Martha Bayles writes and lectures frequently about the arts, music, media, and public diplomacy. Her latest book, Through a Screen Darkly: Popular Culture, Public Diplomacy, and America’s Image Abroad (Yale 2014) was described by the Weekly Standard as "a brilliant and courageous meditation on the difficulty of communication between modern and traditional societies”; and by American Diplomacy as “the freshest and most original treatment of U.S. Public Diplomacy in many years.”
Bayles’s television column for the Wall Street Journal first established her as a significant critical voice. Her book, Hole Our Soul: The Loss of Beauty and Meaning in American Popular Music (Free Press 1994) was praised by jazz legend Sonny Rollins as “an illuminating look at where American culture is today, and how it got there.” Former literary editor of the Wilson Quarterly, Bayles has been a frequent contributor to the New York Times, Washington Post, Atlantic Monthly, New Republic, Chronicle of Higher Education, Newsweek, and many other publications. Today she writes regularly for the Boston Globe and the Weekly Standard. And since 2006 she has written the “Shadow Play” column on film and television for the Claremont Review of Books.
A native of Boston, Bayles has been a Visiting Scholar at the Getty Institute in Los Angeles, a Fulbright Lecturer in Poland, and arts correspondent for the PBS program, “Religion & Ethics Newsweekly.” After graduating from Harvard she taught public school in Philadelphia, Boston, and Cambridge, Massachusetts. Between 1997 and 2003 she was professor of humanities at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California. In 2003 she joined the faculty of the Boston College Arts & Sciences Honor Program, where she is now Visiting Associate Professor of the Practice of the Humanities. She lives in Newton, Massachusetts with her husband, Peter Skerry.