Tuesday, July 12, 2005

OT: I Guess Lynne Is Screwed, Then

Sorry 'bout your career, Lynne:
A pseudonymous professor at a small liberal arts college in the Midwest advises academic job candidates not to blog. His remarks are addressed to graduate students and junior professors, but honestly, they apply to anyone who might ever want to move from one institution to another. I’ve long accepted that if I ever did feel a desire to move, this blog would probably be the thing that would put the final nail in any application. (After the dabbling in cultural studies and game studies and my unorthodox attitudes towards my major field of specialization.)

Tribble’s reasoning isn’t entirely about blogging: it reveals a larger and more typical kind of academic parochialism. Yes, there’s certainly a whiff of pure distaste for blogs. But it’s also not blogs as such, but the decomposition of guild controls over what is verified as legitimate scholarship that they potentially represent. It’s the same attitude that lets other scholars justify opposing electronic publication of journals: all in the name of defending the high standards of peer reviewed publication. Tribble doesn’t tell us what discipline he’s interviewing in. If he’s in the humanities (as I suspect he is), defending the normal practice of peer review as being something worth saving is a bigger problem than an attitude towards blogs. Most peer review in the humanities functions less as a way to authenticate the accuracy and originality of a journal article or manuscript and more as a way to confirm that the author has the necessary hierarchical position within academia to publish the type of work they are trying to publish and as a tool for the enforcement of orthodoxy. Tribble’s defense here is about an entire view of academic knowledge to which blogs are only one small challenge.