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« Jump in the bath | Main | Three brief reviews »

April 22, 2005



Related Question: Assuming the author of the article was involved in some way in literature (perhaps a large assumption), how is it possible to work closely with the most intimate creations of the minds of others, and emerge from the library a Monolithic Solipsist?


It was indeed a person of the literary persuasion. Sigh.


I am guilty of recounting "anonymous" situations. I would never dream of naming the professor who inflicted the worst "grad school trauma" on me, I think for good reasons. It's more about fleshing out my own feelings about the experience than putting blame on someone. Of course, I don't know if you were thinking of me here to begin with.


Yes, actually, I do know you were NOT thinking of me because of what you said at the beginning of your post. My ability to remember what I read five minutes ago is apalling sometimes. (I should add that I'm not so sure my experiences are ever representative of larger trends such that I could make any semi-accurate generalizations about academic culture from them.)

What do you think about people who have made their own marginalization a sort of jumping-off point for framing their scholarship? (For example, Jacqui Alexander and Chandra Mohanty's book?) This expecially seems to come out in Women's Studies as a kind of self-reflexivity to make one's stakes clear from the get go, as they always color how one thinks about one's work.


Not at all, Mano! (Like I said, this was a print essay, not something off a blog.) I'm not ranting about complaining per se, which I do all the time; I'm ranting about people who think that their complaints exhaust an entire universe's worth of experiences.

New Kid on the Hallway

Amen. It's like if I had one crappy experience with a psychiatrist and then walked around saying psychiatry is bunk and the entire profession needs to be reformed. Because the universe is all about ME, I tell you, ME.


You're wrong, NK. It's all about me! ME!

Erm, ahem. Yes. I've had trouble convincing some people that institution X or department Y is not the font of all evil because of one bad experience they or someone else has recounted. Especially when they're savaging people with whom I've worked over several years and they've only met for a matter of minutes. . . .

A. Cephalous

One day I'll write an excruciatingly long entry about the phenomenon known as "the small sample size" and how it's the bane of both literary scholars and their critics (not to mention baseball fans and meterologists who study tornadoes). Here's the short version:

There are two types of conclusions in the world: 1) the statistically valid and 2) the anecdote.

Critics of literary theorists, as well as any literary theorists who rely on Freud/Freudian/etc. and deconstructive models, always draw from anecdotes statistically invalid conclusions. Just because Ward Churchill is a louse does not mean that tenure ought to be abolished; similarly, just because one kid played the fort-da game does not mean that all children play a variation of it. (I could add: just because this word contains a pregnant ambiguity doesn't mean all words contain pregnant ambiguities...but Derrida hardly ever writes about ordinary language, so how would the deconstructivist know?)

In short, Miriam, "Amen, Sister, Amen."


There was once a minor scandal in my dept. b/c a colleague took a comment made by a visiting scholar (whom we were recruiting) and used it as a negative example to set up an argument about the academy at large in a very, very prominent place. Of course the visitng scholar was made anonymous (probably referred to as "a visiting scholar") but people in my dept. were furious, and the visiting scholar did not end up coming to our dept., though probably for different reasons. All of which is to say that these things have repercussions, which is one thing I think you meant to say as well.

Another Damned Medievalist

Glad I noticed that it was a print article -- you had me feeling all guilty about recounting the Interview From Hell!


You know, I bet that visiting scholar was Noam Chomsky and that he was upset by a recent review in Reason of the Frothing, Anti-Chomsky Reader.

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