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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Friday, September 28, 2012

My Field is Crap

My experience with tenure evaluations, peer reviews of articles, panels to evaluate grant proposals, and book reviews suggests to me that my own field is crap. This might be merely a manifestation of Sturgeon's Law and hence not worthy of note, but it contains a whiff of hope for aspiring scholars: if your work is not crap, you will be able to publish it. An article that is good, not crappy, even if it is not great, can be published with relative ease. Mere competence puts you ahead of the game.

Some flaws that I habitually see include poor writing, a plodding, dissertation-like recitation of anecdotes, lack of concern for the reader, the failure to present significant conclusions... Most scholarship is dull and any peer evaluator is going to be elated if you can be interesting, compelling, and just not suck.

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