Skip to comments.Academic Selfies
Posted on 03/25/2014 6:06:55 AM PDT by Academiadotorg
One of the fascinating dichotomies in academia is that its denizens, who more often than any other group, profess themselves obsessed with society, are more likely to show themselves absorbed with self.
The egological turn may be a reaction to the overtheorization of humanistic studies that dominated the late 20th century, Theodore Ziolkowski, a professor emeritus at Princeton, writes in The Chronicle Review. But it could easily have a similar negative effect if it simply replaces theory with the preening self of the author.
In the March 21, 2014 issue of The Chronicle Review, Ziolkowski surveys some of this literature. Some of the more recent examples are striking for giving us more information on the scholars who wrote academic treatises than we ever wanted to know:
In the Spring 2013 issue of Daedalus (devoted to American Democracy & The Common Good), the linguist Deborah Tannen dwells on her own work, Ziolkowski points out. When I was writing my book The Argument Culture in the late 1990s, I felt a sense of urgency because I believed that thie moment for its messagethat our public discourse had become destructively adversarialmight have peaked, Tannen wrote, working the personal pronoun into one sentence an impressive four times.
Nor is the self-absent from The UberReader (2008), a collection of writings by Avital Ronell, who falls into the realm of cultural studies somewhere between literary criticism and philosophy, Ziolkowski observes. Anyone who opens the book expecting to come to grimps with the superreaders ideas must first wade through many pages of photographs showing her in various costumes and in selfies ante datum with such figures as Jacques Derrida, Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, Jean-Luc Nancy, and Judith Butler.
John Eliot Gardiners book on Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven (2013) begins with an autobiographical chapter, and from time to time Gardiner intercedes in the first person, as in the description of their reception as honored guests when Gardiner and his choir arrived at the Georgenkirche of Eisenbach to lead the singing on Easter Sunday.
Ziolkowskis research seems to lend credence to a theory of ours, namely that the average professor Googles himself at least once a minute. At least, thats how often the Google searches seem to be whenever we post articles about them.
“.....the average professor Googles himself at least once a minute.”
I hope this is done only in the most private circumstances. What happens behind closed doors is nobody’s business but the individual’s.
If true, this is pathetic. Truly pathetic. It is way, way, way past time to reconstruct academics. It has become, in many ways, a parallel track to a career in politics (e.g. self promotion, situational ethics, connections and networking, etc. etc.). Very sad.
Used to be the motto for academic advancement was “publish or perish”. That was in the days of typewriters & handcarried drafts or snailmailed manuscripts.
I once believed that the `desktop publishing’ revolution would lead to an academic Renaissance. “Let a hundred flowers bloom” & that sort of thing. Instead, the result has been that predicted by the old data processing adage, “Garbage in, garbage out”.
Anyway, I was attempting to make a joke about `googling oneself’. Now, a monthly review of one’s exposure on the internet might be a sound component for an academician’s strategy for advancement, but daily, hourly, every minute?
That’s just narcissistic.
Yes, and if you are in academics, or have spent significant time in academics, you know that there is a very significant representation of sociopathic narcissists in academics.
You don't have to be stellar to be successful in academics, and too often it isn't that the cream rises, but that feces floats. I would bet that there is very little correlation between google hits and the quality, substance, and long-term impact of one’s research.
You may have seen the letter to Nature in which the former head of cancer research at Amgen wrote about his team's efforts to replicate data from ~60 ‘landmark’ cancer research articles (Cell, Science, Nature etc.). They could only replicate the results of I think 6. Each of these ‘landmark’ articles would have generated a ton of notoriety for the principle investigators involved, and their ‘google hits’ would have been high as a consequence. Nonetheless, the crap they produced meant little to the world.
You were absolutely right. Garbage in, garbage out. The system needs to be totally revamped.