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Friday, May 29, 2015

A Summer Writing Project

[This post is by Thomas Basbøll.]

While Jonathan is in Buenos Aires, he has kindly let me use his blog to do a little meta-reflection on a writing project of mine over at my own blog, Research as a Second Language.

The idea is to write a paper in strict adherence to my own rules, both in terms of product and process. Accordingly, the paper will consist of exactly 40 paragraphs: 3 for the introduction, 5 for background, 5 for theory, 5 for method, 15 for analysis, 5 for implications, and 2 for conclusion. Each paragraph will consist of at least six sentences and at most 200 words. On the process side, I will write one paragraph a day for forty days, 27 minutes at a time, always between 6:30 and 6:57, leaving me 3 minutes for blog-technical matters before posting at 7:00 AM (Copenhagen time). Since the paper will be a defense of the idea that "knowing something" for academic purposes is precisely the ability to produce such paragraphs, I'll really be putting my prose where my mouth is on this one. I'm hoping I come out of it with my dignity intact. Let's see.

I've already written the first three paragraphs, following my own advice about their content: first the world, then the science, then the paper. Next week will be devoted to unpacking the first paragraph into a five-paragraph "background" section. My key sentences for this section are already discernible in that first paragraph:
§4. Universities are supposed to produce and distribute—or, if you prefer, create and conserve—knowledge in society.
§5. "Academic" or "scientific" knowledge provides a gold standard for knowing in general.
§6. Research practices suggest it is the sort of thing that can be discussed by the faculty at conferences and in journal articles.
§7. Teaching practices suggest it is the sort of thing that can be imparted to students in classrooms and textbooks, and tested in written examinations.
§8. "Scholarship" implies school-like conditions and school implies leisure. ("Greek scholastes meant 'one who lives at ease.'")
There it is, then. I've got my work cut out for me. Two and a half hours of it, to be precise.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Buenos Aires

Acá me tienen, en BA. I haven't been posting much, doing a study abroad program in Buenos Aires after giving a lecture on Paul Celan in Spain (in Spain). I met a fellow blogger Natalia J., and saw a long-lost cousin who is a career foreign service officer stationed here at the American Embassy. We had dinner one night and then went to the race track another day. I won about 5 bucks by betting on the favorite to win. I had never been to a race track before. I am not planning on writing much here since my efforts will be directed toward learning and teaching about Argentina.

I am on Jorge Luis Borges. A good street to live on for 3 weeks. We share the same birthday, though he was born 61 years before me.