Category Archives: Books & Articles

Historians of the World, Adapt?

Professors Jo Guldi and┬áDavid Armitage threw down the scholarly gauntlet six months ago when they published their bold appeal to rescue History from the “bonfire of the humanities.” The History Manifesto claims that the discipline’s descent into public irrelevance has resulted from current historical scholarship’s lack of long-term thinking. Citing statistics that show a precipitous […]

Dr. Pangloss on Science and the Humanities

Steven Pinker’s latest article in The New Republic seems designed to enrage the very audience that it wants to assuage: “neglected novelists, embattled professors, and tenure-less historians.” In seeking to convince these hardy defenders of the humanities that modern science is not in fact the “enemy,” Dr. Pangloss, er, Pinker paints a rosy picture of […]

Article Fever: On Scholarly Reading

The archive, Jacques Derrida tells us in his 1995 book Archive Fever, “is not only the stockroom and the conservatory for archivable contents of the past which would exist in any case, and just the same, without the archive. [. . .] No, the technical structure of the archiving archive also determines [both] the structure […]

Brooks’ “Practical University”

In his latest New York Times editorial, David Brooks encourages online education companies to impart not only technical knowledge but also what he calls “practical knowledge.” The “practical [online] university” of the future, he claims, should not only teach students what to do, i.e. technical skills, but also how to apply those skills in a […]

What Darwin and Turing Missed

In a recent article for The Atlantic, the philosopher Daniel C. Dennett compares the work of computer pioneer Alan Turing to Darwin’s theories of evolution and natural selection. What both Darwin and Turing realized, argues Dennett, was that the operations of any complex system can be reduced to the apparently mindless repetition of its individual […]

Soviet Russia’s “New Generation”

The American Scholar has published an English translation of “The New Generation,” a short story by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn that is part of a new collection of the author’s works, Apricot Jam, and Other Stories (Counterpoint, 2011). Set in the 1920s and early 30s, the story recounts the parallel experiences of Anatoly Pavlovich Vozdvizhensky, an engineer […]

West Berlin Was Nearly Sold Out, 1961/62

Based on recently declassified documents, the German news magazine Der Spiegel reports that West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer secretly suggested to U. S. President John F. Kennedy that they offer to give up West Berlin to East Germany in exchange for territories in Thuringia, Mecklenburg, and Saxony. The French magazine Le Point elaborates on the […]