When I was an editor at Harper's, I would regularly receive essays from professors hoping to reach beyond the boundaries of their disciplines and communicate with a wider public. The author of ten books, most recently Quotation Marks and The Medusa Reader, she is also the editor of many collections of essays and a regular contributor to the New York Times, the Atlantic Monthly, and other publications. The point is not to choose the right inflection for each term but to show how intellectual life arises out of their changing relationship to each other. With its pristine pedigree, jargon turns out to be the public intellectual's best friend—a friend whose moral power, curiously, comes from having all the right enemies. While I personally place very little value on literary criticism, I enjoyed the book and found it valuable for understanding intellectual endeavors more broadly.
She has published essays in Critical Inquiry, Raritan, and the Shakespeare Quarterly, as well as articles and Op-Ed pieces in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harpers, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Leonard Barkan, Princeton University Marjorie Garber has crafted an impressive career built upon words. In this volume, Garber brings her considerable knowledge and proper propensity to the discussion of whether discrete disciplines are the most effective divisions of academia. . Garber argues that the very things deplored or defended in discussions of the humanities cannot be either eliminated or endorsed because the discussion itself is what gives humanistic thought its vitality. When stripped of his theoretical armor, he limped along unimpressively in an intellectual no-man's land and didn't, it became apparent, have much to say.
Spirited master of both high and low, she compellingly demonstrates that the words we thought we knew are full of unexpected turns, shifts in meaning, and double dealings. According to cultural historian Peter Burke's introduction to Languages and Jargons 1995 , the word jargon has an extremely long and wide-ranging history. Still, it might be said, and quite properly, that politics is an unfair example. A medieval word, originally found in Provençal and French in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, Chaucer used it to describe the twittering of birds. I recall one piece by an ambitious young scholar whose prose, he assured me, was 100 percent jargon-free.
Although in the pages below I will make some pointed observations about the evocation of love in the teaching of the humanities, it would be fair to call this a love letter. Who has ever criticized a chemist for communicating with fellow chemists in the language of the periodic table, or mathematicians for speaking with algebraic or geometric terms? Why should we hand it over without a struggle to the hordes of working-men players who would quickly engulf all others? We live in a world of professionals and professionalization, from big league sports to massage therapy. Who in his right mind argues that we should dispense her word with them? Part of their power comes from the disavowal of the close affinity between them. She views each of these paradoxes through the lens of her own discipline, literary criticism. It opens the door to an important nationwide and worldwide conversation about the reorganization of knowledge and the categories in and through which we teach the humanities. In this lively and provocative book, cultural critic Marjorie Garber, who has written on topics as different as Shakespeare, dogs, cross-dressing, and real estate, explores the pleasures and pitfalls of the academic life. This book is not the story of the encounter of the humanities with the world of science and social science, the world of fact.
Aristocrats and gentry engaged in sporting events with the assistance of servants. Even something apparently impossible to professionalize, like motivational speaking, is a high-paying job, performed by migrating professionals from other fields: Colin Powell, a retired army general and former chief of staff; Naomi Judd, a country-and-western singer; Terry Bradshaw, the former quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers; Mary Lou Retton, a gold-medal Olympic gymnast. She wrote Vested Interests: Cross-Dressing and Cultural Anxiety, a ground breaking theoretical work on transvestitism's contribution to culture. They produce each other and they define each other by mutual affinities and exclusions. But this is a book about the energies that keep scholarly disciplines from becoming inert and settled. The Rugby name, as its name implies, sprang from our public schools, remarked one amateur rugby player and cricketer. Garber navigates her tripartite structure brilliantly, ferreting out traces of desire in every corner of the dusty academy.
Take, for example, her argument that the professional wants to seem like an amateur, since amateur status is thought to guarantee virtue. Written in spirited and vivid prose, and full of telling detail drawn both from the history of scholarship and from the daily press, Academic Instincts is a book by a well-known Shakespeare scholar and prize-winning teacher who offers analysis rather than polemic to explain why today's teachers and scholars are at once breaking new ground and treading familiar paths. With its wide range of cultural references and engaging style coupled with fresh intellectual inquiry, Loaded Words will draw in and enchant scholars, students, and general readers alike. But by the early eighteenth century, it took on its primary modern meaning as the vocabulary of the professions. With the proliferation of outlets like cable television and the Internet, intellectuals generally have less difficulty reaching the public than they once did. ¹ But of course American politicians have often tried to present themselves as amateurs, from George Washington to Ronald Reagan. And it does so in a spirit both generous and optimistic about the present and the future of these disciplines.
Her book Shakespeare After All was awarded the Christian Gauss Prize by Phi Beta Kappa. But isn't Garber's suggestion a straw man? Generally, it helps to have been successful in your previous profession; failed actors and mediocre athletes don't tend to get very far in politics. Garber explores the three paradoxes that effect the academy. Although filled with her standard potpourri of pointed observations and illuminating examples, the text positively bristles with arguments. This complex history makes jargon a perfect candidate for Garberian analysis.
National Lawn Tennis Association was founded in 1881, and Australian, French, and Canadian amateur associations all developed within the next decade. And it does so in a spirit both generous and optimistic about the present and the future of these disciplines. But are they jargon in any recognizable, modern sense of the definition? Garber born June 11, 1944 is a professor at Harvard University and the author of a wide variety of books, most notably ones about William Shakespeare and aspects of popular culture including sexuality. By the sixteenth century it meant gibberish gargle and jargon are derived from the same root. Terms that are jargon today will be everyday language tomorrow.
Cheerfully embracing the irreconcilable, she beats her critics to the punch. The professor's life is not a position but a practice, and Garber practices, with gusto, everything that she preaches. Written in spirited and vivid prose, and full of telling detail drawn both from the history of scholarship and from the daily press, Academic Instincts is a book by a well-known Shakespeare scholar and prize-winning teacher who offers analysis rather than polemic to explain why today's teachers and scholars are at once breaking new ground and treading familiar paths. What can you possibly say about a thinker who is so comfortable with intellectual incoherence, as long as it carries a whiff of subversion? For as a member of any discipline comes to realize sooner or later, it's hard to know where discipline envy, like inspiration, will strike next. It opens the door to an important nationwide and worldwide conversation about the reorganization of knowledge and the categories in and through which we teach the humanities. And this is Marjorie Garber's genius. For as a member of any discipline comes to realize sooner or later, it's hard to know where discipline envy, like inspiration, will strike next.