Louis Menand’s Advice to Young Literary Critics

Question: What advice do\r\nyou have for an aspiring literary critic?


Louis Menand: I think the only way I can answer that is to say it, \r\nin my\r\nown case, because people do, students do say, “Well, how did you get to \r\nbe a\r\nprofessor and also a magazine writer?” \r\nSo, my answer to that is that I didn’t plan it, A; B, that to be a\r\nprofessor, you have to pay your professional dues, there’s no kind of \r\nshortcut\r\nto that.  So you have to write a\r\ndissertation, you have to publish an academic monograph, you have to \r\nhave, you\r\nknow, respective peers in your scholarly field and all of that stuff, \r\nyou can’t\r\nkind of substitute book reviews for that.


At the same time, one of the good things about the\r\nprofession of being a professor, is that you also have time to do what\r\ninterests you and what you care about or what you’re good at.  In my case that was, it did turn out to\r\nbe magazine writing, I don’t know that I would’ve predicted that, but \r\nthat’s\r\nhow it turned out.


So the fortunate thing for me is that my writing is\r\n such,\r\nthe way I naturally write is such that it’s just commercial enough for\r\nmagazines to publish it and just academic enough for me to have a career\r\n in the\r\nacademy.  So it’s worked out really\r\nwell.  But I’m not one of the\r\npeople who has a kind of scholarly hat and writes in a certain way for \r\nan\r\nacademic audience and then puts on a public intellectual hat and writes a\r\ndifferent way for a different kind of readership.  I\r\n generally write the way I write, no matter what and it\r\nseems to have worked for me.


So I think in general there’s no point in going \r\ninto a field\r\nlike English literature if you’re not going to have fun with it.  I mean, you’re not going to get\r\nanything else out of it, you’re not going to get rich, you’re not going \r\nto get\r\nfamous, and you’re not going to really have a big affect on, you know, \r\nforeign\r\npolicy.  But you are going to do\r\nthings that if you’re interested in it, that nobody else can do with \r\ntheir\r\ncareers.  And if you’re not going\r\nto enjoy it and have fun with it and feel like this is what you care \r\nabout, I\r\ndefinitely would not advise going down the very long road to get there.

"There’s no point in going into a field like English literature unless you’re going to have fun with it."

The 10 most influential women in tech right now

These thought leaders, founders, and entrepreneurs are propelling the kind of future we want to be a part of.

Credit: Flickr, The Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch
Technology & Innovation
  • The tech industry may be dominated by men in terms of numbers, but there are lots of brilliant women in leadership positions that are changing the landscape.
  • The women on this list are founders of companies dedicated to teaching girls to code, innovators in the fields of AI, VR, and machine learning, leading tech writers and podcasters, and CEOs of companies like YouTube and Project Include.
  • This list is by no means all-encompassing. There are many more influential women in tech that you should seek out and follow.

Keep reading Show less

Teen popularity linked to increased depression in adolescence, decreased depression in adulthood

The results of this study showed depressive symptoms being highest in adolescence, declining in early adulthood and then climbing back up again into one's early 30s.

Credit: Dragana Gordic on Shutterstock
Mind & Brain
  • A 2020 Michigan State University study examined the link between teen social networks and the levels of depression later in life.
  • This study used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, specifically targeting social network data. The results showed depressive symptoms being highest in adolescence and declining in early adulthood, then climbing back up again into one's early 30s.
  • There are several ways you can attempt to stay active and socially connected while battling depression, according to experts.
Keep reading Show less

90,000-year-old human hybrid found in ancient cave

Researchers have just discovered the remains of a hybrid human.

Researchers in a chamber of the Denisova cave in Siberia, where the fossil of a Denisova 11 was discovered. CreditIAET SB RAS, Sergei Zelensky
Surprising Science

90,000 years ago, a young girl lived in a cave in the Altai mountains in southern Siberia. Her life was short; she died in her early teens, but she stands at a unique point in human evolution. She is the first known hybrid of two different kinds of ancient humans: the Neanderthals and the Denisovans.

Keep reading Show less

In quantum entanglement first, scientists link distant large objects

Physicists create quantum entanglement, making two distant objects behave as one.

Credit: Niels Bohr Institute
Surprising Science
  • Researchers accomplished quantum entanglement between a mechanical oscillator and a cloud of atoms.
  • The feat promises application in quantum communication and quantum sensors.
  • Quantum entanglement involves linking two objects, making them behave as one at a distance.
  • Keep reading Show less