Saturday, April 19, 2014

Theme: Academia

  • Despite not employing much of the jargon, Stephen Schryer is resolutely Marxist - and not New Left or post - Marxist either, but the old-style, “primacy of class,” bourgeoisie vs. proletariat kind. His excellent first book, Fantasies of the New Class: Ideologies of Professionalism in Post-World War II American Fiction, offers a critique of the so-called “new class” of professionals and intellectuals that grew rapidly after World War II (WWII), a group he considers to be mystified about its role and position in capitalist society.Read more
  • I've just finished a review of a recent monograph on a mediaeval Arabic scholar in which I noted a few translation and typographical errors, commended the philology involved, and gave a synopsis of the contents. So much, so unsurprising; this is the way my field works.Read more
  • I don’t know about the time of Marx’s original publications, but I’d like to believe that in the 1890s perhaps, 1920s, when there was a strong labor movement going on in the country, a lot of civil unrest, my sense of things is that it was possible to describe oneself as a Marxist, to use Marxist ideas, to appropriate Marxist categories and language, to use the ideas of socialism in a fairly overt and mainstream way for the purpose of social organization.Read more
  • The poet most likely to practice and evoke ethical imagination is not "poetical," in the sense of flamboyant or opinionated. Thinking of Shakespeare, Keats, who was Shelley's contemporary, claimed that the most powerful versifier "has no identity" at all, for "he is continually ... filling some other body." He inhabits shade as much as light, Iago as much as Imogen.Read more
  • An academic career has a peculiar arc to it. When one is young, and first begins travelling around to various cities for conferences, it is as if one is Axl Rose or something, on tour, in hotels, where ordinary morality does not apply. One feels larger than life, and worthy of a biography or two.Read more
  • With major governments signalling a shift to Open Access it seems like a good time to be asking which organisations in the scholarly communications space will survive the transition. It is likely that the major current publishers will survive, although relative market share and focus is likely to change. Read more
  • We all understand why free online music sharing is controversial. Musicians make a living by selling their work, and widespread unauthorized sharing could slash their revenue. File sharers respond with evidence that obscurity is more costly than piracy, for those below the rank of superstar, and that unauthorized online sharing can actually boost sales. But instead of entering that debate here, let’s just note its existence and take a detour around it.Read more
  • Writing strategy textbooks often move us quickly through the rhetorical modes before introducing argument, where we are invited to pick a topic of interest, something we’re passionate about, but then are asked to write a research paper, as opposed to a personal essay, presumably to distinguish between mere opinion and rigorous discourse, where claims are backed by reasoned evidence and assumptions are explained.Read more
  • It’s no secret that times are tough for scholars in the humanities. Jobs are scarce, resources are stretched, and institutions of tertiary education are facing untold challenges. Those of us fortunate enough to hold tenured positions at financially stable colleges and universities may be the last faculty to enjoy such comparative privilege.Read more
  • I think it was a mistake of academic literary criticism to allow the term “reading” to elide the distinction between the ordinary activity by which John, Jane, Suzy, and Timmy Smith read texts and the specialized activity of creating written explications of texts. The effect of such elision is to enable the belief that the two processes are basically the same, but that what the professional critic is doing is deeper and more rigorous than what John, Jane, Suzy and Timmy are doing and the Smiths really ought to tighten up their act.Read more
  • Is the time spent reviewing other people's books more important than writing your own stuff, making your own contributions? One of my graduate-student friends has published a number of book reviews, the assignments often passed along by his adviser and other professors.Read more
  • A recent piece by Scott Jaschik in “Inside Higher Education” pointed out what a number of my colleagues have been thinking for a while now: the peer review system for scholarly journals doesn’t work very well, needs to be reformed, and really ought to take radical advantage of new technologies. Read more
  • Dear Applicant: We have received your application for a Fellowship for 2012. However, due to a temporary glitch in our reporting software, multiple versions of your Statement of Plans have been saved and reported.Read more
  • Of course, not everything written on the current state of the classics is irredeemably gloomy. Some breezy optimists point, for example, to a new interest among the public in the ancient world. Witness the success of movies like Gladiator or Stacy Schiff’s biography of Cleopatra.Read more
  • In many parts of Madagascar they have this idea that dead kings continue to exist and possess people and retain all their authority. As a result, as Gillian Feeley-Harnik wrote, the Sakalava on the West Coast, could insist that the ultimate authorities in the colonial period were these old women, normally of slave descent, who were entranced and possessed by dead kings. How on earth were the colonialists supposed to negotiate with that?Read more
  • When I was young I wanted to write a challenging book of ideas. I had in mind the kind of “deep” book that public intellectuals of the 1950s and ’60s wrote: The Lonely Crowd, The One-Dimensional Man, The End of Ideology. Read more
  • What aspects of the human condition do we risk sacrificing or distorting should we allow humanistic study to flounder in the face of the imperatives of globalization: the ever-expanding quest for the accumulation of wealth and technical expertise?Read more
  • “Drug Makers Cut Out Goodies for Doctors” and “Drugmakers Pulling Plug on Free Pens, Mugs & Pads” read headlines in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal Health Blog at the end of 2008.Read more
  • When Stanford visiting scholar Li Cong thinks back to her recent stint surveying villagers in the Anhui province of China, one interviewee in particular springs to mind. Read more
  • It’s not often that you find something that’s a fallacy both logically and creatively — that is, a fallacy to which both researchers and artists are susceptible.Read more
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