McPherson and Dylan’s “Girl From the North Country”

It shouldn’t work. After all, jukebox musicals are an abuse to the songs, most presented as a verse and a chorus or two, the idea of the music enough, so move along. With… Continue reading

Disinfecting the News?

I’ve avoided visiting the Newseum in Washington, DC. for some time. I vaguely remember when it opened at its first location 21 years ago, but I was long out of the profession and… Continue reading

Is Academia a Cult?

There’s an article in The Washington Post from earlier this week that all of us within academia today might want to pay attention to. By Andrew Marzoni, an English PhD, it is called “The Cult… Continue reading

How the Other Half Lives

The following is excerpted and adapted from Chapter Five: How the Other Half Lives of my book The Cult of Individualism: A History of an Enduring American Myth (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger Publishers, 2013). It… Continue reading

“Just then Tom Paine, himself/Came running from across the field”

“This will be an election of… common sense,” said Donald Trump recently. Common sense? The greatest American writer of common sense (though Ben Franklin might believe he should take that crown) was Thomas… Continue reading

Can We Cross the Great Divide?

When my book The Cult of Individualism: A History of an Enduring American Myth appeared in 2013, I thought it’s Afterword (included below) both naive and overly hopeful–even though I had written it. Over the… Continue reading

Challenging Our Students and Ourselves

Yesterday, in class, I showed my students an old clip of Jon Stewart with Tucker Carlson on Crossfire. It’s from 2004, but it has relevancy now. That CNN show, as Stewart points out, was… Continue reading

Stop disparaging professors. They work for a better America

Yesterday, I posted an expanded version of “Stop Disparaging Professors. They Work for a Better America” on I added, in particular, mentions of a number of professors in the public sphere, including… Continue reading

Too Perfect?

Maybe it was just too perfect a topic for my classes today. Certainly, though, I couldn’t resist. It had everything. It had: Topicality that would keep students interested; Relationship to our university system… Continue reading

Last Call for Alcohol?

Amazingly, there is still one unmentionable in l’Affaire Kavanaugh: the role of alcohol. That’s not surprising, for American culture has still to come to terms with alcohol or with the culpability of the drunk.… Continue reading