The Baffler

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The Baffler
Editor John Summers
Frequency Triannual
Founder Thomas Frank and Keith White
First issue  1988 (1988-month)
Company MIT Press
Country United States
Language English
The Baffler at MIT Press
ISSN 1059-9789

The Baffler is a magazine of cultural, political, and business criticism that was founded in 1988 and published until the spring of 2007. It was revived in 2009,[1] with the first issue of Volume 2 published in January 2010. The magazine was headquartered in Chicago, Illinois and sold at bookstores across the U.S., Canada, and the UK.

Founded in 1988 by editors Thomas Frank and Keith White, published by Greg Lane, it had subscribers all over the world. The Associate Publisher was Emily Vogt. Editors included Matt Weiland, Dave Mulcahey, Solveig Nelson, Jennifer Moxley, George Hodak, Jim McNeill, Damon Krukowski, Kim Philips-Fein, Tom Vanderbilt, Chris Lehmann, Angela Sorby, Tom Frank. It was known for critiquing "business culture and the culture business" and for having exposed the grunge speak hoax perpetrated on the New York Times. One famous and much-republished article, "The Problem with Music"[2] by Steve Albini, exposed the inner-workings of the music business during the indie rock heyday. A self-described goal of the journal was to "blunt the cutting edge". Its models were the satire and cultural criticism of H.L. Mencken and the progressive journalism of Randolph Bourne.

In October 2011, the new editor, John Summers, signed a 5-year publishing contract with the MIT Press.[3]


The magazine published sporadically (see Timeline), especially after the Chicago office of the Baffler was destroyed in a fire on April 25, 2001. (Baffler 14 was in press at the time, and only three new issues were subsequently published.)

Timeline of The Baffler magazine:[4] #1 (1988), #2 (1990), #3 (1991), #4 (1992), #5 (1993), #6–7 (1995), #8 (1996), #9–11 (1997), #12–13 (1999), #14 (2001), #15–16 (2003), #17 (2006).

The magazine was relaunched in 2010, under a new publisher and new editors, and with a new design, with Volume 2, Number 1 published in Winter, 2010. They announced in March, 2011 that Volume 2, Number 2 will be printed later in 2011.

Contributing writers and artists have included: Thomas Frank, Christian Parenti, Thasnai Sethaseree, Jeff Sharlet, Thomas Geoghegan, Damon Krukowski, Paul Maliszewski, David Mulcahey, Robert Nedelkoff, Dan Raeburn, Andrew O'Hagan, Jim Arndorfer, Kim Phillips-Fein, Steve Evans, Jim McNeill, Matt Weiland, Catherine Liu, Martin Riker, Whitney Terrell, Geoffrey Young, Joshua Schuster, Jena Osman, Paul Maliszewski, Jamie Kalven, Nick Cohen, Dubravka Ugresic, Kenneth Neil Cukier, Steve Featherstone, Kevin Mattson, Ana Marie Cox, Jim Arndorfer, Laurie Weeks, Bernadette Mayer, Andrea Brady, Juliana Spahr, Ian Urbina, Chris Toensing, Nelson Smith, Terri Kapsalis, Sharon O'Dair, J.D. Connor, Andrew Friedman, Martha Bayne, Eric Klineberg, Chris Lehmann, Mike Newirth, Mike O'Flaherty, Mahmoud Darwish, Eileen Myles, David Perry, Benjamin Friedlander, Chris Stroffolino, Daniel Bouchard, Clive Thompson, Michael Martone, Earl Shorris, Minou Roufail, Joshua Glenn, John R. MacArthur, Martha Bridegam, Leon Forrest, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Mike Newirth, Karen Olsson, Christopher Sorrentino, Sandy Zipp, Matt Roth, Mark McMorris, Elizabeth Willis, Lee Ann Brown, Michael Gizzi, David Hess, Rebecca Bohrman, Christian Viveros-Faune, Pierre Bourdieu, Loic Wacquant, Stephen Duncombe, Brishen Rogers, Bryant Urstadt, Noah Berlatsky, Lydia Millet, Jay Rosen, Johnny Payne, Thomas Beer, Pam Brown, Dale Smith, Joshua Clover, Keith White, Jesse Eisinger, Paul Lukas, Bill Boisvert, Joanna Coles, Jennifer Gonnerman, Charles Bernstein, Maura Mahoney, Tom Vanderbilt, David Berman, Jamie Callan, James Kelman, Charles Simic, Rod Smith, Margaret Young, David Trinidad, Steve Healey, Joe Fodor, Jennifer Moxley, Dan Kelly, and more.

Contributing artists have included: Patrick W. Welch, Hunter Kennedy, Brian Chippendale, Keith Herzik, Amy Abshier-Reyes, Ada Rima Grybauskas, Emily Flake, Leif Goldberg, Mark Dancy, Russell Chrstian, Matt Brinkman, Lisa Haney, Le Mule, Jay Ryan, Don MacKeen, Clay Butler, Robin Hunicke, and more.

The Baffler is sold through many different distribution channels, both as a book and as a magazine; in addition to the publication's ISSN, all but the earliest issues have an individual ISBN, such as: #9 (ISBN 1-888984-30-9), etc.

On June 23, 2009 the New York Observer reported that founding editor Thomas Frank decided to revive the magazine. According to the Observer, the Baffler will be released on a regular, bi-annual basis.

In April 2014, The Baffler's editor-in-chief, John Summers, personally challenged forums posters at tHE r H i z z o n E[5] to criticize the most recent issue at the time, #24. Despite several scathing but accurate essays, Summers has so far ignored the outcome of the contest, silently refusing to award the first prize to George W Bush as requested by the contest winner.



  1. ^ Leon Nefaykh Color Me Baffled! Thomas Frank's Magazine Lives Again. page 10. June 29 – July 6, 2009. The Observer (New York)
  2. ^ Albini, Steve (1993), "The Problem with Music", The Baffler (Chicago: Thomas Frank) (5), ISSN 1059-9789, OCLC 24838556, archived from the original on 2007-09-28 , also archived from the dead Baffler site. (Reprinted in Maximum RocknRoll #133 (June 1994) and later various websites.)
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ Timeline checked with BookFinder plus WorldCat, consolidated with various sources, including DustyGroove, BookMaps, LibraryThing.
  5. ^

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