Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Daily Egyptian: History Department in need of healing

John Ruberry didn't beat me to this article, though! This bit of writing is from an opinion columnist for the Daily Egyptian. Said columnist is also a graduate student from SIUC's History department. Does this look at all like a professional bit of punditry? Will it pass a piece of polished writing in general? I don't think this is the case. It ran in the Daily Egyptian as an opinion piece dealing with the History Department mess, but is it just me or does it look like excess bloviating masquerading badly as serious thought?

It starts out as whining and ends with a "we can only stand by and do nothing" shibboleth. Ms. Adolphson is a grad student in a history program, something that I would treasure greatly were I in her situation. (Yes, I WILL get my Ph.D. someday.) The department is in need of HEALING? From what? A bunch of professors who I respected despite our differing political views have sought to damage the career of one of their colleagues, if not destroy it outright. Thankfully, Dr. Bean has the confidence of the College of Liberal Arts dean if the AP article below is correct. Is this the terrible incident that requires healing? No, that's not it at all. The terrible incident is that Dr. Bean used an article from a right-wing website as an optional source for his class, and that source dredged up some shameful history. That seems to be the source of deep spiritual wounding. For the crime of bringing up the past that the bien-pensants would like you to ignore, Dr. Bean should be removed from tenure.

You also might like to take a look at the writing style. Is this a History grad student who really wants to be in that program or one who wanted to go into Creative Writing instead? This article is the equivalent of a warm fuzzy consolation hug. If I would have tried writing in this style in either Dr. Carr's or Dr. Stocking's classes, I'd have been thrown out of the class bodily. Ms. Adolphson is a member of a grim class of academics, a historian-in-training. Historians are supposed to be the studious nerds who use big words and enjoy hobbies that are just outright weird (like recreating the Battle of Crecy with smiley-face stickers, or watching BBC documentaries for the comedy value). No matter, when a historian writes, they should write grimly and dare I say it, like a historian. This article would be fine for high school English, but is very out of place even in a university newspaper.

1 comment:

John Ruberry said...

I'll have to blog that. Competition iw what makes our country great!