Thursday, January 6, 2011

Topic: Professional Acrimony

Question: What is the effect of viciously criticizing a colleague’s point of view in writing or speaking?

Answer: Watch it. That vicious colleague might turn on you.

Quote: “Although Jane Tompkins’s ‘Fighting words: Unlearning to Write the Critical Essay’ was published two decades ago, recent evocations of the essay by professors of English addressing the harmfully competitive nature of the profession suggest that its ruminations on the violence that ‘takes place in the conference rooms at scholarly meetings and in the pages of professional journals’ remain current two decades later.

In particular, Tompkins’s dramatic account of a conference session where the audience thrilled to the speaker’s denigrating attack on another scholar’s work has been taken up as a prototypical instance of the combativeness that infuses not only literary or English studies, but the academy as a whole. Thus it appears as the opening epigraph in ‘The Rhetoric of Reproof,’ Leonard A. Podis and JoAnne M. Podis’s analysis of ‘the censorious rhetoric that pervades our professional conversations’; it is recognized as ‘an oral version of what regularly occurs in academic writing’ in Deborah Tannen’s ‘Agonism in Academic Discourse’; and it appears as a block quotation in Linda Hutcheon’s ‘Rhetoric and Competition’ following the comment, ‘Jane Tomkins recounts a conference scenario that many of us, sadly, will find familiar.’” P. 48.

Comment: I think of people who are educated as above this sort of wrangling. Unfortunately, they are not and, in their denigration of others, they are denigrating their profession. RayS.

Title: “Reconsiderations: Anonymity and Violence: Jane Tomkins’s ‘Fighting Words’ Twenty Years Later.” Gary Weissman. College English (September 2009), 48-66.

No comments:

Post a Comment