Things in Scholarship that Irritate Me

I’ve come across this in a number of books, including two in the past week or so. It’s always somewhat disconcerting when it appears in books that are considered revolutionary or important.

What am I talking about?

I’m talking about books that are very thick and include a massive bibliography. But as you read, there’s a nagging part of you that the huge bibliography is just for show, not substance. There no actual interaction with the literature in the text itself beyond a couple pieces of secondary literature. In the worst cases, the couple pieces that are referred to and discussed aren’t the right ones. They’re not the major or important ones. It gets worse when the bibliography is massive and not only are a couple sources actually used and they’re the wrong ones, but on top of that the important works you’d expected to be use & interacted with don’t even appear in the bibliography.

I’ve seen this is in a variety of incarnations.

So you, scholars who’ve done this, you’re on report. You’ve been moved to the black list.

Shame.

3 thoughts on “Things in Scholarship that Irritate Me

  1. I hope (“to God”!) that the black list will be at the end of the book (of something or other) rather than at the foot of the page. I can recall fingering the spines and pulling out curious old volumes at the Widener Library at Harvard, so many of them never once circulated. There were some gems there, but one must wonder over the wasted ink and effort on display on these shelves.

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