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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...

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A First

I recently reviewed an article that cited a poem from a web site like this. That is a first for me. That's what I was saying about competence the other day. (I found another similar site to protect the guilty, but it is pretty much the same.) You just don't do something this.

Even that was not an automatic disqualification: if the article had been good in other ways, I would not have rejected it outright. This was just another sign that the author was not familiar with the norms of scholarship. Another was not having a thesis, citing theoretical from secondary sources rather than from primary ones, etc...


Thomas said...

I know of a book that opens with an epigraph from the Bible, quoted from the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.

Vance Maverick said...

Thomas, was that perhaps a business book?

I puzzle often over the cult of the inspirational quote. People like these phrases to be attributed to important people, but paradoxically seem not to care if they're authentic, either in the sense of textual fidelity or of actually having been written by those people. Suppose you want to propagate this:

It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. – Charles Darwin

-- doesn't the possibility that he simply didn't write it cross your mind? This is a particularly acute case because D was a scrupulous writer who wrote at least one great book widely read today, but the lesson goes too for the people whose names only ever seem to be associated with one such tag.

The poetry citation suggests unfamiliarity not only with scholarly norms but with the telephone-game degradation of any sort of texts in reproduction.

Thomas said...

Nope, it was in the humanities.

Jonathan said...

I guess the Oxford Dictionary is a step up from poetasfamosos.com but not by much.