Thursday, July 26, 2007

Thinning a Library

This Inside Higher Ed piece about a professor chucking most of his books is interesting, in part because it frequently mentions how digital editions and Google Books have made material books less necessary, for reference purposes anyway. (The pleasure-angle of being surrounded by books is largely absent.) All this thinking about the usefulness (or not) of books brings the professor to a rather depressing conclusion about The Academic Monograph:

“The exercise,” he wrote, “has confirmed concretely what had hitherto been an abstract conviction: it’s a rare monograph that’s actually worth a book. You can digest the idea, pick out a few key pieces of evidence, decide whether or not it really changes your mind about an overall interpretation, and then you’re really, sadly, done with it. Scarcely ever will you revisit it — scarcely ever will it repay you to revisit it, except to check a citation maybe — unlike a good essay or synthesis, which you can always come back to for insights.”

The "good essay" point does seem to say something for the much-maligned critical anthology, however.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Bauerlein on dissertation research

Mark Bauerlein on dissertation research and "self-branding": here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Anthologies and Intellectual Property

I'm interested in a brief story from today's NY Times that revolves around the question of whether creating a poetry anthology creates a kind of intellectual property:

The case pits Stuart Y. Silverstein, a Los Angeles lawyer who researched and assembled 122 previously uncollected poems and verses in the book “Not Much Fun: The Lost Poems of Dorothy Parker,” against Penguin Putnam, which published “Dorothy Parker, Complete Poems,” and used Mr. Silverstein’s book as a source for the last chapter without giving him any credit or paying him any royalties.

The issue in question is whether Mr. Silverstein is entitled to what is known as “compilation copyright” protection for his selection of Parker’s work.

The full story is here
(registration required). I think there's a cautionary tale here for those who work in archives and have in interest in producing anthologies, editions, etc., out of the materials they find.

PhD Completion Study

Inside Higher Ed reports that the Council of Graduate Schools is working on a research project about why and when PhD Students finish. The preliminary results cited in this article are interesting.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

PhDinHistory blog

Have you been following the PhDinHistory story? Short version: PhDinHistory was a terrific blog by an anonymous graduate student that included detailed, quantitative analysis of gender disparities within the field of history. (There were other interesting things as well.) Then the author pulled the blog when he feared being disclosed. Now the blog is back, with identification. It's here, with a post on why anonymous blogging might not work. When the blog was pulled initially, Dan Cohen wrote an interesting article on anonymity and blogging. It's here.

As a complete aside, even though there seem to be more English bloggers out there, I think the historians are better at it.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Facebook and libraries

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Bauerlein at

Mark Bauerlein has a column at today.

The real point of the article is about the content of curriculum. However, it touches on a critical issue: When he and I were graduate students, the anthology of theory and criticism played a crucial role in the profession and especially in graduate student education; such anthologies were yardsticks of their respective fields, particularly new fields of literary studies. (Mark gives some good examples from his graduate career; examples from my own time as a graduate student: the 1992 anthology Cultural Studies; a 1993 volume called Cultures of United States Imperialism; the 1995 Post-Colonial Studies Reader.)

Mark's argument is that these anthologies are politically weighted, so much so that they have significant blind-spots in surveying the terrain of contemporary thought. However, I also wonder about a different question: Does the critical anthology really have the same kind of institutional role that it once did? Are anthologies like these still pivotal in the profession -- in the careers of graduate students?