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Melissa Selby

Items from 9 people Melissa Selby follows

Todd Suomela
  • Five months after the study’s original publication, on Tuesday, May 19th, a PDF was posted to the Web site of David Broockman, a graduate student at U.C. Berkeley at the time. (This summer, he will start working as a professor at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.) In the document, “Irregularities in LaCour (2014),” Broockman, along with a fellow graduate student, Joshua Kalla, and a professor at Yale, Peter Aronow, argued that the survey data in the study showed multiple statistical irregularities and was likely “not collected as described.”
  • In retrospect, Green wishes he had asked for the raw data earlier. And yet, in collaborations in which data is collected at only one institution, it’s not uncommon for the collecting site to anonymize and code it before sharing it. The anonymized data Green did see looked plausible and convincing. “He analyzed it, I analyzed it—I have the most ornate set of graphs and charts and every possible detail analyzed five different ways,” Green said. Ultimately, though, the system takes for granted that no one would be so brazen as to create the actual raw data themselves.
Todd Suomela

[1308.5395] Toward an Interactive Directory for Norfolk, Nebraska: 1899-1900

"We describe steps toward an interactive directory for the town of Norfolk, Nebraska for the years 1899 and 1900. This directory would extend the traditional city directory by including a wider range of entities being described, much richer information about the entities mentioned and linkages to mentions of the entities in material such as digitized historical newspapers. Such a directory would be useful to readers who browse the historical newspapers by providing structured summaries of the entities mentioned. We describe the occurrence of entities in two years of the Norfolk Weekly News, focusing on several individuals to better understand the types of information which can be gleaned from historical newspapers and other historical materials. We also describe a prototype program which coordinates information about entities from the traditional city directories, the federal census, and from newspapers. We discuss the structured coding for these entities, noting that richer coding would increasingly include descriptions of events and scenarios. We propose that rich content about individuals and communities could eventually be modeled with agents and woven into historical narratives."

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Todd Suomela
  • For Bloom, the origin of inspiration is dual: the daemon who ignites it from within, and the genealogical force that pursues it from without. The bloodline infusion of literary precursors has long been a ­leitmotif for Bloom, from the academic implosion of “The Anxiety of Influence” more than 40 years ago to the more recent “The Anatomy of Influence.” Here he ­invokes the primacy of Emerson as germinating ancestor:

    “For me, Emerson is the fountain of the American will to know the self and its drive for sublimity. The American ­poets who (to me) matter most are all Emersonians of one kind or another: Walt ­Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Edwin Arlington Robinson, Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, Hart Crane, John Ashbery, A. R. Ammons, Elizabeth Bishop, May Swenson, Henri Cole. Our greatest creators of prose fiction were not Emersonians, yet the protagonists of Hawthorne, Melville and Henry James frequently are beyond our understanding if we do not see Hester Prynne, Captain Ahab and Isabel Archer as self-reliant questers.”

  • Of all Bloom’s couplings, Stevens and Eliot are the oddest and the crankiest. ­Despite the unexpected common link with Whitman, the juxtaposition is puzzling. Bloom’s veneration of Stevens, ­sometimes “moved almost to tears,” is unstinting. “From start to end, his work is a solar litany,” he confesses. “Stevens has helped me to live my life.” Yet nearly in the same breath Bloom is overt, even irascible, in his distaste for Eliot, partly in repudiation of “his virulent anti-Semitism, in the age of Hitler’s death camps,” but also because of his clericalism: “Is it my personal prejudice only that finds no aesthetic value whatsoever in the devotional verse of T. S. Eliot? . . . His dogmatism, dislike of women, debasement of ordinary human ­existence make me furious.” In the same dismissive vein, he disposes of Ezra Pound: “I at last weary of his sprawl and squalor.” Nowhere else in this celebratory volume can such a tone — of anger and disgust — be found. Not even in Bloom’s dispute with what he zealously dubs “the School of Resentment” (the politicization of literary studies) is he so vehement as here.
  • Meanwhile, the daemon knows, and Bloom knows too, who are his most ­dedicated antagonists. They are those verifiable humanists, the rabbis who repudiate the kabbalists, who refute the seductions of Orphists and Gnostics, who deny the dervishing god within and linger still in that perilous garden where mortals dare to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and daemons of the sublime are passing incantatory delusions.

    Well, never mind — at least while Bloom’s enrapturing book is radiant in your hand. The daemon knows, and Bloom knows too, that in Eden, birthplace of the moral edict and the sober deed, there ­never was a poet.

Todd Suomela
  • The chief problem with the tech-first approach, Toyama observes, is that it relies on “packaged interventions”—quick fixes that might perform well in middle-class societies with basic income, housing and education supports, but can seem like cruel and perverse afterthoughts in the developing world.


    Nicholas Negroponte’s ballyhooed “One Laptop Per Child” initiative, for instance, has been largely a bust because the MIT prophet didn’t think it necessary to provide training on how to incorporate the computers into education; children are natural learners, he argued. Small wonder, then, that schools in Peru reported that the massive influx of laptops from Negroponte’s program yielded no measurable gains in learning.

Todd Suomela
  • Yet despite the rise of digitization, Keywords remains strangely timely—not least because it anticipates the opportunities and impasses that new digital tools have created for academics in the humanities. It is also because Keywords is only masquerading as a reference book. It is really an argument about the scholarly value of literature and the rationales for doing research on it.


    * * *


    Raymond Williams is one of those thinkers who helped change his field so profoundly that today it can be difficult to appreciate how original he was. The turbulence of the mid-20th century shaped him intellectually. So did his background: Born in 1921 in the Welsh village of Pandy, Williams was the son of a railway worker who supported the Labour Party. He joined a Left Book Club and read Marx as a teenager. Shortly after arriving at Trinity College, Cambridge, to study English, Williams joined the Communist Party of Great Britain. There, he befriended Eric Hobsbawm, who was an undergraduate at King’s College, and in 1941 they published their first article—a defense of the Soviet invasion of Finland.

  • The new definition of “culture” that Williams and the Birmingham School provided, which he called “cultural materialism,” was not a neutral description. It was a polemical tool—and as a tool, it was multipurpose. The new cultural theorists wanted to change how professors did research, but they also set a new agenda for teaching undergraduates. In the 1950s, the buzzword “culture” had belonged to another camp, led by T.S. Eliot and his champion in the Cambridge English department, the celebrated critic F.R. Leavis. By placing so much emphasis on the word “culture,” Williams and Hall were picking a fight.


    In 1948, the same year that he received the Nobel Prize in Literature, Eliot published Notes Towards the Definition of Culture. He described the book as aiming to “help define a word, the word culture”; unlike Williams, Eliot saw the changes in how his contemporaries spoke about culture as evidence of its decline. Eliot repeatedly expressed his wish that “the word would cease to be abused, cease to appear in contexts where it does not belong.”

Todd Suomela
  • Vendler is at her best when she discusses those poets she loves best, and it seems clear that from her encyclopedic poetic knowledge Wallace Stevens emerges as the poet of supreme value. She devotes four long essays to his work and mentions him in nearly every other essay in the collection. Her first introduction to his work, which she describes as the moment of “eeriest intensity” (itself a Stevensian phrase), was electric. “It was as is,” she writes in the introduction, “my own naked spirit spoke to me from the page”:


    I’d read dozens of poets by the time I came across Stevens, and I’d memorized scores of poems, but it was through him that I understood style as personality, style as the actual material body of inner being. Before I could make out, in any paraphrasable way, Stevens’s poems, I knew, as by telepathy, what they meant emotionally. This experience was so peculiar that I was overcome by a desire to know how that perfusion, which somehow bypassed intellectual translation, was accomplished. All my later work has stemmed from the compulsion to explain the direct power of idiosyncratic style in conveying the import of poetry.

Todd Suomela

On fraternities & manliness by Emily Esfahani Smith - The New Criterion

"The history of the fraternities may hold the solution for curing the current ills of the Greek system."

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  • Rather than giving fraternities new rules that they will surely break, college administrators and faculty members might encourage them to rethink their values and ideals. The problem with Greek life today is not Greek life itself; it is that the masculine ideal the fraternities currently celebrate is depraved. If that ideal changes, perhaps the culture of the fraternities would change too.
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