Richard Hughes Gibson


Richard Hughes Gibson is professor of English at Wheaton College and the author of three books, including Paper Electronic Literature: An Archeology of Born-Digital Materials.

Language Machinery

from Markets and the Good, Volume 25, Number 3

The ultimate semantic receivers, selectors, and transmitters are still us.

Realism Confronts Utopia

from Theological Variations, Volume 25, Number 2

The verbomania that compelled ordinary Russians to devour thousand-page books appears increasingly remote, even mythological.

The Critic’s Critic

from Authenticity, Volume 23, Number 3

An important part of his legacy is his criticism of the critics.

A Happier Enlightenment

from Authenticity, Volume 23, Number 3

We can’t properly define the Enlightenment without making reference to happiness.

Paper Revolutions

from Eating and Being, Volume 21, Number 3

If projects like E-Estonia mark a break with paper, they also represent the continuation of an administrative order made possible by the first paper revolution.

Technology and Modern Friendship

from Reality and Its Alternatives, Volume 21, Number 2

The interplay of friendship and technology has been far longer-running than we think.

Crosscutting Lives

from The Evening of Life, Volume 20, Number 3

Everybody read Erasmus. Like all the other Reformers, Luther included several Erasmus titles in his personal library.

Just Staying in Touch?

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

What has been the fate of phatic communication in social media?

Friendship by the Book

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

New books unleashed new projects, and new projects demanded new books, on and on, as if there were shelving without end.

A Reader’s Report

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

Sven Birkerts’s picture of “literary reading,” meanwhile, is too narrow to encompass the experience of even the books he most treasures.

The Afterlife of Character

The greatest characters possess an irrepressible vitality.

Taking the Long View

The historical novel strives to recreate not only the material dimensions of a past age but also its mindset.

Unfinished Business

An unfinished fiction is a memento mori.

Why Characters Write

Consider another problem of motivation in the house of fiction: why characters write.

Border Crossings

When translation becomes a part of the art of fiction.

In Through the Out Door

An abandoned—or abandoning—god might also reappear.

Conversation Pieces

Austen’s sparing use of attributions is also a sign of her confidence in her art. She dispensed with unnecessary scaffolding.

The Art of Compression

The very short story can conjure a fiction out of almost nothing.

A New Rule of Education for the Age of AI

The answer cannot simply come in the form of another list of dos-and-don’ts.

The Human Reader

Calvino recognized the digital age as an existential condition as well as a technological one.

Wonder-Working Powers

Philosophers are not the only cultivators of wonder.

On Fiction’s Lawlessness

If there is a war between database and narrative in Cervantes and Sterne, it is a merry one.


Fiction writers are world builders.

Introducing Critical Miniatures

A new, exclusive web series.


We all must adapt to a new textual culture made by GPT-3.

Past Lives of the Paragraph

Making a new paragraph is as easy as drawing a thin line in the margin.

Ukraine: Against History and Geography

Ukraine has become the geography of vicious truths

The Making of an Everyday Object in a High-Tech World

Just as Mims worries now over the unfulfilling tedium of employment at Amazon, Smith worried over the deleterious effects of monotonous work.

States of Purple

The red vs. blue electoral map has contributed to the toxicity of our politics.

Time to Quit

Facebook is free only in the most superficial sense.

Talk with the Hand!

I observed that the most effective communicators delivered the most histrionic performances. 

Field Notes of a Sentence Watcher

Taking pleasure in a well-crafted sentence is a good in itself.

In the Sideshadows

Everyone contributes to the pandemic, so all bear responsibility.

The Idiosyncratic School of Reading

Self-knowledge and pleasure, the Idiosyncratics teach us, go hand in hand through the library.

No Mere Acquaintances

Renewing your weaks social ties might make your closest ties stronger.

From Pilgrim to Tourist to...?

One thinks of identity whenever one is not sure of where one belongs.

Reading Wealth of Nations and Meeting Adam Smith

To measure the Wealth of Nations, you had to inspect the shirts on people’s backs and the shoes on their feet.

Frederick Douglass and the American Project

It would be hard to blame him if he had lost faith in the republic.

An Appeal for Friction Writing

Our writing process lacks sufficient resistance, hesitation, reconsideration.

More Than Just a Word

Americans have been making arguments about the nature of their unity from the beginning.

A History Lesson from Alexander Hamilton

The events of January 6 went off script.

Digital Democracy’s Road Ahead

Looking abroad provides some relief from the doomsday projections with which we began.

The State of Digital Democracy Isn’t As Dire As It Seems

You don’t have to put on a rose-colored headset to see the upsides.

Can We Salvage Digital Democracy?

Can we salvage digital democracy?

Tortoises and Tigers: The Pleasures of a Long Read

Why read long books? Well, if you have to ask…

Still Searching

The Internet is a technical system that has reshaped social roles and relationships in ways that we are at this point far from fully understanding. We are living out the terms of the new social contract.

Our Once and Future Citizens

How might the pandemic alter civic engagement?

On Tele-teaching

Any channel through which we can still communicate is good. It’s just not enough.

The Rebirth of Purgatory

While the purgatorial “industries” of Transhumanism might not yet represent a counter-revolution on the order of the Reformation, they are already substantial enough to warrant our attention.