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Reading List December 28, 2018

Our Most-Loved Essays of 2018

A countdown of the top ten.

As 2018 draws to a close, we have been looking back at the incredible variety of pieces that we published this year. Last week we brought you a selection of essays that might have passed you by, and now it’s time to celebrate our most popular pieces that tackle everything from quantum physics to Hollywood blockbusters.

—Rosie Gillies


Black AfterLives Matter
by Ruha Benjamin

“To be white is to colonize the afterlife. Second chances are the currency of white supremacy, ‘benefit of the doubt’ is the credit system, a ‘fresh start’ is the return on investment.”

• • •

Below the Asphalt Lies the Beach
by Seyla Benhabib

“In 1968, we hoped for liberation from the spirit of consumerism, the shackles of the patriarchy, bourgeois family, nationalism, and much else. No theoretical tradition captured this as well as the critical theory of the Frankfurt School.”

• • •

Extreme Pregnancy
by Andrea Long Chu

In her response to our summer forum, Once and Future Feminist, Chu writes about banking her sperm early in her transition to become a woman—what she refers to as “the most expensive orgasms of my life.”

• • •

MLK Now
a forum with Brandon M. Terry

The lead essay from this year’s winter issue argues that canonization has prevented a reckoning with the substance of King’s intellectual, ethical, and political commitments.

• • •

A Strategy for Ruination
an interview with China Miéville

Featured in our fall 2017 print issue, Global Dystopias, our conversation on socialism, optimism, and “salvagepunk” with writer and Marxist theorist China Miéville was made freely available online this year.

• • •

Rescuing Economics from Neoliberalism
by Dani Rodrik

“Neoliberals are not wrong when they argue that our most cherished ideals are more likely to be attained when our economy is strong. But they are wrong in believing that there is a universal recipe for improving economic performance.”

• • •

The Racist Politics of the English Language
by Lawrence B. Glickman 

“The media’s use of phrases like ‘racially tinged’ and ‘racial insults’ telegraphs that racism is normal, non-pathological, and within the range of mainstream political disagreement.”

• • •

The Erotics of Mentorship
by Marta Figlerowicz and Ayesha Ramachandran

From Plato to Sartre, intellectualized student-teacher romances have become something of a genre in Western philosophical writing. How can university classrooms remain safe spaces amidst pedagogical Eros?

• • •

The Defeat of Reason
by Tim Maudlin

Two new books on quantum physics and Thomas Kuhn are both spellbinding intellectual adventures into the limits, fragility, and infirmity of human reason.

• • •

‘Black Panther’ Is Not the Movie We Deserve
by Christopher Lebron 

Our viral essay from earlier this year argues that Black Panther, a movie unique for its black star power and its many thoughtful portrayals of strong black women, depends on a shocking devaluation of black American men.

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