College students at a rally. Photo: Roanoke College

Recent links of note:

“A Report from Morningside”
Philip Jefferey, First Things
Over the past two years as campus controversies have made national headlines on a nearly weekly basis, a popular narrative has emerged about the political inclinations of today’s students—that is, that they are increasingly and irredeemably progressive, with perhaps a small surviving pocket of conservative objectors. At least one freshly-minted graduate, however, has taken up the task of correcting this narrative. In an essay in First Things, Philip Jefferey of Columbia University recalls the swell in numbers and vitality that conservative student groups have recently experienced, as formerly liberal students increasingly seek alternatives to the political correctness of their peers and overseers. As Right-aligned groups at schools across the country continue to welcome these seekers, they’re faced with the task of articulating a coherent alternative to the progressive vision for the academy—an achievement that will determine whether they’ll rise to become a legitimate countermovement, or merely muddle on as conservative “safe spaces.”

“F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Shimmering Visions”
Sam Tannehaus, The New Republic
It is richly ironic—though entirely unsurprising—that the character tropes invented in literature are often projected onto the lives of authors. Sometimes these narrative interpretations of writers’ lives are too apparent to ignore, such as in Reiner Stach’s three-volume biography of Kafka, in which the subject’s grievous health and sexual misadventures amount to a character sketch that’s glaringly similar to his own deranged protagonists. In his review of Paradise Lost, a new biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald, however, Sam Tannehaus accuses the book’s author David S. Brown of reaching too far into metaphor, glibly recasting Fitzgerald as a Byronic hero who reluctantly suffered through the Jazz Age excess that he chronicled. Tannehaus aims to rebut Brown’s impression with a few examples of Fitzgerald’s own cultural commentary plucked from private correspondence, showing that Fitzegerald’s misgivings about modern life resulted more directly from discrete personal traumas than from a grand sense of reactionary dissent.

From our pages:

“Franklin & the crisis of American faith”
Finnegan Schick
A review of Benjamin Franklin: The Religious Life of a Founding Father by Thomas S. Kidd.