Blogging is Not Scholarship

But blogging can be about scholarship.  The New Yorker had a thought-provoking piece last week (as it often does) about abridging and extending authored works.  Adam Gopnik’s “The Corrections: Of abridgments, commentaries, and art” is not available in full online, but an abstract is available here in an irony that undoubtedly is lost on TNY’s publisher. 

Among the few sentences from the full piece that appears in the abstract is this one, commenting on a recently-published abridged version of Moby Dick that omits Melville’s historical and philosophical excursions:  “The Orion ‘Moby-Dick’ is not defaced; it is, by conventional contemporary standards of good editing and critical judgment, improved. When you go back to find the missing bits, you remember why the book isn’t just a thrilling adventure but a great book. The subtraction does not turn a good work into hackwork; it turns a hysterical, half-mad masterpiece into a sound, sane book. It is all Dick and no Moby.”  The relevance of the piece and the quotation, after the jump.

Modern fiction’s demand for narrative linearity has counterparts in other genres, and of course that includes scholarship by law professors.  Here’s my question:  Is there room in the law reviews any longer — if there ever was — for work that consists of anything other then the direct and dry exposition of thesis, road map, example, analysis, and prescription?  I don’t have a specific problem or issue in mind, and it’s possible to pose the question in a number of different ways — which I’ll omit here, at least for now.  Should there be room for different literatures in legal scholarship? 

One thought on “Blogging is Not Scholarship

  1. Absolutely yes. One of my friends refers to the dry “problem—->suggested solution” structure of legal scholarship as evidence of its “eccentric normativity.” Why not permit people to

    a) richly, thickly describe legal phenomena (I’m thinking of Geertz’s Storrs lectures here)
    b) pen a series of aphoristic reflections (like Joseph Vining’s From Netwon’s sleep)
    c) submit poems that obliquely describe law (Auden’s Law Like Love)
    d) satirize or comment on legal trends (Aoki/Boyle’s Bound by Law)
    e) polemically attack a (perceivedly) corrupt system (Hyman’s MEdicare Meets Mephistopheles)
    f) podcast (see particularly Nate Oman’s interview with Berman)
    g) YouTube or Second Life inquiries about legal matters (see Seton Hall Guantanamo outreach)

    More prosaically, I like the variety of outlets available in both health and IP law. Particularly the former area gets unfairly shunned by top law reviews, so thought leaders in the area are submitting more (and smaller) pieces to medical journals, public health journals, etc.

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