The Critics List
Anthony Grafton, Elizabeth Wurtzel, Judith Miller, and Daphne Merkin Join Adam Kirsch, Joshua Cohen, and More
We are happy to welcome our readers to Tablet’s new Arts and Culture section, in the hopes that you will be surprised and delighted as well as unsettled and pissed-off by the many changes that we have in store, starting now. Please bear with us while we re-plaster the ceilings, move the furniture around, and fiddle with the color of the paint on the walls. We apologize in advance for any valuable objects that get broken and to everyone who liked things exactly as they were before.
Some familiar features of Arts and Culture will be appearing in new guises, and others won’t. New critics will grace our section. Our goal is to frame what’s happening in literature, film, television, theater, painting, and other arts in a way that would make for a lively discussion at a good dinner party where the guests actually know what they are talking about. Instead of reviews of single books or films—aside from those unique and important enough to deserve it—we are encouraging our critics to write longer, more in-depth essays in which their skills, insights, and knowledge can shine.
Adam Kirsch, the author of Benjamin Disraeli, a biography in the Nextbook Press Jewish Encounters book series, will continue as Tablet’s main literary critic, writing one longer essay a month about contemporary Jewish literature and culture. He will also write a series of essays once a month over the next year that will look at postwar Jewish identity in America as a fictional construct created by great writers like Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, and Cynthia Ozick.
Liel Leibovitz will write a weekly column called “The Arbiter” that will look at some of the touchstones of Jewish culture high and low, from Erica Jong to the Beastie Boys’ first album, and tell us whether they are actually any good.
The novelist and critic Joshua Cohen, a regular contributor to Harper’s and a contributing editor at Tablet, will write a monthly first-person essay about his adventures in Jewish culture.
Josh Lambert will write for us about obscenity and Jewish culture, making us the only publication in America with an obscenity critic. His weekly new books column will no longer appear.
We would like to welcome the following critics and writers whose work will be appearing regularly in Tablet:
Daphne Merkin—the author of Mrs. Freud, forthcoming from Nextbook Press—will be our film critic and Elizabeth Wurtzel will be our pop music critic, having each formerly served in those capacities for The New Yorker.
Judith Miller, the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and daughter of the impresario Bill Miller, will be our theater critic.
Anthony T. Grafton, the Princeton historian and president of the American Historical Association, and a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books, will be our museum critic.
Donald Rosenfeld, executive producer of The Tree of Life, which won the 2011 Palme d’Or at Cannes, will be our occasional Hollywood correspondent.
Alana Newhouse, editor-in-chief of Tablet, will be our television critic.
David P. Goldman, author of the “Spengler” column in the Asia Times, will be our classical music critic.
Robin Cembalest, the executive editor of Art News, will be our gallerist, responsible for reviewing exhibitions of contemporary art.
Maya Benton, a curator at the International Center of Photography in New York, will be our photography critic.
Vardit Gross will cover the Israeli art scene from Tel Aviv.
Jeffrey Shandler, professor Jewish studies at Rutgers University and author of (among others) Jews, God, and Videotape: Religion and Media in America, will write a regular series of essays and observations about Jewish material culture.
David Meir Grossman will be our roving critic, writing regular short articles from the perspective of a smart, obnoxious 24-year old Jewish kid who just moved to Brooklyn.
There will be more exciting news to come in the following weeks and months. In the meantime, welcome home.
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WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at email@example.com. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.
We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.