Category Archives: Social sciences–critique of

What is Close Reading?

I spent several years of graduate school practicing a technique of literary analysis that my professors called “close reading.” At first I assumed there was something marvelous in the technique, tracing the footsteps of Spitzer, Auerbach, Trilling, Barthes, and other … Continue reading

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Institutional incentives and their consequences in the social sciences

There are three major institutional incentives that I see which negatively affect the social sciences. They are (a) institutional hierarchy; (b) a factitious division of intellectual labor; and (c) publish or perish. I’ll explain how I think these operate. But … Continue reading

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Strong and weak theories in the social sciences

There is something funny about how the word “theory” is used in the social sciences, and especially the humanities. One hears of attempts to “theorize” gender, or power, or postcoloniality, or the erotic, and anything else one can think of. … Continue reading

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Common replacements for intelligent thought in the social sciences and humanities

How to make your ideas sound intimidating, complex, impressive, and fashionable–or, how to talk in the humanities 1. Find a more vague way to express your idea. 2. Use faux-technical language — inventing jargon –borrowing technical language from another field … Continue reading

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