University Of Chicago

Rolling the dice in Libya

My latest op-ed, “Rolling the dice in Libya,” appeared today on Antiwar.com. You can find the op-ed here as well as pasted below. If you enjoy it, please consider sharing it on your Facebook wall, mentioning it on Twitter, or emailing it to a friend. Thanks, as always, for reading. — Rolling the dice in Libya Ryan McCarl President Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination in 2008 partly by reminding the party’s base of his early, prescient criticisms of the ill-fated decision to invade Iraq.

Empathy across neighborhood lines

My latest op-ed, “Love Thy Neighbor: In the wake of an attack on the Men’s Cross Country team, it’s time to rethink University-community relations,” appeared in the Chicago Weekly today. You can find the op-ed and add your comments here, and I’ve also pasted it below. Thanks, as always, for reading. —Love Thy Neighbor: In the wake of an attack on the Men’s Cross Country team, it’s time to rethink University-community relations

Readings from the stories of John Cheever

It was after four then, and I lay in the dark, listening to the rain and to the morning trains coming through. They come from Buffalo and Chicago and the Far West, through Albany and down along the river in the early morning, and at one time or another I’ve traveled on most of them, and I lay in the dark thinking about the polar air in the Pullman cars and the smell of nightclothes and the taste of dining-car water and the way it feels to end a day in Cleveland or Chicago and begin another in New York, particularly after you’ve been away for a couple of years, and particularly in the summer.

Interview with the University of Chicago Magazine

The case for Facebook and social networking

Even though Facebook currently has over 200 million active users, many people continue to doubt the value of social networking in general and Facebook in particular. Critics argue that Facebook and other social networking and Web 2.0 tools - including blogs and Twitter - are symptomatic of the “solipsism” (meaning, in this context, the self-absorption of users) of the contemporary Internet. Indeed, Facebook can be an enormous time-waster and procrastination tool, as can any medium or Internet resource.

Wendy Doniger's 'The Hindus: An Alternative History'

I recently picked up Wendy Doniger’s new book The Hindus: An Alternative History. Doniger, the Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of Religions at the University of Chicago Divinity School and America’s foremost scholar of Hinduism, set out to challenge many prevailing notions of Hinduism and argue for a more inclusive, broad view of the tradition, a view that recognizes the diversity of folk religions in the Hindu world as well as the contributions of women, Muslims, and people of the lower castes to the Hindu tradition.

Mark C. Taylor on 'reforming higher education'

Mark C. Taylor, contrarian philosopher and chair of Columbia University’s Department of Religion, caused a firestorm in the academic community with his op-ed, “End the University as We Know It,” in yesterday’s New York Times. The op-ed remains at the top of the NYT’s most-emailed list. There are few better places to have a debate about the philosophy of education than the University of Chicago, where the Core Curriculum and the school’s historical emphasis on liberal education and distaste for vocational education permeates everything.

The Nuclear Peace and its Consequences for China's Rise

I just put the finishing touches on my M.A. thesis, bringing one of the most stressful months of my life to a satisfying close. 10,181 words, 45 pages, three entirely different drafts, and an ungodly amount of writing and revision. I am happy with the finished product and will turn it in tomorrow morning, then post a link to it online. My faculty advisor was John Mearsheimer, the best professor I’ve had at the U of C and one of the most influential international relations scholars in America.

Personal update: spring quarter

This is turning out to be one of the busiest times of my life, so I won’t be posting very much over the next nine weeks. For one thing, my coursework is forcing me to put most of my personal reading list on the back-burner, so I’ll have fewer excerpts to share. Despite the academic stress, however, things are better than ever. My classes are awesome – a Ph.D.-level seminar in Japanese literature of the 1920s and 30s taught from a Marxist perspective (the first time I’ve really had to grapple with critical theory), the third quarter of elementary Norwegian (which I’m taking in the hope of traveling to Norway and studying Knut Hamsun and other Norwegian writers in the original language), the third quarter of fourth-year modern Japanese (which amounts to taking a course with a top-notch private tutor, as there are only three of us in the class), and Jean-Bethke Elshtain’s course on the Just War tradition – a Divinity School course offering a perspective on war and peace that is completely different from the realist perspective of the political science department that I’m used to hearing.

Pics from the UW-Oshkosh dual track meet