Academic Instincts by Marjorie Garber

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In this lively and provocative book, cultural critic Marjorie Garber, who has written on topics as different as Shakespeare, dogs, cross-dressing, and real estate, explores the pleasures and pitfalls of the academic life. Academic Instincts discusses three of the perennial issues that have surfaced in recent debates about the humanities: the relation between "amateurs" and "professionals," the relation between one academic discipline and another, and the relation between "jargon" and "plain language." Rather than merely taking sides, the book explores the ways in which such debates are essential to intellectual life. Garber argues that the very things deplored or defended in discussions of the humanities cannot be either eliminated or endorsed because the discussion itself is what gives humanistic thought its vitality.

Written in spirited and vivid prose, and full of telling detail drawn both from the history of scholarship and from the daily press, Academic Instincts is a book by a well-known Shakespeare scholar and prize-winning teacher who offers analysis rather than polemic to explain why today's teachers and scholars are at once breaking new ground and treading familiar paths. It opens the door to an important nationwide and worldwide conversation about the reorganization of knowledge and the categories in and through which we teach the humanities. And it does so in a spirit both generous and optimistic about the present and the future of these disciplines.


About Marjorie Garber

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Marjorie Garber is the William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of English and of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University, and chair of the Program in Dramatic Arts. She has served as director of the Humanities Center at Harvard, chair of the department of Visual and Environmental Studies, and director of the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts. A member of the Board of Directors of the American Council of Learned Societies and a trustee of the English Institute, she is the former president of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes, and a continuing member of its board. She is the author of sixteen books and has edited seven collections of essays on topics from Shakespeare to literary and cultural theory to the arts and intellectual life, including Shakespeare After All, which was acclaimed as one of Newsweek's ten best nonfiction books of 2004 and received the 2005 Christian Gauss Award from the Phi Beta Kappa Society.
Published January 10, 2009 by Princeton University Press. 200 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Academic Instincts

Publishers Weekly

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Recognizing this transcendent urge on the part of both the individual scholar and the various disciplines makes Garber much more sympathetic to jargon than other contemporary writers on academe, describing harsh-seeming technical terms as ""language in action."" Liberally sprinkling her prose wit...

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London Review of Books

The debate Garber describes as the process of advancing ideas, Hobbs calls the rules of the ‘criticism racket’ – keep arguing ‘so that the presses can keep humming and we can all (well, most of us) retain our jobs and keep making the conference rounds.’ Postmodern Pooh is the cynical opposite of ...

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