Tuesday, November 12, 2002

HARVARD ENGLISH RELENTS. An announcement posted on the department's web page:

Announcement: By mutual consent of the poet and the English Department, the Morris Gray poetry reading by Tom Paulin, originally scheduled for Thursday, November 14th, will not take place. The English Department sincerely regret the widespread consternation that has arisen as a result of this invitation, which had been originally decided on last winter solely on the basis of Mr. Paulin's lifetime accomplishments as a poet.

Monday, November 11, 2002

With the election over but the new Congress not yet in office; with the UN vote over but the inspectors not yet back on the ground; now seems like a good time to step back and take a longer view, look at the bigger picture. Perhaps that's why Josh Chafetz and Matthew Yglesias both have new reading lists up: recommended works in political theory and political philosophy. I'll recommend 'em both without further comment-- after all, the point is to start reading books, not to keep reading commentary about commentary about lists of books! On that note, I'm turning my computer off for the rest of the day.

No, really.

UPDATE: See the follow-ups, amendments, and additions from Kieran Healey, Chris Bertram, Armed Liberal, Pejman Pundit, and ther irrepressible Chris Sciabarra. (For what it's worth, my opinion is that Josh's list should precede Matthew's and Kieran's, and that the others include a number of excellent and interesting books which aren't nearly so fundamental as the ones on these three lists.)

This is a nice exchange among scholar-bloggers. Chris Sciabarra is a maverick professor of philosophy. Kieran-- whom I know, just a little, from our shared time in the Woodrow Wilson Society of Fellows at Princeton-- is a professor of sociology. Chris Bertram is a professor of philosophy. Matthew is a Harvard undergrad philosophy major; Josh is an Oxford political theory grad student. Pejman is, I think, a practicing lawyer (?) but his autobio is filled with enough paeans to the University of Chicago (where he got two degrees) as to show a scholar's temperment. (Armed Liberal doesn't, as far as I can tell, have an online autobio, presumably for privacy reasons.)

Why don't I join in further? Two reasons. 1) I just don't have that much to add to Josh's, Matthew's, and Kieran's lists. 2) It seems too much like work! Between syllabus construction and helping to put together the U of C's epic political theory general exam reading list, I do this sort of thing too often as it is...
Hmm. Now that most of the tenured social sciences and humanities faculty on my campus have signed a letter about Campus Watch-- a careful letter that allows professors with very divergent political views to sign it, unlike the Judith Butler petition I've blogged about before-- some of the fun has been taken out of my little crusade against the website's attack on the University of Chicago. Keeping it up would start to look like currying favor with my senior colleagues. (Many of the signers are tenured members of my department, and at least one is an administrator who was involved in hiring me.) This would be especially tacky since they had the decency not to ask junior faculty to sign their letter; they deliberately avoided creating the temptation to curry favor, or the fear of retribution among dissenters. So I think I'm going to quit talking about Campus Watch now.* But I would like the record to show that my first post on the subject preceded this faculty letter by nearly two months-- and that it documents a public disagreement I've had with a tenured member of my department on these subjects, so at the time I could hardly have been accused of sucking up. And I'll close by beating my drum one last time: If Campus Watch is sufficiently embarrassed by its University of Chicago reports-- filled with stories that have been discredited, irrelevancies, rumors, and complaints abou the peaceful expression of anti-Israeli views-- that it feels the need to put disclaimers on them, then it ought to be embarrassed enough to take them down. The statement by the University's Hillel Center seems to me the final nail in the coffin of those reports' credibility.

So the complete arc of my comments on Campus Watch:
September 19
September 23
September 26
September 27
September 29
October 22
November 6

*(That is, unless they really do something new to annoy me...)
I've previously called attention to the work Australian political scientist Bill Maley has done on refugee policy. He has a concise and powerful new statement of his arguments here.