Help Us Stay Paywall-Free

We rely on readers to keep our website open to all. Help sustain a public space for collective reasoning and imagination—make a tax-deductible donation today.

May/June 2016

What is Education for?

Danielle Allen leads a forum on public education. Deborah Meier, Clint Smith, Michel DeGraff, and Rob Reich respond. Plus, writing by John Ashbery, Josie Graham, Alex de Wall, and more.

May/June 2016

Public education should make citizens, not workers. So says Danielle Allen in our new forum—and she thinks that the focus on STEM can’t accomplish that goal, only the humanities can. Respondents include Deborah Meier, Clint Smith, Michel DeGraff, and Rob Reich. Alex de Waal, one of the nineties’ leading humanitarian reporters, has had a radical change of heart: almost all humanitiarian interventions go horribly wrong, he mourns, so maybe we’re doing more harm than good. Samuel Moyn worries we focus too much on rights and not enough on duties, and James G. Chappel proposes that our obsession with secularism has made religion more inscrutable—and out of control—than ever. Plus a celebration of 2016’s 92Y/”Discovery” Prize–winning poets, and new work from John Ashbery, Jorie Graham, and Brenda Hillman.


Editors’ Note

Deborah Chasman & Joshua Cohen


Forum: What is Education for?

Danielle Allen
Danielle Allen
Clint Smith
Rob Reich
Lucas Stanczyk
Jeffrey Aaron Snyder
Lelac Almagor
Debra Satz
Michel DeGraff
Deborah Meier
Carlos Fraenkel

Ideas & Fiction

Christopher Petrella

White supremacy and the birth of the modern Democratic Party.

Claude S. Fischer

Cities are now playgrounds for the rich, with the poor forced into suburbs.

Alex de Waal

The West likes morality plays with clear heroes and villains, in which we play the role of savior.

Shruti Swamy

I asked my husband to let the woman go.

Samuel Moyn

In the age of human rights, the language of duties has withered.

James G. Chappel

Secularism is fundamental to liberal governance. But is it sustainable?

John Crowley

Paul Park’s fantasy troubles the line between fiction and reality.

Ryan Fox, Carlie Hoffman, Gala Mukomolova, Miller Oberman

Selected work from this year’s winners.

Christopher Spaide

Terrance Hayes riffs on pop culture to explore black identity. 

Lisa K. Perdigao

Rae Armantrout draws on the language of physics to explore modern life.

Boston Review

New books to savor in the summer sun.

Alan A. Stone

Terrence Malick’s Knight of Cups is lost in its own symbolism.


Sh?z? Takiguchi
The ruby of my body glittered in my body, which didn’t die. The ruby felt a three-second chill. The perfect neck of a youthful Venus comforts me. . . .
Brenda Hillman

( )

The word saudades cannot easily be translated. Our mother & i translate Brazilian poetry, & when we come to the word saudades we hesitate. . . .
John Ashbery

Life with its sorrow, life with
     its tear.
And you know what that
the sky in a drawer . . .

Erika L. Sánchez
After the salt feast, I watched a bird peck at another bird who was already dead. . . .
Jorie Graham

In the market of ideas, of meat
     —in the teeth of need—you
     will never be happy with

your body—it is not the right
     body . . .

Ricardo Pau-Llosa

Of course they love, says my
     student. I slap
my dog sometimes when he
     comes to my bedside
just to see if . . .

Boston Review is nonprofit and reader funded.

We believe in the power of collective reasoning and imagination to create a more just world. That’s why we’re committed to keeping our website free and open to everyone, regardless of ability to pay. But we can’t do it without the financial support of our readers.

Help sustain a public space for collective reasoning and imagination, without ads or paywalls:

Become a supporting reader today.

Sign Up for Our

Vital reading on politics, literature, and more in your inbox. Sign up for our Weekly Newsletter, Monthly Roundup, and event notifications.

We can't publish without your support.

For nearly 50 years, Boston Review has been a home for collective reasoning and imagination on behalf of a more just world.

But our future is never guaranteed. As a small, independent nonprofit, we have no endowment or single funder. We rely on contributions from readers like you to sustain our work.

If you appreciate what we publish and want to help ensure a future for the great writing and constructive debate that appears in our pages, please make a tax-deductible donation today.

"An indispensable pillar of the public sphere."

That’s what sociologist Alondra Nelson says of Boston Review. Independent and nonprofit, we believe in the power of collective reasoning and imagination to create a more just world.

That’s why there are no paywalls on our website, but we can’t do it without the support of our readers. Please make a tax-deductible donation to help us create a more inclusive and egalitarian public sphere—open to everyone, regardless of ability to pay.