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I am posting this as a benchmark, not because I think I'm playing very well yet.  The idea would be post a video every month for a ye...

Thursday, August 28, 2014

No, syllabi do not average 15 pages!

A recent article on Slate alleged this. A facebook thread in which I'm participating says that syllabi range from 3-6, with 15 being the high end of the scale. To get there you would have to copy and paste the entire academic integrity policy into the document. I just link to it.

Monday, August 25, 2014

3 or 4 (or 6) perspectives on Salaita

1. You should be able to judge this from a content-neutral point of view. In other words, he was screwed from contractual and 1st amendment perspectives. You should be able to say that whether you are pro-Palestinian or Zionist in your perspective. People defending him because they agree with his perspective, or attacking him because they don't, are putting forward irrelevant information. In other words, you should put it in the form of a hypothetical: a faculty member was hired, quit his previous job, and moved, and then had the appointment canceled because of tweets about X (where X is an unknown variable.) What do you think? Your opinion should not change after you discover the content of the tweets.

2. Why was he hired by a dept. of American Indian Studies when almost all his publications are on Israel / Palestine? I was told by someone in the American Indian field that two factors enter. In the first place, American Indian activists identify strongly with the Palestinian cause, because colonialism. Secondly, there are few Indians with PhDs. The field itself just doesn't have a lot of depth (quantitatively). That explains the way that the Ward Churchills can rise to prominence. Again, I think this shouldn't matter for discussing whether he should be lured with the promise of a job and then have that taken away.

3. Since the trustees meet after classes begin, nobody is technically hired until after they begin teaching. Hence the argument that he wasn't fired because he was never hired, or that the trustees are more than a rubber-stamp, is utter bullshit. No contract from UIUC is worth the paper it's written on anymore.

4. Why not give him Marrouchi's job? I think it should be opening soon. (Sorry, I don't mean to say that all Arabs are interchangeable!)

5. Salaita is anti-semitic (in my view). He tweeted that Zionism is (partly) responsible for people saying anti-semitic things, that it made Anti-Semitism "honorable." I know other people interpret those tweets differently, but I simply don't agree. (Wishing more kidnappings of Israelis was also ill-advised.) I think the point is that the sole responsibility for anti-Semitism rests with anti-Semites. It would be as stupid to say "radical feminists, making 'misogyny' honorable since 1968." No, misogyny is not the fault of feminists, even ones with whom one doesn't agree. The "correct" interpretation of his tweets is that he is pointing out that Israeli propaganda equates all criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, and thus robs the accusation of all force. The problem is that this interpretation is not obvious to all, needs to be pointed out, and still misses the fundamental point: anti-Semitism does exist and is harmful. The Spanish writer Antonio Gala, for example, published an article recently in which he said, basically, "those Jews again, they are good with money but is it a coincidence that nobody likes them, that they keep getting thrown out of everywhere? It's a wonder they are ever invited back." I kid thee not. So this is simply an anti-Semitic guy who would have that prejudice anyway, irrespective of Gaza. So some criticism really is motivated by anti-Semitism. Imagine that.

6. So what prejudices are legitimate? Is it really possible to have a content-neutral standard. Could it actually be shown that one's position on Palestine / Israel predicted, exactly, one's position on the question of Salaita? [I myself am highly critical of Israel, think Hamas is an absolute disaster, and that Salaita is a foolish anti-semitic blowhard who should sue the pants of UIUC.] I will cheer for him to win. I wouldn't cheer so hard if he were a Klansman or a misogynist.

7. No, I won't boycott the institution. I won't condemn your decision to boycott it, but I wouldn't refuse to have anything to do with it myself. I can't quite put my finger on why. Maybe I wouldn't want to penalize my colleagues who probably disagree with the administration by refusing to talk in their department.

8. But really, all you have to know is #1.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Foreign writers have been visiting Tokyo since the 1860s, but for such a vast, thrilling and important city it has proved barren as a place of literary exile. Among those who made Japan their home, as well as their subject, there are to be found only minor talents, chief among them the Greek-Irish writer Lafcadio Hearn, whose retellings of native ghost stories have made him more famous in Japanese translation than in English. The most interesting writing has been in sketches by those who have passed by and peered in without ever achieving intimacy with the culture: Angela Carter’s essays of the early 1970s collected in Nothing Sacred; Anthony Thwaite’s delicate and tentative poetry collection, Letter from Tokyo; and John Hersey’s great work of reportage, Hiroshima. When literary celebrities have alighted in Japan, the results have usually been disastrous.

Richard Lloyd Parry.

Here's some nice plagiarism of this by Marrouchi:

Western writers have been visiting Japan since the 1860s, but for such a vast thrilling and important country it has proven barren as a place of literary exile. Among those who made Japan their home, as well as their subject, there are to be found only few such as the Greek Irish Lafcadio Hearn, whose retellings of Japan native ghost stories have made him more famous in Japanese translation than in English. The most interesting writing has been in sketches by those who have passed by and peered in without acquiring intimacy with the culture of Japan: Angela Carter's Nothing Sacred, an individual inspection, Anthony Thwaite's Letter from Tokyo, a collection of poetry, John Hersey's Hiroshima, a work of reportage, or Roland Barthes's L'Empire des signes (Empire of Signs), a meditative essay are good examples. Other — in my opinion less sophisticated — texts include Jay McInerney's Ransom full of machismo and japonaiserie (Vincent Van Gogh's nineteenth-century notion about the influence of Japanese art and culture), Clive James's comedy Brrm Brrm, or Alan Booth's and Richard Gordon Smith's travel writings (on travel and Japan, see, e.g., Goebel; Kawakami; Suvin; on the problematics between the literatures of the East and the West, see, e.g., Aldridge; Moore and Moody). But Japan has never attracted the attention of a Chatwin or a Naipaul, let alone fostered a Kipling in spite of a short visit there in 1889, a Maugham, a Conrad, or a Bowles. I posit that exceptions to the rule are David Mitchell's number9dream and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet and Kazuo Ishiguro's A Pale View of Hills and An Artist of the Floating World.

I just googled a few phrases and came up with the source quite easily. I could do it for the entire essay, I'm sure, and find other uncited sources.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

"the realist tradition from Homer to Virginia Woolf"

Google this phrase. You can find it here, on the back cover of a book by Robbins.

You can also find it here, plagiarized directly from the back cover of this book by a recently discovered serial plagiarist.

The reason I googled the phrase in the first place is because it is ridiculous. There is no "realist tradition from Homer to V. Woolf." The back cover publicity material makes an exceedingly lazy reference to Auerbach's Mimesis, which begins with Homer and Genesis and ends with Joyce and Woolf. There can't be a "realist tradition" that includes two writers who aren't realists, Homer and Woolf! The complete sentence also included the verb "bodies forth," so I knew this writing was already suspect. Plagiarists prefer to plagiarize really bad writing, for some reason: "while it also bodies forth a revisionist counter-politics to the realist tradition from Homer to Virginia Woolf."

This particular serial plagiarist, Marrouchi, is extraordinary in his extensive plagiarism for years and years. What is bizarre in what I have discovered by accident here is that Marrouchi cites Robbins in parentheses but does not acknowledge that he stolen those exact words, and that he has replaced the subject of the sentence with a wholly different subject. On the back cover, it is Robbins argument itself that "bodies forth," and in Marrouchi's sentence it is a character from a novel.

Saturday, August 9, 2014


I've coined a new word, lorcalatry, after the model of bardolatry.

You're welcome.