• Best of BLARB, 2018

    As we near the end of 2018, we’re looking back at some of the pieces we’re proud to have published this year. Here, we’ve highlighted some of the most notable pieces from our very own BLARB. We hope you enjoy — and if you’re moved to support LARB during our fund drive this December, we welcome your donation, no matter how big or small, to sustain the operations of our 501(c)(3), keep our publication paywall-free, and increase our capacity to pay our contributors. 

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    Avital and Nimrod: Sexual Harassment and ‘Campy Communications’ at NYU” by Jon Wiener and “What the Avital Ronell Affair Says About the State of the Profession” by Marjorie Perloff

    In these two essays examining the scandal involving professor of German and Comp Lit at NYU Avital Ronell, the question is posed: who is the real victim here? In his essay, Wiener questions Ronell’s supporters about how their opinions have changed. Perloff argues that the casualty is the university at large.


    How we Evaluate Our Current Circumstances: Talking to Steven Pinker” by Andy Fitch

    Andy Fitch and experimental psychologist Steven Pinker discuss Enlightenment for the modern era, using Pinker’s Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress.


    Grad School as Conversion Therapy” by Grace Lavery

    In a response to the Department of Health and Human Services Title IX change, and to Christopher Reed’s memorandum about a campus climate overly committed to “correctness,” Grace Lavery asserts: “deadnaming and misgendering are not acceptable scholarly practices, and they are not covered by the principle of academic freedom.”


    Is Motherhood a Genre?” by Sarah Blackwood

    “When we come to books about motherhood interested only in their treatment of a subject we miss what they actually offer us, which is a way to see the social, cultural, and aesthetic structures that produce the emotional expectations.” Sarah Blackwood asks: does treating books about motherhood as a genre in itself limit our reading of books about motherhood?


    Homer and Hatred: On Jordan Peterson’s Mythology” by Adam Novy

    Adam Novy examines how Jordan Peterson, the alt-right’s favorite philosopher, has problematic readings of the classics, and is a “product of the postmodernism he hates.”


    A Reactionary Renaming: Stanford and English Language Politics” by Hollis Robbins

    In September, Stanford University announced its plan to remove from campus most references to Junipero Serra, the Spanish Franciscan priest who founded nine Catholic missions in California between 1769 and 1784. Hollis Robbins asserts that this decision ignores the Hispanic legacy in US history.


    How Anthony Bourdain Revealed Korea — and Los Angeles’s Koreatown” by Colin Marshall

    Bourdain, on page and screen alike, drew himself as the wisecracking yet open-minded, aged yet youthful, grumpy yet eager figure who drew the admiration of millions.” Colin Marshall reflects on Anthony Bourdain’s visits to Korea and Koreatown on “No Reservations” and “Parts Unknown.”


    Renovating the House (and Senate…)” by Bonnie Honig

    “One thing that sent Christine Blasey Ford to therapy in 2012 was a marital disagreement about a house renovation,” writes Bonnie Honig, in a reflection on the Kavanaugh hearings, the importance of doors, and how change happens.


    Real Toads at the International Cryptozoology Museum” by Jacquelyn Ardam

    Jacquelyn Ardam’s essay about the International Cryptozoology in Portland, Maine covers Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster and other cryptids, and the fragility of life as a contingent faculty member in academia.


    Truth and Testimony: An Interview with Meghan O’Gieblyn” by Nathan Goldman 

    Nathan Goldman interviews essayist Meghan O’Gieblyn about her essay collection, Interior States. Raised an evangelical Christian until she abandoned the faith in college, O’Gieblyn “traces of the religious in the supposedly secular, as well as the inverse.” Nathan Goldman writes: “This position — combined with her canny prose, keen intellect, and expansive curiosity — makes her an essayist of uncommon vision.”


    Feminist Ambivalences at Exclusive Women’s Social Club” by Danielle Drori

    When I joined The Wing, I had hoped to find out that women indeed shared foundational political, social, economic, and cultural goals. Three months later when I left the club, I felt ashamed I had not known better.” Danielle Drori reflects on her short-lived membership at the women’s co-working space and club The Wing, and Nancy Fraser’s theory of feminist ambivalences.



    Image: 7 am Sunday Morning, by Kerry James Marshall, 2003. Acrylic on canvas banner, 120 x 216 inches. Collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Joseph and Jory Shapiro Fund by exchange, photo by Michal Raz-Russo. © MCA Chicago