The Baffler

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The Baffler
EditorJonathon Sturgeon
First issue1988 (1988)
CompanyThe Baffler Foundation
CountryUnited States
Based in
LanguageEnglish Edit this at Wikidata

The Baffler is an American magazine of cultural, political, and business analysis. Established in 1988 by editors Thomas Frank and Keith White, it was headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, until 2010, when it moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 2016, it moved its headquarters to New York City. The first incarnation of The Baffler had up to 12,000 subscribers.[3]

As of 2016, the magazine and its collections of essays are distributed through bookstores in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.


The magazine was first published by Greg Lane.[citation needed] Its motto was "the journal that blunts the cutting edge."[4] It became known for critiquing "business culture and the culture business"[5] and for having exposed the grunge speak hoax perpetrated on The New York Times.[6] One famous and much-republished article, "The Problem with Music" by Steve Albini, exposed the inner workings of the music business during the indie rock heyday.[7]

The magazine is credited with having helped launch the careers of several writers, including founding editor Thomas Frank, Ana Marie Cox, and Rick Perlstein.[4]


The magazine published sporadically, first once a year then slightly more often, but that slowed down after the Chicago office of The Baffler was destroyed in a fire on April 25, 2001.[8] Publishing became more regular and frequent after its relaunch and move to Cambridge in 2011. Timeline of publication:[9]

Year # Year # Year # Year #
1988 1 1996 8 2010 18 2017 34–37
1990 2 1997 9–11 2012 19–21 2018 38–42
1991 3 1999 12–13 2013 22–23 2019 43–48
1992 4 2001 14 2014 24–26 2020 49–54
1993 5 2003 15–16 2015 27–29 2021 55–60
1995 6–7 2006 17 2016 30–33
Peter Thiel and David Graeber debate at the "No Future for You" event hosted by The Baffler, NYC, 2014

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.

Relaunch and move[edit]

In 2009, founding editor Thomas Frank decided to revive the magazine.[10] It was relaunched with Volume 2, Issue 1 (#18) in 2010, with a new publisher, editors, and design.

In 2011, The Baffler moved its headquarters to Cambridge, and John Summers took over as editor. The magazine signed a publishing contract with the MIT Press, and after another redesign, began publishing three times a year.[11] In 2014, it ended that contract and brought publishing operations in house.[12] In 2016, the magazine changed to a quarterly schedule and moved its headquarters to New York City.[2] Summers left in 2016 and Chris Lehmann took over the editorship of the journal. In 2019, Lehmann departed for The New Republic, and Jonathon Sturgeon became editor in chief.[13]

The Baffler has also organized literary events and debates with its contributing editors. In 2014, Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal, and David Graeber, an anarchistic anthropologist and The Baffler's contributing editor, publicly debated the future of technology.[14]

In 2017, The Baffler and CTXT, a Spanish independent online publication, began a collaborative editorial agreement.[15]

Collections and books[edit]

In addition to the magazine, The Baffler has published a few collections of its essays and other writings.

  • Commodify Your Dissent: Salvos from The Baffler. Edited by Thomas Frank and Matt Weiland. Norton, 1997. ISBN 0-393-31673-4
  • Boob Jubilee: The Cultural Politics of the New Economy (Salvos from The Baffler). Edited by Thomas Frank and David Mulcahey. Norton, 2003. ISBN 0-393-32430-3
  • Cotton Tenants: Three Families. Edited by John Summers. Melville House, 2012. Excerpts from a lost manuscript on Alabama tenant farmers by the writer James Agee. ISBN 978-1612192123
  • No Future For You: Salvos from The Baffler. Edited by John Summers, Chris Lehmann and Thomas Frank. MIT Press, 2014. ISBN 978-0-262-02833-2[a]


The Baffler has previously hosted the podcasts Whale Vomit, by Amber A'Lee Frost and Sam Kriss; News from Nowhere, by Corey Pein; and The Nostalgia Trap, by David Parsons.[16]


  1. ^ A French translation was published as Le Pire des Mondes Possibles by Editions Agone in 2015.


  1. ^ @maximillian_alv (30 November 2017). "We're going bi-monthly at..." (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  2. ^ a b The Baffler (June 2016). "About". Retrieved June 21, 2016.
  3. ^ Peter Monaghan (October 26, 2011). "'The Baffler' Will Reappear via MIT Press". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2014-07-30.
  4. ^ a b Jennifer Schuessler (July 21, 2014). "The Baffler Puts Its Archive Online". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-07-30.
  5. ^ Elizabeth Taylor (January 11, 1998). "Mixing Business with Culture". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2014-07-30.
  6. ^ Leon Nefaykh (August 14, 2009). "Remember the Grunge Hoax?". New York Observer. Retrieved 2014-07-30.
  7. ^ Albini, Steve (1993), "The Problem with Music", The Baffler, Chicago: Thomas Frank, vol. 5, no. 5, pp. 31–38, doi:10.1162/bflr.1993.5.31, 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.)
  8. ^ Ron Charles (July 21, 2014). "A Quarter Century of The Baffler". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-07-30.
  9. ^ Timeline checked with BookFinder plus WorldCat, consolidated with various sources, including DustyGroove, BookMaps, LibraryThing.
  10. ^ Leon Nefaykh (June 24, 2009). "Color Me Baffled! Thomas Frank's Magazine Lives Again". New York Observer. p. 10. Retrieved 2014-07-30.
  11. ^ Peter Monaghan (October 26, 2011). "'The Baffler' Will Reappear via MIT Press". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2014-07-30.
  12. ^ Peter Monaghan (October 28, 2014). "MIT Press and a Rebellious Journal Will Part Ways". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2014-10-30.
  13. ^ "Predicting the Winner of the Fiction Pulitzer; The Baffler Names Its New Editor". Bookforum. April 15, 2019. Retrieved 2019-04-23.
  14. ^ Schuessler, Jennifer (2014-09-21). "Still No Flying Cars? Debating Technology's Future". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-07-01.
  15. ^ "CTXT firma un acuerdo editorial con la revista 'The Baffler'".
  16. ^ "Bafflercasts". The Baffler. Retrieved 2019-04-23.

External links[edit]