Skip to comments.Bad Writing's Back (Long article on bad academic writing)
Posted on 11/29/2004 6:03:19 AM PST by jalisco555
In January 1999, when Philosophy and Literature announced that Rhetoric professor Judith Butler had won its fourth annual Bad Writing Contest, nobody was much surprised. Many had pointed out the solecisms of Butler, runner-up Homi Bhabha, and previous awardees, and the abstract, twisting grandiloquence of critical theory with a progressive slant was already well known in academic circles. But the contest did have an unusual fate outside the academy. It became news. Philosophy and Literature editor Denis Dutton wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal (February 5, 1999), a startling forum for the treatment of academic prose. Articles in the New York Times, the Weekly Standard, and Lingua Franca appeared, and the New Republic and Salon issued attacks on Butler's ideas as well as her sentences. That made for a readership of millions and another humiliation for educators (after the Sokal Hoax, History Standards, Ebonics . . .). The contest hit a popular nerve, gratifying not only formalist critics, empirical historians, and scientistsall of whom had been targets of theory discoursebut also journalists, public intellectuals, and informed readers who found the language and attitude of critical theory obnoxious and overblown. Indeed, so far as I know, not a single voice outside the academic theory [End Page 180] realm rose to defend the professors. Butler responded with an apologia for obscurity in the Times (March 20, 1999), and was in turn roundly criticized in the letters columns. A few observers denounced Dutton et al. as reactionary hacks (Marxist art historian T. J. Clark compared them in the Times to House Republicans bent on impeaching Clinton), but for the most part the contest's ridicule went unchallenged.
(Excerpt) Read more at press.jhu.edu ...
"The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power."
I have no idea what it means.
at first I thought this was about the Bulwer Lytton contest, and that the woman had done it on purpose. Maybe she should.
In my graduate program this kind of writing would have been heavily edited by the professor and quite probably tossed out entirely.
Not all historians are full of crap. Alot depends on where they trained, and under whom.
Perhaps this helps to explain.....
Unfortunately, not only is this type of thing authentic but the people who write it are proud of it.
Yet Judith Butler, Homi Baba and others are stars in their fields. No wonder the ranks of English majors are dwindling.
These are the same people that can't comprehend strategery and good v. evil...
I'm not sure this is a sentence. Maybe a diagram?
Watching the smack being laid down on those gübers warms the cockles of this physicist's heart. :P
Sure, we have jargon, but we don't take it too seriously.
Quarks? Sparticles? P-branes?
Let me translate: It's Bush's fault.
As a student activist, hanging around the ombudsman's office, I read the A.A.U.P. manual, in which, right off the bat (or broom, as the case may be), the professorship exclaims their all-knowing all-seeing all-writing wisdom over all ... so much so, that no judge, no court, and, in my humble opinion, not much actual good writing has been able to touch them.
For, to impeach these regents, requires that words have meaning, substance, and tangibly, that is maintained from day to day, year to year, through the centuries.
Lest hot mean cold.
My personal belief, is that professors have run out of things to say, but they have not run out of money with which they burden everybody else.
First, they take your money, and then they make something that is worthless.
I say, we stop that.
Want to feed all those kids on that TV ad, from down in Central America?
Fire 10 professors.
Want health care for inner city kids?
Fire 100 professors.
Want to fix schools that are "crumbling?"
Fire 100 professors.
Why do "environmentally responsible" professors have air-conditioners, and air-conditioned $60,000 Volvos or Saabs?
If your board of directors and C.E.O. wandered into your area at work, and found that, "What do you do here?" amounts to the writing of professors (Mike Kinsley comes to mind), you would probably disappear in the next round of cuts, for not contributing to the output of the product in exchange for which the company notes that is has earned income.
Where in all that writing of the professorship, is the earned income, that is the money that other people worked hard for and were forced to give up, in order to continue the professors upkeep?
Oftentimes the worst of the bunch get the notoriety, as with many groups. Not alot of reportage on this guy, for example, who just won a National Book Award:
Personally, I ended up working closest with the oldest members in the dept more often than not. I think it made alot of difference.
Professor Irwin Cory BUMP!
Reading this crap makes me so grateful I edit engineers and rocket scientists. They love passive sentences, and I don't understand some of the technology and advanced math, but even their most complex technical discussions read better than this!
Yes, they have a scam going on. :^)
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