Wednesday, January 04, 2006

I'm a good little disserter, I am

In my field, dissertations cannot criticize more established figures. We can indicate that we, with the utmost respect and deference, disagree with senior historians, but we may not criticize.

This is why I have a blog.

I'll call this historian Ed. Ed has written several books and is a huge name in the field. Many years ago I wrote to him for help on a research paper and recieved a very kind and informative type-written letter back. Thus I am predisposed to like Ed.

Ed is the only scholar ever to have examined my topic to any degree. He doesn't do much, and what he does is, to put it kindly, dated. Given that he wrote the book a great many years ago, I'm inclined to forgive him for that. The book won a great many prizes, and deservedly so.

He made lots of mistakes!!!

There, I've said it. It's a fine book and one that I've even suggested to people over the years. The mistakes I've found do not change that. They're such small details that only someone doing intimate dissection of the same group of people would notice, and it took me several years. Ed doesn't deserve to have any of his prizes recalled... but I'm finding more and more of them. I suspect that he took some notes incorrectly and the errors then made it into the manuscript and hence into my hands, but if you know where to look, they're not hard to find. Ed is a stupid git!

Thanks. I feel better now.

Words Written: spent yesterday at the library, getting more books
Lessons Graded: classes start soon!

7 comments:

labbai said...

Have you read James Joyce's Odyssus? I did. Now I got to do it again... Anyway..Year 2005 book to read to me was Carlos Ruiz Zafòn and La Sombra del Viento. Shadow of the wind...Tuulen varjo in finnish. So good... I usually never cry, but this book just...don't know the words, but I cried.

John B. said...

In my field, dissertations cannot criticize more established figures. We can indicate that we, with the utmost respect and deference, disagree with senior historians, but we may not criticize.


If the historian is wrong, or his or her information is dated, why aren't you able to just come out and say so (in a respectful way). Why te need by academics to dance around?

This is just like tenure and such...it seems to me on the surface to smack of a 'protect the establishment' ideal.

Maybe I am off base, but that is how I have always perceived this to be, at least in the history departments...and I have a BA in history, ran into this many times as an undergrad.

Don said...

Ed is a stupid git!

I knew it!

torporific said...

Ed is a stupid git!

I have heard that his wife agrees!

Rob said...

I think you've reached a triumphant point in your career. You can analyze the work of a known scholar in the field and be confident enough in your own abilities to know that even the "famous" academics are fallible. You're becoming a known scholar yourself, therefore!

Hurrah!

Moulton said...

A few years ago, a lot of people were reading Women Who Run With Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

Perhaps the most quoted passage in her book is the Ten Wolf Rules for Life.

The Sixth Wolf Rule for Life is:

6. Cavil in Moonlight.

If you look up the word 'cavil', you find that it's a legal term meaning to quibble over a minor detail.

This may be a minor detail, and I hate to quibble over it, but I think Ms Estes meant to say 'Cavort in Moonlight'.

lemming said...

John - there are two kinds of tenured history professor. At state schools and large universities, tenure has little (not nothing, just less than I think it should) to do with teaching and much more to do with publishing. There are some tenured faculty at universities who have managed to achieve both publishing and good teaching (may my advisor live forever) but the system is skewed toward publishing.

At smaller private schools, tenure is awarded for good teaching and a bit of publishing. Just guess where I wantt o teach when I am Dr. Lemming...

I like the idea of caviling over moonlight.