Assorted Links

  1. On Leaving Academe-An article in the Chronicle by a former professor of computer Science that details the variety of reasons he had for leaving his job at a university, including the devaluation of education, salary, publishing demands, specialization, mass education, etc.
  2. Is there such a thing as a national literature?-Scottish author Irvine Welsh talks about nationalism in an age where nation states as such are declining, with a particular focus on British and Scottish identity.
  3. India, the Olympic Games and “poor sports”-Mary Beard addresses the issue of India and the Olympics, including a number of Indians who are encouraging their compatriots to focus on “poor sports” that can help that country improve its medal haul.
  4. Journalists on the Edge of Truth-An excellent post by David Carr at the New York Times about the perils of journalism in the internet age, with an emphasis on the boundaries between journalism, plagiarism, and outright lies. It does, to an extent, come across as an elder statesman in the field bemoaning the lack of training and credentials of the “kids these days,” but the larger, systemic problems of twitter, blogs, page hits, etc (such that “you are only as visible as your last post”) are spot on. The world moves incredibly quickly, but, at least online, it also is much more highly mutable. For instance, I often go back to edit my writing on my blog when I reread it and there is a missed comma or a misspelled word (or something more egregious). I do this because it legitimately annoys me that I missed it in the first place, but, at the same time, I prefer to keep this more casual, so I tend to do only minimal edits before publishing it. That said, I am not sure I have yet deleted an entire post and usually try to own what I say, which makes this blog a more permanent record (though the options for mutability remain). Likewise, John Scalzi has made it clear that his blog is (more or less) a permanent record, so anyone who wants to comment there needs to be aware that short of violating his comments policy, there can be no take-backs.
  5. A Scholar, An Expert, An Intellectual-An essay by Timothy Burke about Niall Ferguson that discusses the ways in which Ferguson has disappointed the circle of educators and intellectuals by his comments, somewhat even before the comments he made about President Obama. On that particular instance, Burke focuses on the fact that Ferguson displayed a shocking lack of thought and awareness of his own position as an “expert.” Burke claims that “expert” required Ferguson to be able to “guide an audience through what is known and said about as subject with some respect for the totality of that knowing and saying before favoring your own interpretation.” I generally agree, and either Ferguson was negligent in this duty, or he knowingly exploited his position as “expert,” in which case he is more than negligent. Ferguson has been calling the backlash to his Newsweek story a witch-hunt. When it comes to backlash to the article, I cannot agree with him (based on his responses, he does not actually seem interested in a debate or feedback…as someone who writes for a media outlet in today’s society should expect), but with the people calling for his removal from Harvard, I agree. I think he crossed a line somewhere, but the calls stem from backlash over his ideological stance rather than his scholarship (perhaps a letter of censure–at most–is warranted). That said, Ferguson himself ought to think about his message and his position as an educator, scholar, and “public” intellectual and where he ought to go. Simply using a Harvard professorship as a bully-pulpit is inappropriate.
  6. The Myth of Ivy Advantage– an essay on the Inside Higher Ed that rejects the conventional wisdom that people who graduate from Ivy League schools with their doctorates have an overwhelming advantage on the job market. The author does not talk about teaching loads, but instead focuses on what she calls the “scarcity model of academia” wherein candidates from “lesser” universities spend graduate school scraping by and scrambling in a way that keeps them in tune with the “zeitgeist” of the present job market. The argument may be accurate, but it is small consolation.
  7. As always, comments encouraged. What else is out there?

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