A review of The First Word The Search for the Origins of Language by Christine Kenneally. Linguists seek a time when we spoke as one: A controversial research project is trying to trace all human language to a common root. A sampling of the strange, unexpected shapes that English takes around the world: A review of Rotten English: A Literary Anthology. Ariadne's thread: Thousands of literary texts are now available online, all submitted by volunteers. Is this the most enlightened initiative since English studies was invented? Lost in the blogosphere: Why literary blogging won't save our literary culture.
From The New Yorker, Louis Menand on the biography business: A review of Shoot the Widow by Merlye Secrest and Biography: A Brief History by Nigel Hamilton. As he set out, albeit unwittingly, to change the literary landscape, Jack Kerouac started off by going the wrong way. Clive James interviews Ian McEwan, P.J. O'Rourke, and more. Monda’s World: Antonio Monda is arguably the most well-connected New York cultural figure you’ve never heard of. A review of Lex Populi: The Jurisprudence of Popular Culture by William P. MacNeil. An obsessive deference to fame, and an all-consuming preoccupation with it, has become the defining mark of our culture. But why? Literary chic: J.K. Rowling and other female authors are releasing their inner fashionistas along with their novels.
Television, how novel: People who hate television love to talk about it, not realizing they could be spending their time improving their minds—with novelizations. Todd Levin looks at the best of the oeuvre, with and without Steve Urkel. Conservatives learn to say "ay, caramba": Nearly one-third of The Simpsons’ adult audience describe themselves as conservative. From Nerve, here are the 50 greatest sex scenes in cinema. The Fetishist Next Door: The all-American appeal of Bettie Page. The Intellectual Showman: Whether or not they like his work, scholars have plenty to discuss in the career of Stanley Kubrick. Flying Solo: Paul Cantor on The Aviator and libertarian philosophy. Political theatre in a post-political age: This PhD thesis gauges the contemporary landscape of political theatre at a time in which everything, and consequently nothing, is political. Out of the Fringe and Into the Spotlight: Independent artists are using festivals like Capital Fringe to push political theater — and their pet issues — into the mainstream.
A review of The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It by Paul Collier. Into Africa: Investors eye globalisation’s final frontier. On Paper It Is Writ: From history's beginning, globalization has had winners and losers. A study suggests globalization will stall unless the gains are spread more evenly within nations. Third world way: The UN Global Compact may be the best way to draw corporations into the development process. Is its optimism justified? Five Lies My Economist Told Me: Economics prides itself on being the most scientific of the social sciences. Yet the X and Y axes can’t always capture globalization’s unpredictable turns. A look at five ways in which the world economy is pushing economists to think outside the box.
An interview with British diplomat Carne Ross, author of Independent Diplomat: Dispatches from an Unaccountable Elite. John Gray on how the wider conflict now engulfing Iraq lays bare the absurdity of liberal interventionism - - and the decline of US power. Like most liberal "war hawks", the Brookings "scholars" Michael O'Hanlon and Ken Pollack falsely pretend that they were critics of the Iraq strategy to save their own reputations. Out How: Michael D. Intriligator on the economics of ending wars. The Genocide Card: Rick Perlstein on conservatives' laughable moral upsmanship on the subject of leaving Iraq.
From Reason, is he good for the libertarians? Why some libertarians don't want to join the Ron Paul revolution. Why the Republicans don't like their candidates: The GOP front-runner isn't Fred Thompson or Mitt Romney. It's "none of the above". Fred Thompson, Neocon: He has a strong claim on the neoconservative heart, and if he ends up in the White House, the moribund neocons will rise again. Jonathan Chait on Fred Thompson, humble country lobbyist.
How much worse a president would Rudy Giuliani be than George W. Bush? Kevin Baker counts the ways. See Rudy Run: Why Giuliani, despite everything, remains the Republican frontrunner. From Vanity Fair, Giuliani's Princess Bride: Judith Giuliani always dreamed big, which got her out of small-town Pennsylvania, through two marriages, and into the arms of Rudy Giuliani. But, as her husband runs for president, people are asking, "Who does she think she is?" White House, right spouse: The political wife is rising, but she is wary of partnerships that blur the professional and domestic divide.
From TAP, a review of On Suicide Bombing by Talal Asad and Dying to Kill: The Allure of Suicide Terror by Mia Bloom. Science and Terrorism: We use science and technology for the management and improvement of our lives – yet it appears that our increasing technical sophistication also enables small groups and individuals to cause great harm. A prescription for terror: Is there a connection between the study of science and a readiness to commit terrorist acts? A War Best Served Cold: Did George Kennan know the best way to fight terrorism?
Stacking the Court: The method most frequently employed to bring the Supreme Court to heel has been increasing or decreasing its membership. Benchwarmers: Everything you never wanted to know about picking judges for an important court you've never heard of. Throw restraint to the wind: And other ways for the legal left to rein in the Roberts Court. Despite his promises to do the opposite, under Chief Justice John Roberts the Supreme Court has become more divided than at any point in recent history. But is that such a bad thing?
An interview with Richard Land, author of The Divided States of America? What Liberals AND Conservatives are Missing in the God-and-Country Shouting Match. A review of A Conflict of Visions by Thomas Sowell. An interview with Elliot D. Cohen, author of The Last Days of Democracy: How Big Media and Power-hungry Government Are Turning America into a Dictatorship. Crisis of the Old Liberal Order: Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., who died in February at the age of 89, spent 60 years being famous as an emblem and arbiter of American liberalism, though his importance waned as liberalism's did, writes William Voegeli.
A review of The Shawnees and the War for America by Colin G. Calloway and The Cherokee Nation and the Trail of Tears by Theda Perdue and Michael D. Green. A review of Wolf of the Deep: Raphael Semmes and the Notorious Confederate Raider CSS Alabama by Stephen Fox. A review of What This Cruel War Was Over: Soldiers, Slavery, and the Civil War by Chandra Manning. A review of Driven Out: The Forgotten War Against Chinese Americans by Jean Pfaelzer.
From Postmodern Culture, Marc Botha (Durham): How To Lose Your Voice Well; Annette Schlichter (UC- Irvine): "I Can't Get Sexual Genders Straight": Kathy Acker's Writing of Bodies and Pleasures; Steven Helmling (Delaware): How To Read Adorno on How To Read Hegel; a review of Chantal Mouffe's On the Political; and a review of After Poststructuralism: Reading, Stories and Theory by Colin Davis. A review of Dialectics of the Self: Transcending Charles Taylor by Ian Fraser.
From Cabinet, Talk to the Hand: a generalized sense that something is awry in the world of gesture is considerably older than Giorgio Agamben allows; in February 2004, French-Israeli filmmaker Eyal Sivan filed a libel suit in the Paris courts against philosopher Alain Finkielkraut (and the transcript); and I Can See Your Ideology Moving: An essay on Ventriloquizing Marx.
Eric A. Posner (Chicago) and Adrian Vermeule (Harvard): Constitutional Showdowns. A review of Deliberative Democracy and the Institutions of Judicial Review by Christopher F. Zurn. A review of Reflections on Freedom of Speech and the First Amendment by George Anastaplo. A review of Toward a Theory of Human Rights: Religion, Law, and Courts by Michael J. Perry. A review of Becoming Eichmann: Rethinking the Life, Crimes and Trial of a "Desk Murderer" by David Cesarani. Mark Lilla reviews Motherland: A Philosophical History of Russia by Lesley Chamberlain. Been there, shun that: American historians have, for the most part, abandoned the study of culture, writes Richard Pells.
From The Chronicle, after years of controversy, the University of Colorado has fired Ward Churchill, asserting that the decision is unrelated to his having famously insulted the victims of the September 11 attacks. From Inside Higher Ed, two articles, pro and con, on the Churchill firing. Academia's hidden crackpots: What kind of discipline would nurture a hate-filled academic such as fired professor Ward Churchill? Sentimental Revolutionaries: College Republicans pick a new leader. Colleges across the county are engaged in a grand social experiment to fuse academic and social life; a look at how chastity clubs are a new concept at elite (and liberal) campuses; how the Greeks learned to stop worrying and live with the Roman goddess of wisdom; every institution of higher learning has a slogan — something about truth or character strengthening. Then there are the unofficial slogans; and a gap year is good for the gapper, but what about mom and dad?