Phi Beta Cons

Alternative Groups

In surveying the academic scene, especially the humanities, one can easily get carried away by the negative. But there are spots of light, and they deserve more attention. One is the Association of Literary Scholars and Critics, a scholarly organization founded around 20 years ago. It started as an anti-Modern Language Association, when arguments over the canon, politicized curricula, and race/class/gender themes reached the public eye. But for the last few years, the ALSC has settled into a fairly apolitical identity, and its members come from all across the spectrum. What characterizes it most importantly is a focus on literary study as a practice with its own integrity–not disconnected from political and social matters, but not exhausted by them either.
The annual convention is in San Francisco this year, in October, and the list of panels gives an idea of the outlook. We have discussions of John Donne, Graeco-Roman lyric, science fiction, literature in K-12 classrooms (I’ll be on that one), and many others, along with several seminars with a dozen or so speakers speaking for around 5 minutes each.  The discourse isn’t aimed at specialists, but at anybody with an abiding interest in literary history and experience.
For more information, the web site is

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

When the Tide Comes In

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays. Dear Reader, “Save Ike from the Kikes.” I’d better explain. This weekend marks the one-year anniversary of the Nazi troll armies’ march ... Read More

Stephen Miller’s ‘Hypocrisy’

What does it mean to be a hypocrite in politics? Stephen Miller, an adviser to President Donald Trump, has been denounced in the pages of Politico for his “hypocrisy,” by his uncle, no less. Miller, like the president, supports a more restrictive approach to immigration. His uncle, David S. Glosser, ... Read More