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Enemies of Promise: Publishing, Perishing, and the Eclipse of Scholarship [Paperback]

Lindsay Waters

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Book Description

8 Jun 2004
Why should books drive the academic hierarchy? This controversial question posed by Lindsay Waters ignited fierce debate in the academy and its presses, as he warned that the "publish or perish" dictum was breaking down the academic system in the United States. Waters hones his argument in this pamphlet with a new set of questions that challenges the previously unassailable link between publishing and tenure. As one of the most important and innovative editors in the humanities and social sciences, Waters has witnessed the self-destruction occurring in the academic world because of the pressure to publish. Drawing upon his years of experience, he reveals how this principle is destroying the quality of educational institutions and the ideals of higher learning. It is time for scholars to rise up, Waters argues, and reclaim the governance of their institutions.

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""Enemies of Promise "is a humdinger about the crisis in academic publishing, where the 'publish or perish' imperative has created towers of books that no one reads, even the professoriate. Author Lindsay Waters . . . paints an alarming picture of a bloated assembly line fueled by careerism and dedicated to mediocrity."--;br>
--Bill Marx"WBUR Boston Public Radio" (12/16/2004)

About the Author

Lindsay Waters is Executive Editor for the Humanities at Harvard University Press, where he has been since 1984. From 1978 to 1984, he was an editor at the University of Minnesota Press, where he developed the Theory and History of Literature series. His book Against Authoritarian Aesthetics appeared in putonghua from Peking University Press in 2000.

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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good critique of academic culture 12 Dec 2007
By Khatarnaak Khatun - Published on Amazon.com
A publisher at Harvard University Press, Waters is the right person to offer this critique. He ruthlesly criticizes the coroporate, quantifying mentality that has crept into academics, destroying the authority and prestige of scholarly book publishing.

The last chapter is the best to read. There are nice quotes such as "Thinking is not like watching a lightning storm but more like catching lightning bugs."

Unfortunately, the book is hobbled by its own old-fashioned views. Too many books are being published, true. But Waters is part of the problem. He begins by saying that he has "an inordinate love of books." Well, so do tenure committees. At inordinate and unhealthy levels.

He criticizes the academic's unwarranted garrulousness. But he doesn't realize that this worship of the book (good, bad or ugly) has origins in the West's worship of books, texts, great books and great authors, as displayed in his own comments that "works of art spring us forth into momentary glory" and that the function of the humanities is to connect us to "great works of art." Waters elsewhere makes much of his aesthetic preoccupations, but does not acknowledge how restricted his account of the aesthetic experience is. His account of aesthetic experience is a text-obsessed, cognition-oriented, book-loving version. Pure eurocentric high-culturalism.
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