Sunday, June 22, 2008

Chancellor news at

FearlessSifting is getting to be the place to follow University of Wisconsin news, it seems.

An interesting tidbit from there is the National Review blogger, Travis Kavulla, who grossly insulted Chancellor Biddy Martin seems to come close to apologizing here. After opening with "Well, I guess I can count on not getting a post at Madison anytime soon!", he now calls his own work "just as obscure" as hers. That's a profound change from the implication of the earlier piece: Vast numbers of important academics, including successful leaders of universities, have done their research on what may seem like 'obscure' topics to outsiders. His intent earlier was pretty clearly part of his effort to demean her academic reputation.

I hasten to add, though, that he still gets it wrong, in terms of the most basic facts, like here:
Her latest — and only her second — publication is heavily autobiographical.
That's flatly wrong. Again it serves to create a false impression that Biddy Martin is less accomplished than she is. Martin has many publications, among them two single-authored books. Any reasonable second-year grad student has surely learned that monographs are a type of publication, alongside articles, editions, translations, and so on — all of which Martin has done. In linguistics and other fields, many top scholars never write books at all. Historians, like Kavulla appears to be/want to become, tend to concentrate on writing books, but all the historians I know write articles and it's an important part of discourse in that field.

No, Kavulla, I imagine you won't get a 'post' at Madison anytime soon. We have plenty of people who push rightwing politics around here, but we tend to hire people who understand the academic world.


Anonymous said...

With people like Kavulla, you always wonder to what extent they're stupid versus evil. I had initially leaned toward evil -- that he was doing the standard politics-of-personal-destruction smears that anybody who's not in line with them can be subjected to.

I've read some of his posts now, and along with your comments, it's starting to look like he's just stupid. He is still 'evil' in some sense, but such a moron he's barely mentally competent to stand trial on that charge.

And for all the highbrow pretentions that the National Review has ...

Mr. Verb said...

Who knows, who cares. He doesn't much matter for our purposes at this point.

James Crippen said...

Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity.

Mr. Verb said...

Yeah, it's more economical in some sense!