Monday, January 27, 2014

Peter Higgs, Lee Patterson, and (Again) the Contempt of Elizabeth Scala for the Slow Old Guys Who Thought Before they Published

This is Elizabeth Scala on Lee Patterson's TEMPORAL
OF CHAUCER 33.1 (2011) 356-360.

So "Patterson belongs to a generation of critics
who did not have to write a monograph for tenure."
Perhaps, just perhaps, his failure to publish a book
a year or two after his first employment gave him
time to think earnestly and even with relentless
skepticism about received truths and to weigh such "truths"
in the light of his patient, dry-as-dust discoveries.
Perhaps his not having to write a monograph for
tenure meant that his first book had a chance of
revolutionizing Chaucer scholarship. Was it worth
waiting for?

Professor Scala, hear Higgs:
What’s the Point of Academic Publishing?  In December 2013, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Peter Higgs made a startling announcement. “Today I wouldn't get an academic job,” he told The Guardian. “It's as simple as that. I don't think I would be regarded as productive enough.” Higgs noted that quantity, not quality, is the metric by which success in the sciences in measured. Unlike in 1964, when he was hired, scientists are now pressured to churn out as many papers as possible in order to retain their jobs. Had he not been nominated for the Nobel, Higgs says, he would have been fired. His scientific discovery was made possible by his era’s relatively lax publishing norms, which left him time to think, dream, and discover.

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