Ivorytower dating

I know they never promised that academic work would be clear, but some paths are clearer than others.And no matter what happens, you’re supposed to get back up, pound your head against the wall until you black out, and then wait to come to so you can start all over again.

Just as MIT students are known for being kind of strange and unnaturally dedicated to their work (that is, they supposedly don’t leave their labs for more than half an hour at a time, under an almost obsessive entrancement with their work), so goes the reputation of Chicago. I wish my undergrads were like the ones jumping in on this discussion. The library at Berkeley was immense, and it actually feels small compared to the mammoth bulk of what’s available here. I’ve found that even their Googling skills leave much to be desired.

I have several undergrads whom I have spent much of my time with them teaching them how to do non-Google research (and these kids aren’t dumb, either — although they’re no smarter than the smartest kids at any major university, it’s just that there are more of them here). I have only once, in searching for an obscure volume of poetry, run up against an item that we didn’t have. Recently, I pointed out to them that they needed to evaluate their sources more carefully, and I pulled examples from their papers, recreating their Google searches for them, and showing them exactly how they arrived at those documents.

A friend of mine is the head of instruction in part of the library system here at Harvard, and she has had more than a few undergrads who have spent three years here, but . And the space on the inside of Widener have been renovated recently, so it’s actually quite a pleasant place to work, in the reading rooms and even in the stacks. Then I showed them that many of the sites they had used in their papers didn’t progress past the first page of 10 results.

Then I pointed out that several of these sites were, on some level, propaganda outlets for someone with an axe to grind.

The Isabella Stewart Gardner museum provided a brief respite.

If you live around here, go see the collection of the rich, eccentric, very tasteful, Anglo-Catholic fag hag we know and love as Mrs. And if your name is Isabella, you can get in for free….

Rare Books was severe, austere, a “pencil-only room,” but it had windows, creaky old books, and some of the oddest people I have ever seen in a library. It’s available for pre-order right now from the publisher (and I’m not quite sure that this means you’ll get it before you would in a retail outlet), but won’t show up at Amazon and bookstores until April.

And having been in a number of academic libraries, I’ve seen some weirdos. I note that I am a contributor, with my piece, “Virtue From Vice: Duty, Power, and This is not to say that academics and intellectuals are anti-religious, anti-Christian, or anything like this.

And I wish that there were some more grad students who liked this sort of thing.

Tags: , ,