Showing posts from December, 2015

Celebrating epic novels - the long view

The Guardian recently selected Richardson's Clarissa as No. 4 on its list of the Top 100 great Novels of all time. Are such lists a snap-shot of current reading habits. Perhaps the choice of this 984,870 word text from 1748 is pure nostalgia. In my view, however, it sometimes makes sense to spend the entire week on Clarissa , or Middlemarch , or Tom Jones , or Bleak House , or War and Peace ; at other times several sonnets command the same investment of spirit, intellect and emotion. Clearly the great epics also repay re-reading, or at least selective re-sampling, of favourite passages and turning points. With regard to Clarissa , the reading process is an ordeal, a pleasure, and a discipline (rather like Foucault on sex). Reading an abridged version is perhaps like the difference between a one night stand and a longterm relationship... It's a different question how well these longer novels function academically in an over-crowded superfast highwa

Networking and Impact in Academia

One of the advantages of Academia is that it is a quick and efficient way to share your work and connect with scholars across the world, whether employed in public or private universities, or working elsewhere as independent or retired scholars. Although the statistics provided by Academia are not a measure of scholarly ‘impact’ they do help to illustrate the academic ‘reach’ of this site and its efficacy in empowering the free dissemination of scholarship. Admittedly, the statistics do not evaluate whether those academic ties are ‘strong’ or ‘weak’; but they do indicate the range of connectedness and suggest the vibrancy of a public sphere that is far greater than the physical international conference circuit, which is often unaffordable for the majority of less affluent academics across the globe. As an example, my work has connected with scholars in the following countries: Venezuela, Ukraine, Mauritius, Mexico, Czech Republic, Albania, Armenia, Argentina, Aze