Site Specific

Kristine K. Ronan

Public art vs. art in the public sphere.

Re-enchantment and Iconoclasm in an Age of Images

Anna Marazuela Kim

Much like the old wars of religion that shaped Europe, the new wars are fought on the ground of the image.

Southern Discomfort

James McWilliams

Resolved to reconcile the simultaneous horror and beauty of home, William Christenberry began the annual pilgrimages back south.

Shame, and “Those” Monuments

James McWilliams

The image moved me: Robert E. Lee, that icon of the Confederacy, whose likeness in bronze once towered several stories over New Orleans, was, after 132 years, gone, relegated (for now) to municipal storage.

Desperately Seeking Stillness

Nathan Goldman

Life at prestissimo requires moments of adagio, even of larghissimo.

Trajectory of a Dream

S.D. Chrostowska

Why do dreams, aside from those that prove uncannily prophetic, not befit our biography?

Hipster Elegies

Greg Jackson

The death and life of the great American hipster offers an alternative history of culture over the last quarter century.

Body and Soul at Table

Wilfred M. McClay

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

The Cinema of Inadvertence, or Why I Like Bad Movies

Phil Christman

We bad-movie watchers have our own anticriteria, the sorts of badness we prefer.

Desperately Seeking Mothman

Tara Isabella Burton

At their core, cryptids represent the triumph of the particular over the generic.

Data and the Task of the Humanities

Leif Weatherby

We have automated the society of clues to act on its own divinations, with consequences far beyond the individual.

If These Walls Could Talk

Matthew D. Rodrigues

On our own sensitivity to the magnetism of objects.

Taming the Furies

Martha Bayles

Every society in history has limited speech in some way, yet some have remained freer than others.

Whose Humanities?

Edward Tenner

The humanities may have suddenly mattered more than ever, but their support was also as fragile as it had been for decades.

The Wagner Effect

Charlie Tyson

Far beyond the opera house and the concert hall, we are living in a world Wagner helped make.

“Peace” and the Organization Kid

Mike St. Thomas

Have we exchanged our desire for its objects?

The Strange Undeath of Middlebrow

Phil Christman

Everything that was once considered lowbrow is now triumphant.

Paul Valéry and the Mechanisms of Modern Tyranny

Nathaniel Rudavsky-Brody

All modern forms of government presume an objectification of their citizens.

Lost Together

Matt Dinan

Hunting after the “hidden life of learning,” Zena Hitz defends learning for its own sake.

A New Guild System

Alan Jacobs

I envision a world in which the increased fragmentation of our media scene leads, over time, to the rise of new institutions that are built on stronger foundations.


Wilfred M. McClay

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

Authenticity in Fashion

Richard Thompson Ford

Concern with authenticity seems to be unique to societies marked by conspicuous racial or ethnic hierarchies.

Anything But True Love

Talbot Brewer

Is love so discrete and impregnable that it can subsist in the midst of the most repellent undertakings?

My Identity Problem

Alan Shapiro

We used to want to assimilate into the mainstream. Now identity is front and center of what we want the world to know about us.

Another City

Charles Mathewes

Augustine is crucial to determining the continuity and dissimilarity between the Romans and ourselves.  

A Happier Enlightenment

Richard Hughes Gibson

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

Medical Humanities and the Specialist

Ronald W. Dworkin

Studying art taught me to think differently about medical procedures.

A Democratic Mythic?

Stephen K. White

Carrying forward an evolving “we” of the democratic imagination.

Spirituality Ascendant

Richard Hughes Gibson

God’s funeral was premature.

The Intractable Image

Matthew J. Milliner

The Enlightenment has many exits ramps.

Stop the Term-Creation Meaning-Kidnap!

Sarah M. Brownsberger

Nouns became verbs, verbs became nouns, and both became passive and adjectival.

Remembering Henry Pleasants

Martha Bayles

What Pleasants found in the Afro-American idiom was a body of music intended to comfort the afflicted.


Wilfred M. McClay

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

Beating Slow Horses

Brad East

Mick Herron’s Jackson Lamb is a casualty of both the Cold War and its aftermath.

A (Partial) Defense of Travel Writing

Clare Coffey

Travel is a way of acquiring lifetimes; travel writing, doubly so.

I Sing the Electric Body

Brian Patrick Eha

To begin a sentence is to launch into the void and syntax plays a large role in how you will land.

The Man Who Was Not There

Ohad Reiss-Sorokin

The actual exchange between Oppenheimer and Einstein was far less cordial than the film’s version.

Rare Gift, Rare Grit

Martha Bayles

It’s nice to think that a gift like that possessed by Ella Fitzgerald will always find its way. But luck matters too.

Recombinant Approaches

Leann Davis Alspaugh

Though careful observation comes first, my process involves research: detecting palimpsests in the architecture or observing how people move and inhabit the place.

Monkey Takes Selfie, Lawsuits Ensue

Leann Davis Alspaugh

A monkey's selfie has done more than just raise awareness about an endangered species.

Ecce Homo

Leann Davis Alspaugh

That Edvard Munch never met Friedrich Nietzsche is one of the great missed encounters of the modern age.

Color Commentary

Leann Davis Alspaugh

Pantone's Marsala is no mauve, but it does reflect our present cultural mood.

Art for Data’s Sake

Leann Davis Alspaugh

To reduce a museum experience to the laws of supply and demand devalues not only the art itself but also the curators’ years of education and expertise—connoisseurship on which we rely in institutions that position themselves as cultural arbiters.

Recognizing Art

Leann Davis Alspaugh

When El Greco heard the insultingly low valuation for his work, he launched a long and bitter court battle that quietly changed the perception of artists and art in Spain.

Could Show You Incredible Things—But That Would Be a Trademark Violation

Leann Davis Alspaugh

Taylor Swift’s recent trademarking frenzy is another example of how artists are scrambling to maintain control over their work in the face of the digital tsunami.

Harlequin as Hammer

Leann Davis Alspaugh

Cubism’s stylistic hegemony—the dislocated binaries, the tactile surfaces in a two-dimensional work, and the distortions—interferes with what we want to understand about what few clues we can decipher.

Beethoven and the Beef Jerky Maker

Leann Davis Alspaugh

If technology rarely delivers on its claims, then need we waste so much as a backward glance as we dash ahead to the next digital milestone?

Big Easy Ink

Leann Davis Alspaugh

New Orleans, where spectacle and transgression are part of the infrastructure, is the ideal place to conduct completely unscientific research on tattooing.

Enchanted Embroidery

Leann Davis Alspaugh

Using photos from old magazines makes for a vulnerable working surface, since the paper usually is old, yellowed, and somewhat brittle. I like it that this quality emphasizes the human and personal vulnerability that exists as a subject in my work.

The Hedgehog Recommends

Some spooky stories for Halloween.

Collage Envy

Leann Davis Alspaugh

The wonder of Tom Wesselmann's 1962 collage, Still Life No. 1

Release and Attack, Speed and Drag

“The world just flipped itself over with hardly any recognition of the tentacles it would sprout”—from an interview with artist Rosamond Casey, whose work appears in our spring issue.

In Self-Isolation with The Plague

John Rosenthal

To the relatives of the dead, the plague is here. 

A Painter Crawling toward God

Leanne Ogasawara

A deeply personal encounter with the plague.

The Uniqueness of the Here and Now

Cecile McWilliams

The solitude of sickness is not a waste of time but rather a compression of it, a bundle the size of a pill bottle.

Story of a Photograph

John Rosenthal

The man who approached me on Chartres Street looked like he’d been tossed away.

Groundhog Daze

B.D. McClay

On living the same day over and over.

More than a Matter of Taste

Joshua Hren

Henry James’s fiction shows how aesthetic misjudgments can be connected to moral vice.

All Eyes on Me

Alan Jacobs

Sometimes irony is a painful awareness of our own absurdity.

G.K. Chesterton and the Art of the First Nations

Matthew J. Milliner

The secrets of Jerusalem are also lodged in Jacksonville, Joplin, and Joliet

How to Destroy a Civilization

Walter C. Clemens, Jr.

Where is culture that gave humanity the symphonies and operas of Glinka, Mussorgsky, Tchaikovsky, and Rimsky-Korsakov?

In the Ruins of Western Civilization

Dan Edelstein

We can learn from the outdated Western Civ model, even as we transcend it.

The Uses of Artistic Extravagance

Alan Jacobs

Jean-Luc Godard, like Nietzsche and Wittgenstein and Heidegger, is worth paying attention to even when we think his work is bad

Pretending to Destroy Art to Save the World

Chiraag Shah

What we are seeing, then, is a fictional spectacle—a pseudo-iconoclastic event.

The Mechanical Imagination

John Fechtel

In the output of the AI generated image, the technique is there but the techne is not.

What the Light Says We Are

Ryan Kemp

How we become convinced that life demands our devoted love.

On Fiction’s Lawlessness

Richard Hughes Gibson

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

The Beatles and the Glory of Creative Risk

Vincent Ercolano

It took the roiling events of 1963 to open the ears and hearts of the American public to the Beatles.

Last Tango

James Conaway

A bad potboiler is not made better by stylish writing; it is made worse. 

Art and the Smartphone

Stephen K. White

Could we ban cell phone photography in museums and at performances?

Beyond the Exaltation of the Individual Dancer

Alice Courtright

Is it possible to imagine the ballet world without a primary teleology of aesthetic perfectionism and a baseline of low self-worth?

The Arts as Resistance

Arthur Aghajanian

What are the implications for any society that emphasizes monuments to power and domination over imagination and the arts?

Tail Pipes and Trail Pipes

Charles Cronin

There is a poignant vulnerability to dereliction pipe organs face in a world saturated with synthetically produced musical sound.

A Jazz Age Mystery in a Reimagined America

Alan Jacobs

A murder mystery that is also an impressive sociological imaginary.

Through the Rent, Eternity Enters

Abram Van Engen, Christian Wiman, and Marilyn Nelson

You read a poem and it awakens you to something that you already knew.