Wilfred M. McClay


Wilfred M. McClay is professor of history at Hillsdale College. His latest book is Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story.


from Missing Character, Volume 26, Number 1

A, like, meditation on, like, words like “like.”


from Markets and the Good, Volume 25, Number 3

What if the logic of the social media world continues to envelop our discourse?


from Theological Variations, Volume 25, Number 2

Transparent has become one of the staples of our commercial discourse, a form of bureaucratic-corporate-therapeutic-speak.


from Political Mythologies, Volume 24, Number 1

Mystery gets too little respect.


from Distinctions That Define and Divide, Volume 23, Number 2

The meaning of performative in contemporary parlance is almost exactly the opposite of the word’s original meaning.

Expletive Defeated

from Questioning the Quantified Life, Volume 22, Number 2

We need more profanity? Aren’t we already being inundated with it?

What Freud Got Right

from Monsters, Volume 22, Number 1

We might do a better job of living together if we believed that we are meant to do so.


from Eating and Being, Volume 21, Number 3

Like a lover of endangered species, the lover of endangered words jumps for joy when he sees a word being rescued.

Body and Soul at Table

from Eating and Being, Volume 21, Number 3

Food is a strong proof of our animality; it is equally strong evidence of how we transcend it.

The Auden Course

from Reality and Its Alternatives, Volume 21, Number 2

Who could survive such a feast, let alone digest it?


from Animals and Us, Volume 21, Number 1

My new old friend. An odd formulation. 

Being There

from The Evening of Life, Volume 20, Number 3

A human person is a historical being, in whom the past remains immanent in the present, and whom the wear and tear of time enhances rather than diminishes.


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

Why do we need to have the pretentious and mystifying notion of “curation” drifting in and fogging up the air? 

Why Nations Matter

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

Belief in the bad behavior and collective arrogance of the nationstate has become an article of faith for baby boomers.


from The Meaning of Cities, Volume 19, Number 2

Scholars have not always been the most objective students of populism, partly because their own interests are at stake, scholarship and expertise being so often numbered among the chief targets of populist abuse.

The Strange Persistence of Guilt

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

The therapeutic view of guilt seems to offer the guilt-ridden an avenue of escape from its power.

A Distant Elite

from Meritocracy and its Discontents, Volume 18, Number 2

Rule by merit is, after all, no respecter of persons.


from Work in the Precarious Economy, Volume 18, Number 1

It would be absurd, not to say futile, to argue that languages and words should never change. But there is also a great deal to be said for the idea of language as a lamp, an instrument for the promulgation of ideas and ideals, one that does not merely take its bearings from the things it seeks to illuminate, but in fact reverses that set of relations, and brings its light to bear on a world that badly needs its guidance.

Escaping the Matrix

from Re-enchantment, Volume 17, Number 3

Membership without inquiry is bland and unthinking traditionalism; inquiry without membership is little more than captiousness or kibitzing.

On the Need for Erasure

from Too Much Information, Volume 17, Number 1

The written word is more fully in the world, even as it shows a greater capacity to transcend the world, to raise our gaze above the immediate, replacing the world’s ephemera with enduring objects of contemplation.

Against Mastery

from Europe in Search of Europeans, Volume 16, Number 1

Our dignity derives not only from our relentless drive for mastery but also from our graceful acceptance of limits.