Tuesday, 28 August 2007

More on KC Johnson's Durham in Wonderland; or, "Horowitzian," adj. KC Johnson was bemused by my characterization of his argument as "Horowitzian," because, it seems, one can't share argumentative tics with someone who's publicly denounced you. But Timothy's comments further down what has turned into quite an exceptional thread have helped me hone my complaint against KC vis-a-vis his Horowitzian tendencies. His recent post about Duke University Press provides a paradigmatic example. He writes: In looking through the Group [of 88]'s c.v.'s, an interesting pattern emerges: sixteen have published books with Duke University Press. One of those sixteen is Priscilla Wald—who, as I mentioned earlier, was the impetus behind my first post—as her Constituting Americans: Cultural Anxiety and Narrative Form was published by DUP in 1994. According to this profile of her, she wasn't hired by Duke until 2000. What Johnson considers invidious, then, is that Wald now works for the institution whose university press published her book six years earlier. That Johnson fails to note that is telling. Also omitted is that it's published under the aegis of Donald Pease's prestigious New Americanist series. While KC would preface half its number with a "[naturally]," the New Americanist series is the series for Americanists. It published my advisor's book (New Deal Modernism: American Literature and the Invention of the Welfare State) as well as Sean McCann's Gumshoe America: Hard-Boiled Crime Fiction and the Rise and Fall of New Deal Liberalism, both solid works of literary historicism. Timothy's comment captures why they would want to publish with DUP even if they were currently employed by Duke: One reason that I think someone might publish with their "home" press is simply that it's the best or most reputable press in the subject area that they're publishing in. Duke is certainly one of the top presses in cultural studies and cultural history, for example. If I were at the University of Ohio, for example, it would be strange not to consider publishing with the very prestigious Social History of Africa series that has moved to that press from Heinemann. So Wald's crime, KC suggests, is publishing Constituting Americans with the most reputable press in her field a full six years before being hired by Duke. I sleuthed all these facts in five minutes, but in the course of writing a book, KC somehow failed to come across them? I don't think so, and this is what disturbs me. As Timothy writes (again regarding the character of university presses) in another comment: Different scholarly publishers definitely have an identity, a particular reputation with regard to specialization, and KC knows that perfectly well. At least I hope he does: it's a pretty basic facet of the scholarly world. The emphasis is mine, because that phrase captures the definition of "Horowitzian." To wit: Horowitzian, adj. (of a writer) belonging to or characteristic of David Horowitz, esp. as regards intentionally withholding profession-specific information when speaking before a general audience in order to incite it to commit acts of rhetorical violence. This is the Ur-Horowitzian move, and if...
A Brief Note on the Subject of Spam and Petty Crusades I'm nipping this one in the bud quickly. Yesterday, I sent KC Johnson an email indicating that someone had signed me up for upwards of 80 conservative listservs. (This happens all the time.) To his credit, he immediately posted a denunciation of the person who did it. It took me nearly two hours to unsubscribe to all of them. Needless to say, I have better uses of my time. Only now, some of his commenters are demanding I prove that I'm not inventing this. This morning, one asked: Many of the 88 have claimed to have received harassing emails from "bloggers", yet never produced any. There have been cases in recent years of both faculty and students in race/class/gender studies areas caught faking "hate crimes" against themselves. Is it possible that Kaufman's harassment claim is also a politically motivated lie? How can we tell? Does anyone know him well enough personally to say one way or the other if this is plausible? Despite the fact that KC knows me well enough (if only by reputation) to personally say this is plausible—and despite the fact that I claimed inconvenience, not harassment—the same commenter decided he wants answers: What were the names of the conservative listservs in question? Can at least one of their administrators confirm that Kaufman's email address was added and then removed within the last day? Another seconds his demand: I'd like to see proof of Scott Kaufman's allegations. I flat-out do not believe him. More and more often, you see this argument from the outraged fringes. They turn their sense of disenfranchisement into a pointless crusade. Happens daily at Jesus's General.* Happened last week at Confederate Yankee. But it won't happen to me. I stand partly on principle and partly on the impossibility of doing what they ask of me.** Whoever signed me up for these listservs used the acephalous (at) gmail (dot) com address posted on my profile. What he or she didn't know is that I don't use that address for private correspondence and that I have another for online registration. The reason I don't use it for private correspondence? I lost the password, so now I can only receive mail sent to it via Outlook. Do you think this is too convenient? If you don't believe me now, maybe you'll believe me then: Anyone know how to get their Gmail password back if they've lost it? I can still check that account through Thunderbird, but if this computer ever crashes, it'll be gone for good. (And no, none of the "recover your password" options have worked. Thing I hate about Google: no people anywhere to answer even a simple question.) Note that I specified Mozilla's Thunderbird in that comment. I lied. As anyone I've sent an email to can tell you, I use Outlook. (It's in the headers.) I didn't think that'd be relevant, so I tried to keep my open-source street-cred intact. When I saw all the Thunderbird-specific fixes, I lied again: Thanks! One...

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