What’s Wrong with Public Intellectuals?


Mark Grief reflects on the history of the Partisan Review, and offers a new understanding of public intellectual work that challenges more than entertains. Suppose we try a different, sideways description of the old public intellectual idea. “Public intellect” in the mid-20th century names an institutionally duplicitous culture. It drew up accounts of the sorts… Read more »

What Makes a Good Essay?


  Michele Filgate interviews Leslie Jaminson and Roxanne Gay on their two recent essay collections.  Both agree that a good essay needs to look both inward and outward, combining personal experience and larger cultural ideas, all grounded upon a creativity and intellectual rigor. Well, going along with what both of you said, I wanted to… Read more »

Reconciling With Dubai


Maryam Wissam al Dabbagh writes about what it means to be from Dubai, and ponders the paradox of exile.  Do you remember how Dubai was? It’s a question I am often asked when the other person finds out that I was born and raised in this city. I cannot answer this question, like many others… Read more »

Between Judgment And Spontaneity


Aging literary scholar, Mark Edmundson reflects on his final days on the basketball court. “Many activities that we pursue with particular fervor,” he notes,  “are attempts to make time go away, to let us live in a pure present.”  Edmunson finds in the art of writing and the art of sport a deeper awareness of… Read more »

Beyond the Personal

Empathy Exams

Leslie Jamison describes her sense of the personal essay and its connections to journalism and critical writing.  Her recent collection of essays entitled “The Empathy Exams” combine the personal with the the cultural.  “I’m interested,” she writes, “in essays that follow the infinitude of a private life toward the infinitude of public experience.”   In… Read more »