irritant.” It still is. Exhibit A: “manspreading.”

Self-Immolation, In Theory and In Practice

The self-immolator does not seek merely to die, but to die horribly, in such a way that others will be compelled to take notice.

Feeding the Homeless, and Other Crimes

Erasing every ugly reality from view might make life a little more pleasant for the currently fortunate, but it makes for irresponsible governance and cold-hearted citizens.

Prejudice and Place

If by “prejudice” Sandel means “subjective understanding,” then I’m not entirely sure it needs defending.

Some Not-So-Scary Stories for Halloween

Looking for some stories for Halloween? Start here.

“What is Liberal Education For?”: A Conference Postmortem

The liberal education conference has now come and gone. My own panel went well, though I think I left with the same question I had going in, namely: Are there any truthful instrumental arguments to be made for liberal education?

Recognizing the Adult in the Mirror

In art as in life, the real adults are often hard to recognize.

"What is Liberal Education For?": A Preview

One difficulty faced by people talking about higher education—or marketing institutions of higher education—is that the purpose of education is now widely considered to be job training, and on that level, it doesn't appear to be succeeding particularly well