Friday, May 16, 2014

End of the Semester in Links

NYU's new broad and vague social media policy was unveiled on the same day as a Chronicle of Higher Ed. article about how the president of the university is increasing his social media presence in order to be more "relatable." I have an awful lot of opinions about the policy and about the unfortunate media-attention coincidence, and I'm really struggling with how much it is prudent and, crucially, permissible for me to say. I don't want to behave like a coward but I also don't want to risk my job.

NYU's New Electronic Communications Policy

#JSex is Ready to Cuddle

That said, there are aspects of the academic Twittersphere that I am, similarly, unhappy with right now, but I started to write a bit of a blurb here and it was becoming full-on, standalone post length, so I'll save that for another moment. Ultimately, though, it's not up to universities to regulate the ways in which scholars use social media; rather, these are conversations we should be free to have amongst ourselves.


Abandoned manuscript libraries in Mauritania:

... and abandoned bookstores in New York City:

The Lost Booksellers of New York

Some collections try to make it impossible for the books to disappear:

Reading in Restraint: The Last of the Chained Libraries

... while others actively dump their books:

Colby College Sacks the Stacks

A Library Without Books?


This is a little too vague to really be compelling, but it raises an interesting issue:

On Not Normalizing Anti-Semitism in Medieval Studies

In further news of biases in academic work: I cannot fathom being a heritage student in a class taught by someone who could write in such an essentializing way about "Hispanics." Fancy a university telling her that she might not be effective in teaching said heritage students (and I don't think its about authority as a non-native speaker). Nor can I imagine that being a heritage student whose professor thinks she is, by virtue of her heritage, lazy with flashes of occasional brilliance would be much better than being a non-heritage student whose professor thinks she is, by virtue of her different heritage, a bit dim but a hard worker. This is a blogger who is periodically super offensive about Jewish people (claiming it's okay because she's "ethnically" Jewish) and who shamelessly bullies people who disagree with her. I should just stop reading but I keep at it because it's like a train wreck with a Yale PhD. Just can't look away.


Slate published a series of maps this week on language distribution in the US:

I was a little surprised by a few aspects, including the claim that Tagalog was the widest-spread Asian language spoken in California, but I figured that the Bay Area, where Chinese dialects are prevalent, just must not be representative of the state as a whole. But, in fact, there were some errors an Asian-American think tank presented some correctives (with a lovely nod to Slate's recent odd genre of "you're doing it wrong" pieces):

And just for good measure, here is a time-lapse historical map of Europe:


When this piece appeared, the post-ac blogger Rebecca Schuman performed an odd credit-taking rhetorical dance over at her site wherein she "passed the torch" of the anti-grad-school think-piece genre to this author; but this piece is really in a different league.  The author writes: "The library is capacious and well-stocked. The undergrads are smart, if uncurious, and generally work hard. This should have been an ideal setup. And yet graduate school has been a drag. This is because I allowed myself to get caught up in the banalities of professionalization, the most common feature of graduate education in the humanities."

Finishing School

And on the flip side of the quality spectrum in writing about the perils and pitfalls of graduate school, all I have to say about this is: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! (Well, that and the fact that the Guardian higher ed section seems to have lost its way quite badly. Here they are blaming the Babylonians for university lectures being so boring.)

Five Things Successful PhD Students Refuse To Do

"Night owls are more creative and smarter. Daylight-based schedules are a convention, and it takes a high IQ to think of a new way of structuring each day."

I'm definitely having my students read this in conjunction with "Death of the Author" the next time I teach it:

Speaking of the relationship between authors, their intentions, and their texts, it's shocking to me that this lawsuit had the outcome it did, given the state of the study of the novel and our current understanding of the relationship between memoir and fiction. I guess it's true what they say about the law not keeping pace with intellectual life:

An awesome resource for people interested in digital humanities and computational linguistics:


Since it's been a while since I last did one of these, here are two favorite tweets from the time period covered:

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