Essays & Reviews

Selected Older

“On Political Correctness”

Power, class, and the new campus religion. The American Scholar, Spring 2017.

“Where Have You Gone, Annie Dillard?”

Annie Dillard, The AbundanceThe Atlantic, March 2016.

“Their Struggle”

Elena Ferrante, The Neapolitan NovelsThe Nation, October 12, 2015

“Controlled Rapture”

Adam Begley, UpdikeThe New Republic, September 15, 2014.

“Solitude and Leadership”

An address at West Point. The American Scholar, Spring 2010.

“Faux Friendship”

What is social media doing to our friendships? The Chronicle of Higher Education, December 6, 2009. (This essay has also appeared as “The Death of Friendship.”)

“The End of Solitude”

Thoreau weeps. The Chronicle of Higher Education, January 26, 2009.

“The Disadvantages of an Elite Education”

The essay that grew into Excellent Sheep. The American Scholar, Summer 2008.


“Human History Gets a Rewrite”

A review of David Graeber and David Wengrow’s The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity. The Atlantic, November 2021.

“What’s a Master’s Degree Really Worth?”

On master’s degrees and why people do them. New York, August 17, 2021.

“The Individual Nuisance”

On Harold Rosenberg, my latest intellectual infatuation. Liberties, Spring 2021.

“Stages of Grief”

What the pandemic has done to the arts economy.  Harper’s, June 2021.

“The Death of the Artist, Excellent Sheep”

An interview about my work. Salmagundi, Spring-Summer 2021.

“An Immodest Proposal”

A contribution to a forum on the future of tenure. The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 7, 2021.