Academic writing

Un interessante articolo sul perché la prosa degli accademici sia così poco comprensibile.
"Academic writing and research may be knotty and strange, remote and insular, technical and specialized, forbidding and clannish—but that’s because academia has become that way, too. Today’s academic work, excellent though it may be, is the product of a shrinking system. It’s a tightly-packed, super-competitive jungle in there. ..." Joshua Rothman, newyorker.


The Invention of News

Andrew Pettegree, The Invention of News: How the World Came to Know about Itself (Yale University Press). "Newspapers themselves were once new media. Yet as Andrew Pettegree explains in an elegantly written and beautifully constructed account, it took several centuries before they became the dominant medium for news. This was not solely because producing up-to-date news for a large readership over a wide area became practicable and economic only with the steam press, the railway and the telegraph. Equally important was the idea that the world is in constant movement and one needs to be updated on its condition hourly (or even monthly) – a concept quite alien to the medieval world and probably also to most people in the early modern era. ..." Peter Wilby, newstatesman.


Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi

To those who studied with Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, the great Jewish historian, the encounter was unforgettable. From his large and eternally smoke-filled office in Fayerweather Hall on the Columbia University campus, he turned the study of Jewish history into the most exciting, sophisticated, and cosmopolitan undertaking imaginable. Now, four years after his death in 2009, Yerushalmi is the subject of two recent books that explore his life and work: The first is a series of interviews conducted with Yerushalmi by the French Jewish scholar Sylvie Anne Goldberg and published in 2012 as Transmettre l’histoire juive (Albin Michel, 2012). With skill, patience, and sensitivity, Goldberg prods Yerushalmi to reflect on his evolution from a child, of two immigrant parents, who spoke virtually no English at the age of 5 to the most eminent and eloquent of Jewish historians of his generation.
The second book, which I co-edited with Alexander Kaye, The Faith of Fallen Jews: Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi and the Writing of Jewish History (Brandeis, 2013) mixes lesser-known writings with some of his classic essays. What emerges out of this mix is a clear link in Yerushalmi’s oeuvre between historical inquiry and Jewish identity. David N. Myers su tablet.


Why are writers such exceptional procrastinators?

Pensavo fosse solo un mio problema, invece sembra che procrastinare sia un vizio assai comune. 
"Over the years, I developed a theory about why writers are such procrastinators: We were too good in English class. This sounds crazy, but hear me out. Most writers were the kids who easily, almost automatically, got A's in English class. ... If you’ve spent most of your life cruising ahead on natural ability, doing what came easily and quickly, every word you write becomes a test of just how much ability you have, every article a referendum on how good a writer you are. As long as you have not written that article, that speech, that novel, it could still be good. Before you take to the keys, you are Proust and Oscar Wilde and George Orwell all rolled up into one delicious package. By the time you’re finished, you’re more like one of those 1940’s pulp hacks who strung hundred-page paragraphs together with semicolons because it was too much effort to figure out where the sentence should end. ..." Megan Mcardle, theatlantic.


Stay, Illusion!: The Hamlet Doctrine

Stay, Illusion!: The Hamlet Doctrine è il titolo del libro di un marito filosofo e una moglie psicanalista, Simon Critchley e Jamieson Webster, che scrutano Amleto attraverso la lente di Benjamin, Freud e Lacan, sperando di dire qualcosa di nuovo non solo sul dramma di Shakespeare, ma anche su di noi. "The book’s ultimate purpose, though, is to speak about love, “as husband and wife.” Critchley and Webster call their book a “rash lovers’ risk,” pursued “for the love of nothing, for the nothing of love, for the love of Hamlet.” lareviewofbooks. Il libro è uscito da Pantheon.


Bourbon and Books

Why, in America especially, are the production of literature and the consumption of destructive quantities of alcohol so intimately intertwined? Which came first, the bottle or the typewriter? While this condition has abated quite a bit in our more abstemious time (it’s been many years since I’ve seen anyone come back loaded from a publishing lunch), for much of the twentieth century, literary distinction and alcoholism were strongly linked. An oft-cited fact is that five of the first six American Nobel Prize winners—Lewis, O’Neill, Faulkner, Hemingway, and Steinbeck—were alcoholics, and the list of other notable writers who suffered from the disease would more or less fill the allotted word count of this review. Laing, a British editor and critic, battens on to six of these sad, brilliant cases, all men, in an attempt to solve, or at least shed light on, the paradox that their desolate and haunted lives yielded “some of the most beautiful writing this world has ever seen.” Tennessee Williams, John Cheever, Raymond Carver, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Berryman—ransacked souls all who drank like fish and wrote like fallen angels. Gerald Howard su bookforum.

Il libro citato è: Olivia Laing, The Trip to Echo Spring: Why Writers Drink (Canongate).


The Iowa Writers’ Workshop

Un interessante articolo sui programmi di creative writing.
"The Iowa Writers’ Workshop emerged in the 1930s and powerfully influenced the creative-writing programs that followed. More than half of the second-wave programs, about 50 of which appeared by 1970, were founded by Iowa graduates. ...
Creative writing was an idea whose time had come. Writers wanted jobs, and students wanted fun classes. In the 1960s, with Soviet satellites orbiting, American baby boomers matriculating, and federal dollars flooding into higher education, colleges and universities marveled at Iowa’s success and followed its lead. To judge by the bellwether, creative-writing programs worked. Iowa looked great: Famous writers taught there, graduated from there, gave readings there, and drank, philandered, and enriched themselves and others there.
Yet what drew writers to Iowa was not the innate splendor of a spontaneously good idea. What drew writers to Iowa is what draws writers anywhere: money and hype, which tend to be less spontaneous than ideas.
So where did the money and the hype come from? ... " Eric Bennett, chronicle.



Mi ha sempre interessato lo shtetl come luogo letterario. Ora è uscito un libro che sembra molto interessante:  Shtetl: A Vernacular Intellectual History, Rutgers University, scritto dal Jewish Studies Professor di Rutgers Jeffrey Shandler. "Until roughly the end of the 19th century, a shtetl was just a shtetl—that is, a town as designated in Yiddish, and nobody paid them any particular attention. Then interest in shtetls as places where Eastern Europe Jews lived picked up. Assimilated Western European Jews embarked on heritage tours to survey their exotic brethren in the east, academic interest in folk-life grew, and representations of shtetl life began appearing with more frequency in literature. After that came the Holocaust, which dealt life in the shtetl a final blow. Yet in a sense the shtetl did not die at that point. In fact, it—or the idea of it—has thrived in the decades since the end of WWII as artists, filmmakers, and writers have depicted shtetls—and what they imagine them to be—in their work". tablet. Su Tablet si trova anche la registrazione di un colloquio con Jeffrey Shandler.


Anxiety Is Not Only a Jewish Disorder

One of the liberating lessons of My Age of Anxiety, the amazingly candid and compassionate new book by Scott Stossel, is that Jews have no patent on anxiety. It is not a parochial problem but a human one, with universal implications for the way we think about our minds and ourselves. Stossel’s own family history makes the point clearly. His father’s family is Jewish, with just the kind of history that one might expect to breed anxiety: His grandparents were exiles from Germany in the 1930s, and Stossel was raised with this part of his background a complete secret, not finding out he was part Jewish until he went to college.
Yet when he comes to examine the sources of his own anxiety, Stossel finds that it is not a legacy from his father’s Jewish family, but rather from his mother’s WASP one ... Adam Kirsch on tablet.


The Book Title With the 91 Imitators

Il titolo con più imitazioni - ben 91 pare - è The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo di Stieg Larsson. Se volete andare a leggere tutte le imitazioni cliccate qui.


Yale negli anni '70

Il dipartimento di inglese di Yale negli anni '70 in un interessante articolo di Mark Edmundson.
"Theory, it seemed, was a Trojan horse that had made its way inside the gates of Yale. I thought that Yale had been strung up on a paradox of its own devising. Yale wanted the most brilliant minds in the world. Good. Now, in Derrida and de Man, it had a couple of them. Yale’s status was guaranteed. But to this ascendancy there was a cost. The best thinkers in the humanities happened to be opposed to all that Yale, at its most dismal, represented. So I took an interest in these debunkers. I followed their work. I plugged in and tried to cover a few of their tunes". chronicle.