Friday, May 13, 2005

Friday Musings 3

1) I usually try to glance at the Chronicle of Higher Education to find out what's happening in the world of academia. The May 13 "Chronicle Review" section is full of interesting articles: Stanley Fish on Ward Churchill and Larry Summers; Jon Wiener on how controversies on college campuses play out in the media (re Massad at Columbia and Thernstrom at Harvard); Richard Freeland (president of Northeastern) on universities and cities; and Carlin Romano on Pope Benedict's past.

2) I also recommend the May issue of Perspectives, the newsletter of the American Historical Association. Carlo Ginzburg has an interesting discussion of the role that on-line library catalogs can play in directing one's research. The piece hinges on the difference between searching a card catalog or an on-line catalog arranged by subject and using the keyword function (only available on-line). The most interesting element of this to my mind is the way that serendipity functions in research--something that my wife's grandfather, the biologist Aser Rothstein, once wrote about. Contra Sven Birkerts (in Gutenberg Elegies), it's not that there was serendiptity in the olden days and none today. It's that the technology that brings about the serendipity has changed. You can read Ginzburg's article on-line here.

3) Binyamin Singer has kindly provided me with a reference and I'm on the trail in regard to Nahmanides' canonicity (see Friday Musings #2) Unfortunately, I can't check it until I get to the library next week. Sorry to keep you in suspense!

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