Links, 8/9/09

  • Diminishing Returns in Humanities Research, by Mark Bauerlein (h/t – too long, takes forever to get to his thesis and recommendations (hint: this is bad writing), but the argument is generally correct. Here, I’ll sum it up, quoting him: Thesis – “In light of 50 years of vast research production, backed by substantial resources and subsidies, is not a redistribution in order, particularly toward teaching?” Recommendations – “One, departments should limit the materials they examine at promotion time. If aspirants may submit only 100 pages to reviewers, they will publish less and ensure that those 100 pages are superb. Two, subsidizers should shift their support away from saturated areas and toward unsaturated areas, in particular toward research into teaching and even more toward classroom and curricular initiatives.”
  • Who Lincoln Was, by Sean Wilentz (h/t – the author is exactly correct that much of Lincoln fetishism ignores the circumstances in which he made speeches: people are trying to make Lincoln a symbol beyond the political for all his speeches. The author is slightly incorrect in implying that the alternative to ignoring politics is a more literary reading; the issue is more complicated than that, given that poetry (Greek poesis – not just poetry, but to “do” or “make”) is politics. What’s really happening here is that one very immature conception of politics is using a literary guise, and attacking a much more developed and thoughtful way.
  • Old news, but it still makes me laugh and cry at the same time: Would you want to smell like Amy Winehouse? Apparently this is worth money to some people.
  • An excellent, excellent read: Michael Yon embedded with British troops in Afghanistan, in the middle of what is a battlefield.


  1. Very good article on Lincoln. Booker Washington, due to many of the same academic trends, now finds himself on the opposite side of history — denigrated as an “accomodationist” and “Uncle Tom” — as he’s been evaluated by that generation of the 1960s in their so-called “idealism.”

    It is good to see that there are still historians who recognize what makes a statesman.

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