June 18, 2019

The Website Everyone Loves to Hate-Read

“he portrait of university life offered by the online journal Quillette is not a flattering one. Free speech stifled at every turn. Scholars with divergent views relentlessly mobbed. Entire disciplines ruined by left-wing activism. A leafy dystopia populated by irrationally furious undergraduates, pathetically craven administrators, and professors who peddle mindless ideology at the expense of scientific inquiry. It’s enough to make anyone question the mental health of the academy, if not run screaming through the quad.

That vision seems to resonate with a sizable readership. Quillette attracts more eyeballs than plenty of venerable publications with lengthier histories (according to the analytics service Alexa, the site gets more page views than Washington Monthly, Commentary, or Harper’s). It’s been praised by the likes of Sam Harris, Cass Sunstein, and Christina Hoff Sommers, who celebrated it as “an island of sanity in a sea of madness.”

Founded in 2015 by Claire Lehmann, an Australian writer and former graduate student in psychology, Quillette initially maintained a more straightforwardly scientific focus but later morphed into a vehicle for a distinctive brand of cultural critique. Its three most popular articles as of this writing are a story on a scholar drummed out of the University of Cambridge for writing about race and IQ, a think piece on the decline of elites, and an essay headlined “How Anti-Humanism Conquered the Left.””

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