R. Jay Magill, Jr., is a writer and illustrator whose work has appeared in The American Prospect, The American Interest, The Atlantic Monthly, The Believer, Boston Globe, Deutschland Radio, Foreign Policy, Los Angeles Review of Books, New York Times, Print, NPR, Spiegel Online, Tagesspiegel, the Wall Street Journal, and Weltkunst. He is author of two books of intellectual and cultural history: Chic Ironic Bitterness (2007) and Sincerity: How A Moral Ideal Born Five Hundred Years Ago Inspired Religious Wars, Modern Art, Hipster Chic, and the Curious Notion that We All Have Something to Say (No Matter How Dull) (2012), a New York Times Editors’ Choice and a Wall Street Journal Top-Ten Nonfiction Book of 2012.
Magill holds a PhD in American studies from the University of Hamburg, an MA in art history and philosophy from Stony Brook University, and a BFA/BA in painting, drawing, and philosophy from Kutztown University. He has taught at the University of Lüneburg and at Harvard University, where he received a 2001 Derek Bok Award for Distinction in Teaching. A Philadelphia native, Magill lives with his wife and son in Berlin, Germany, where he is the editor of the Berlin Journal at the American Academy in Berlin.
American Purpose’s Emma Cordover connected with AP contributing editor and illustrator R. Jay Magill, Jr., to learn more about his intellectual and artistic background.