Short essays

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Columnist at 3 Quarks Daily

Every 8th Monday: October 29, December 24, February 18…

A series “On Not Knowing,” concerning dilletantism, Moby Dick, Twitter, pokiness, denial, Joy Williams’ Ninety-Nine Stories of God, and other matters.

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A Brief Introduction to Credulity

The Revealer, September 10, 2018

An excerpt of Credulity: A Cultural History of US Mesmerism (Chicago, 2018) with a short introduction


He Blinded Me with Science

Lapham's Quarterly Online, August 29, 2018

Three presidents take the fight to mesmerism's founder. They lose.

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Donald Trump, Mesmerist

New York Times op-ed, Sunday Review, August 5, 2018

Why doesn't debunking work? An answer from 19th-century stage hypnotism


'Tis he! The ass foretold me in my dream!

Lapham's Quarterly Online, July 19, 2018

A mock epic of the warring literati

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Don't go back to Princeton

Review of Joyce Carol Oates's The Accursed, Public Books, October 22, 2013

Occult historical fiction and a cursed town in New Jersey