Corrupting the Youth, History and Historians

Hunting Snark – and History

 Or, <eye roll> Primary Documents </eye roll>

Tom Scocca’s recent snarking on smarm has got me thinking about the connections between history, as it is written and pursued, and one of the defining literary styles of our time. But before I bloviate over a blog post, here’s the essay: go have a look.

I’ll wait.

Continue reading “Hunting Snark – and History”

Corrupting the Youth

On Ways to Teach Writing Very, Very Well

Or, Learning to Imitate FTW

SEK’s got a fantastic new post up at Acephalous about a particular technique he uses to teach his student’s how to imitate an academic style of writing. Or, as he puts it “a very long post about teaching non-humanities majors how to fake like they know what they’re talking about.” 

Anyone interested in writing, teaching writing, or teaching non-humanities majors would do well to read the piece.

Though he’s framed it as a retention technique — for those science majors who after 2 years of problem sets and Scantrons get to their senior year research papers with no clue how to write in an academic voice — but I think it’s worth reading for the description of his pedagogy within which this technique is embedded, too. I especially like the way he gets the students on the side of good writing and argument by showing them how to take down terrible stuff.

Go read!

Scott Eric Kaufman, “How to Bootstrap Student Diction,” Acephalous, 5 February 2010

Image cite: the trial, write,” Flickr, CC License

Corrupting the Youth

Quite Readable, I’ve Heard


Just about the most honest book review I’ve ever seen:

Confessions of an English Opium Eater. Being an extract from the Life of a Scholar. From the last London Edition. Boston: William D. Ticknor, 1841. 16mo. pp. 190. — This work is very neatly got up, and is withal an interesting book. We suppose we ought to know something about it, but we only know that we have often heard it spoken of, and alluded to, as a remarkable book, and we have found it quite readable. We have certain vague impressions abuot its author, but, Reviewers as we are, and therefore expected to know all things, we must confess ignorance, and acknowledge, who Mr. De Quincy was or is, we know not, at this present.
~”Literary Notices and Criticisms,” Boston Quarterly Review, October 1841, p. 523

The BQR was Orestes Brownson’s literary review and all-around philosophical mouthpiece; Brownson, you’ll recall, was the social reformer and philosopher of Democracy who embraced the state as the organic representation of the people, favored John C. Calhoun’s vision of a “concurrent minority,” and rejected the abolitionist critique of slavery as so much “agitation” on the part of the bourgeoisie. Oh, and a convert to Catholicism who became one of the most important American nineteenth-century intellectuals in that tradition.

He was also, apparently, a hell of a review writer.

Ecstaticist, “Opium Bokeh,” Flickr, CC License