Unsystematic Likes #1
Interesting pieces from around the web
What evidence tells us about academia
“When it comes to research culture, why do folktales carry more weight than evidence?” LSE Blogs, Juan Pablo Pardo-Guerra
We may be trained in methods and theories, in coding languages and historiographies, but we are rarely inducted into more reflexive knowledges about ourselves as professional groups. Many academics learn to be academics by largely “winging it”, following what others did, emulating what worked (however imperfectly) in the past. Handbooks about academic life exist, but they tend to be reading materials for those already in despair rather than those coming into the profession. This is, of course, ironic particularly for a professional group devoted to producing knowledge about the world. “Physician, heal thyself”, it is said, unless you are an actual doctor.
What it takes (to make a logo)
“Elizabeth Warren’s campaign branding was influenced by Spider-Man, Nike, and Yoko Ono”, Fast Company, Mark Wilson
What Blue State created was a striking presentation of Warren. The name is written in a mix of Hoefler&Co.’s modernist Ringside and Verlag typefaces using the tight, compressed permutation, which gives the name a sharp intensity on the page—though when you look closer, you’ll note that the letterform edges have been rounded off, providing the name an approachability. It’s underlined to enhance its punch, and serve as an homage to “I Am A Man.” Ipcar admits these historical references are lost on most people, but that’s okay because they still have intrinsic meaning, while the visual techniques themselves stand the test of time. Plus, he still views the study of historical social movements as something that galvanizes the design team itself to create focused work.
Empires all around
“Empires in Disguise" (Review of Superstates: Empires of the 21st Century by Al Roberts), London Review of Books, Tom Stevenson
According to Alasdair Roberts, the trend has been happening before our eyes. By 2050, almost 40 per cent of the world’s population will live in just four polities: India, China, the US and the EU. (By my calculations it’s already over forty per cent – India and China alone currently account for around 35 per cent of the world population.) In 19th-century Europe the ratio between the population of the greater and lesser states was about ten to one. Today the ratio between the population of India or China and the average small member of the United Nations is closer to forty or fifty to one.
In the name of God, go
“The Goodbye Dissertation”, Temple of Sociology, Fabio Rojas
My response is this: the PhD dissertation is a pedagogical work, meant to teach people research skills. It is NOT a demonstration of high level mastery (e.g., monograph or flagship journal level work). A dissertation might be disappointing when you consider a student’s potential, but committees are there to teach research, not maximize potential. If you accept this argument, then it makes complete sense to have many students write shorter “good enough” dissertations.
Critical gender studies
“Worthy Women”, Inside Higher Education, Amy Gais
My students do not criticize these women’s better-known male counterparts for similar shortcomings. They are not deterred by Marx’s dense critique of capitalism or W. E. B. Du Bois’s elitist defense of Black education. In the mouths of Marx and Du Bois, these ideas deserve our sustained attention. Arendt and Wells are not granted the same grace but are put on unfair pedestals that no political thinker—regardless of gender—can reasonably live up to.
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