Oct 042010
 

Arts & Letters Daily

ideas, criticism, debate

Murders over a Mexican stele, a &ldquo;Modigliani&rdquo; unceremoniously tossed around, frequent calls from the FBI. Life is not dull for James Martin, <strong>the world&rsquo;s top art detective&nbsp;</strong>

Murders over a Mexican stele, a “Modigliani” unceremoniously tossed around, frequent calls from the FBI. Life is not dull for James Martin, the world’s top art detective 
 
 

<strong>Elif Batuman</strong> thinks literature, literary theory, and their study at elite universities can be the stuff of a good novel. But is it a book people would want to read?

Elif Batuman thinks literature, literary theory, and their study at elite universities can be the stuff of a good novel. But is it a book people would want to read?
 
 

Finding his riffs on dead babies unappreciated, <strong>Wayne Koestenbaum</strong> dropped out of a writing workshop. What does his perverse poetry stand for?

Finding his riffs on dead babies unappreciated, Wayne Koestenbaum dropped out of a writing workshop. What does his perverse poetry stand for?
 
 

People hang a lot of labels on <strong>Ed Ruscha</strong>: minimalist, surrealist, neo-Dadaist, and, most of all, cool. That last one is a problem

People hang a lot of labels on Ed Ruscha: minimalist, surrealist, neo-Dadaist, and, most of all, cool. That last one is a problem
 
 

When <strong>improv comedy</strong> is done poorly, which is often, it's excruciating. But even at its best, improv is almost always inferior to prepared material

When improv comedy is done poorly, which is often, it's excruciating. But even at its best, improv is almost always inferior to prepared material
 
 

<strong>Being Leonard Bernstein&rsquo;s daughter</strong>. Hearing of her dad&rsquo;s sexual exploits was one thing; his showing up at Harvard to party was something else entirely

Being Leonard Bernstein’s daughter. Hearing of her dad’s sexual exploits was one thing; his showing up at Harvard to party was something else entirely
 
 

The <strong>Stanford prison experiment</strong> enjoys canonical status, evidence of our innate cruelty and inhumanity. Yet the study almost certainly has no scientific validity. Why does it endure?

The Stanford prison experiment enjoys canonical status, evidence of our innate cruelty and inhumanity. Yet the study almost certainly has no scientific validity. Why does it endure?
 
 

<strong>How did Germans see Nazism</strong>? Not as we see it. Habituation, confusion, distraction, self-interest, fear, rationalization, and a sense of personal powerlessness made terrible things possible

How did Germans see Nazism? Not as we see it. Habituation, confusion, distraction, self-interest, fear, rationalization, and a sense of personal powerlessness made terrible things possible
 
 

Attempts to <strong>justify the humanities</strong> are, too often, self-congratulatory fantasy: I read better books, so I&rsquo;m a better person. Stanley Fish has read the best books. He's not a better person

Attempts to justify the humanities are, too often, self-congratulatory fantasy: I read better books, so I’m a better person. Stanley Fish has read the best books. He's not a better person
 
 

The American Time Use Survey holds a mirror up to society. What does it reveal? The shift to a <strong>post-literate culture</strong> is well underway

The American Time Use Survey holds a mirror up to society. What does it reveal? The shift to a post-literate culture is well underway
 
 
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