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The Problem of the Ivory Tower

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  • Last century Detective
    A brief moment of outloud pondering:  A brief moment of outloud pondering:
    Message 1 of 19 , Feb 3 10:57 AM
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    • curt evans
      Got my comment through on your blog, hooray! I throw in a few cents more on this subject. Curt From: Last century Detective Sent: Monday, February 03, 2014
      Message 2 of 19 , Feb 3 12:22 PM
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        Got my comment through on your blog, hooray!  I throw in a few cents more on this subject.
         
        Curt
         
        Sent: Monday, February 03, 2014 12:57 PM
        Subject: [GAdetection] The Problem of the Ivory Tower
         
      • Allan Griffith
        On 4 February 2014 05:57, Last century Detective
        Message 3 of 19 , Feb 6 3:46 AM
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          On 4 February 2014 05:57, Last century Detective <lastcenturydetective@...> wrote:

          One of the problems with academics dealing with pop culture (or any kind of culture for that matter) is that they often have no actual interest in the genre they've chosen to study, except insofar as they can use it to help them to prop up some half-baked ideological theory. Too many have a ideological axe to grind.

          I remember reading an essay by a feminist film critic on Hollywood movies of the 40s. I got the strong impression she'd never actually watched any Hollywood movies of the 40s. She didn't need to. She already had her theory (and yes it did involve the patriarchy).

          Many academics (especially in the arts and "social sciences" areas) don't like doing too much research into primary sources. Facts have an annoying habit of not supporting favoured theories. Their solution is to avoid the facts. 

          I suspect this is the case with academics dealing with crime fiction. They find a couple of authors whose work can be interpreted in ways that fit their theory (or can be twisted or deliberately misinterpreted to appear to fit their theory). They then avoid looking into any further authors in case their work doesn't fit their theory.

          Al
        • Mike Detlefsen
          It s not just academics... it s everybody. Mike ... When everything impossible has been eliminated and what remains is supernatural, then someone is lying.
          Message 4 of 19 , Feb 6 8:22 AM
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            It's not just academics... it's everybody.

            Mike


            On 6 Feb 2014, at 05:46 , Allan Griffith wrote:

             

            On 4 February 2014 05:57, Last century Detective <lastcenturydetective@...> wrote:

            One of the problems with academics dealing with pop culture (or any kind of culture for that matter) is that they often have no actual interest in the genre they've chosen to study, except insofar as they can use it to help them to prop up some half-baked ideological theory. Too many have a ideological axe to grind.

            I remember reading an essay by a feminist film critic on Hollywood movies of the 40s. I got the strong impression she'd never actually watched any Hollywood movies of the 40s. She didn't need to. She already had her theory (and yes it did involve the patriarchy).

            Many academics (especially in the arts and "social sciences" areas) don't like doing too much research into primary sources. Facts have an annoying habit of not supporting favoured theories. Their solution is to avoid the facts. 

            I suspect this is the case with academics dealing with crime fiction. They find a couple of authors whose work can be interpreted in ways that fit their theory (or can be twisted or deliberately misinterpreted to appear to fit their theory). They then avoid looking into any further authors in case their work doesn't fit their theory.

            Al


            "When everything impossible has been eliminated and what remains is supernatural, then someone is lying."
            -Isaac Asimov, 1973

          • Elijah Traven
            This is true. The people making a study of crime fiction should be living in the crime fiction world. Too much academia is half baked and time filling
            Message 5 of 19 , Feb 6 12:21 PM
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              This is true. The people making a study of crime fiction should be living in the crime fiction world. Too much academia is half baked and time filling nonsense. They churn out studies that replicate other studies. There is a lack of original thought and research. There is no grand vision.


              On Thursday, 6 February 2014, 11:46, Allan Griffith <dfordoom@...> wrote:
               
              On 4 February 2014 05:57, Last century Detective <lastcenturydetective@...> wrote:

              One of the problems with academics dealing with pop culture (or any kind of culture for that matter) is that they often have no actual interest in the genre they've chosen to study, except insofar as they can use it to help them to prop up some half-baked ideological theory. Too many have a ideological axe to grind.

              I remember reading an essay by a feminist film critic on Hollywood movies of the 40s. I got the strong impression she'd never actually watched any Hollywood movies of the 40s. She didn't need to. She already had her theory (and yes it did involve the patriarchy).

              Many academics (especially in the arts and "social sciences" areas) don't like doing too much research into primary sources. Facts have an annoying habit of not supporting favoured theories. Their solution is to avoid the facts. 

              I suspect this is the case with academics dealing with crime fiction. They find a couple of authors whose work can be interpreted in ways that fit their theory (or can be twisted or deliberately misinterpreted to appear to fit their theory). They then avoid looking into any further authors in case their work doesn't fit their theory.

              Al


            • Allan Griffith
              ... I agree entirely. And nonsense based entirely on theory is even worse than the usual kind of nonsense. ... Unfortunately the grand visions that academics
              Message 6 of 19 , Feb 7 3:59 AM
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                On 7 February 2014 07:21, Elijah Traven <elijahtraven@...> wrote:


                This is true. The people making a study of crime fiction should be living in the crime fiction world. Too much academia is half baked and time filling nonsense.

                I agree entirely. And nonsense based entirely on theory is even worse than the usual kind of nonsense.


                 
                They churn out studies that replicate other studies. There is a lack of original thought and research. There is no grand vision.

                Unfortunately the grand visions that academics have are too often politically and ideologically motivated.

                Al
              • Allan Griffith
                ... It is to some extent, although academics have the worst cases of it. On the other hand there are, in most fields, bands of amateurs (or fans if you like)
                Message 7 of 19 , Feb 7 4:04 AM
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                  On 7 February 2014 03:22, Mike Detlefsen <mdmeleagro945@...> wrote:


                  It's not just academics... it's everybody.

                  Mike


                  It is to some extent, although academics have the worst cases of it.

                  On the other hand there are, in most fields, bands of amateurs (or fans if you like) who often have not only a considerable breadth of knowledge of their chosen genres, but also an often impressive depth of knowledge as well.

                  I think it's very hard to write well about any genre (or any subject) unless you have a genuine enthusiasm for it. There are some very bad things about the internet but it does at least allow fellow enthusiasts to communicate, thereby increasing both their knowledge and their enthusiasm. 

                  It's groups like this one that make me feel that the internet was a worthwhile thing after all.

                  Al
                • Henrique Valle
                  Just a quick word in defence of academics. The accusation that academic scholars of detective fiction make sweeping and oversimplified generalizations of
                  Message 8 of 19 , Feb 7 4:48 PM
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                    Just a quick word in defence of academics.

                    The accusation that academic scholars of detective fiction make sweeping and oversimplified generalizations of detective fiction seems somewhat incoherent since it is itself based on a sweeping and oversimplified generalization of academics. People highly appreciated and even revered in this forum like Douglas Greene, Mike Nevins, Curt Evans and others are academics. They surely don't identify with the group being targeted here and I'm not sure it would be methodologically sound to treat them as "exceptions" (or that they would be delighted to be singled out as such, for that matter).

                    I agree to a large extent with the criticism expressed in previous posts on this topic when applied to several specific academic studies of detective fiction I've read, but I would refrain from levelling them at academics in general. This standpoint would only lead me to remain unaware of many valid academic studies of detective fiction, just as narrow-minded academics miss many valid aspects of detective fiction.

                    Henrique


                    From: Allan Griffith <dfordoom@...>
                    To: GAdetection@yahoogroups.com
                    Sent: Friday, February 7, 2014 12:04 PM
                    Subject: Re: [GAdetection] The Problem of the Ivory Tower

                     
                    On 7 February 2014 03:22, Mike Detlefsen <mdmeleagro945@...> wrote:


                    It's not just academics... it's everybody.

                    Mike


                    It is to some extent, although academics have the worst cases of it.

                    On the other hand there are, in most fields, bands of amateurs (or fans if you like) who often have not only a considerable breadth of knowledge of their chosen genres, but also an often impressive depth of knowledge as well.

                    I think it's very hard to write well about any genre (or any subject) unless you have a genuine enthusiasm for it. There are some very bad things about the internet but it does at least allow fellow enthusiasts to communicate, thereby increasing both their knowledge and their enthusiasm. 

                    It's groups like this one that make me feel that the internet was a worthwhile thing after all.

                    Al


                  • curt evans
                    Jon L. Breen and Bill Ruehlmann have academic backgrounds as well. There are some good academic studies of detective fiction too. I probably should be
                    Message 9 of 19 , Feb 7 5:02 PM
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                      Jon L. Breen and Bill Ruehlmann have academic backgrounds as well.  There are some good academic studies of detective fiction too.  I probably should be talking about some of them on my blog, but I tend to blog about the books I have issues with!  I would agree it probably does help if you have some enthusiasm for your subject.
                       
                      Of course I’m not actually an academic, strictly speaking, because I don’t hold an academic position.  But I do have a Ph.D. in history and I think that Ph.D. reflects training that was of value to me.
                       
                      As Mike says, you see misinterpretations of the Golden Age from a lot of sources.  Look at Books to Die For or Talking about Detective Fiction, for example.  Both those book had definite shortcomings in their takes on the GA in my view.  I do agree a lot of academic studies emphasize theory over research in primary sources, which can be problematic.
                       
                      Best,
                       
                      Curt
                       
                      Sent: Friday, February 07, 2014 6:48 PM
                      Subject: Re: [GAdetection] The Problem of the Ivory Tower
                       
                       

                      Just a quick word in defence of academics.

                      The accusation that academic scholars of detective fiction make sweeping and oversimplified generalizations of detective fiction seems somewhat incoherent since it is itself based on a sweeping and oversimplified generalization of academics. People highly appreciated and even revered in this forum like Douglas Greene, Mike Nevins, Curt Evans and others are academics. They surely don't identify with the group being targeted here and I'm not sure it would be methodologically sound to treat them as "exceptions" (or that they would be delighted to be singled out as such, for that matter).

                      I agree to a large extent with the criticism expressed in previous posts on this topic when applied to several specific academic studies of detective fiction I've read, but I would refrain from levelling them at academics in general. This standpoint would only lead me to remain unaware of many valid academic studies of detective fiction, just as narrow-minded academics miss many valid aspects of detective fiction.

                      Henrique


                      From: Allan Griffith <dfordoom@...>
                      To: GAdetection@yahoogroups.com
                      Sent: Friday, February 7, 2014 12:04 PM
                      Subject: Re: [GAdetection] The Problem of the Ivory Tower
                       
                       
                      On 7 February 2014 03:22, Mike Detlefsen <mdmeleagro945@...> wrote:


                      It's not just academics... it's everybody.
                       
                      Mike
                       
                       
                      It is to some extent, although academics have the worst cases of it.
                       
                      On the other hand there are, in most fields, bands of amateurs (or fans if you like) who often have not only a considerable breadth of knowledge of their chosen genres, but also an often impressive depth of knowledge as well.
                       
                      I think it's very hard to write well about any genre (or any subject) unless you have a genuine enthusiasm for it. There are some very bad things about the internet but it does at least allow fellow enthusiasts to communicate, thereby increasing both their knowledge and their enthusiasm.
                       
                      It's groups like this one that make me feel that the internet was a worthwhile thing after all.
                       
                      Al


                    • Henrique Valle
                      Curt, by academics I meant academically trained scholars and not scholars with an academic affiliation, because I suppose the previous criticism was levelled
                      Message 10 of 19 , Feb 7 5:26 PM
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                        Curt, by academics I meant academically trained scholars and not scholars with an academic affiliation, because I suppose the previous criticism was levelled at the academic approach regardless of that affiliation. Although of course one could contend that the affiliation itself may influence the approach in several ways.

                        Again, I agree that a lot of the criticism being made here is right on spot when applied to certain specific academic studies. I'm just not very comfortable with the generalization it involves. It is also true that misconceptions about detective fiction abound outside of academia -- but this only proves that, in general there is no evil private to the academic studies of detective fiction!

                        Henrique


                        From: curt evans <praed_street@...>
                        To: GAdetection@yahoogroups.com
                        Sent: Saturday, February 8, 2014 1:02 AM
                        Subject: Re: [GAdetection] The Problem of the Ivory Tower

                         
                        Jon L. Breen and Bill Ruehlmann have academic backgrounds as well.  There are some good academic studies of detective fiction too.  I probably should be talking about some of them on my blog, but I tend to blog about the books I have issues with!  I would agree it probably does help if you have some enthusiasm for your subject.
                         
                        Of course I’m not actually an academic, strictly speaking, because I don’t hold an academic position.  But I do have a Ph.D. in history and I think that Ph.D. reflects training that was of value to me.
                         
                        As Mike says, you see misinterpretations of the Golden Age from a lot of sources.  Look at Books to Die For or Talking about Detective Fiction, for example.  Both those book had definite shortcomings in their takes on the GA in my view.  I do agree a lot of academic studies emphasize theory over research in primary sources, which can be problematic.
                         
                        Best,
                         
                        Curt
                         
                        Sent: Friday, February 07, 2014 6:48 PM
                        Subject: Re: [GAdetection] The Problem of the Ivory Tower
                         
                         
                        Just a quick word in defence of academics.

                        The accusation that academic scholars of detective fiction make sweeping and oversimplified generalizations of detective fiction seems somewhat incoherent since it is itself based on a sweeping and oversimplified generalization of academics. People highly appreciated and even revered in this forum like Douglas Greene, Mike Nevins, Curt Evans and others are academics. They surely don't identify with the group being targeted here and I'm not sure it would be methodologically sound to treat them as "exceptions" (or that they would be delighted to be singled out as such, for that matter).

                        I agree to a large extent with the criticism expressed in previous posts on this topic when applied to several specific academic studies of detective fiction I've read, but I would refrain from levelling them at academics in general. This standpoint would only lead me to remain unaware of many valid academic studies of detective fiction, just as narrow-minded academics miss many valid aspects of detective fiction.

                        Henrique


                        From: Allan Griffith <dfordoom@...>
                        To: GAdetection@yahoogroups.com
                        Sent: Friday, February 7, 2014 12:04 PM
                        Subject: Re: [GAdetection] The Problem of the Ivory Tower
                         
                         
                        On 7 February 2014 03:22, Mike Detlefsen <mdmeleagro945@...> wrote:


                        It's not just academics... it's everybody.
                         
                        Mike
                         
                         
                        It is to some extent, although academics have the worst cases of it.
                         
                        On the other hand there are, in most fields, bands of amateurs (or fans if you like) who often have not only a considerable breadth of knowledge of their chosen genres, but also an often impressive depth of knowledge as well.
                         
                        I think it's very hard to write well about any genre (or any subject) unless you have a genuine enthusiasm for it. There are some very bad things about the internet but it does at least allow fellow enthusiasts to communicate, thereby increasing both their knowledge and their enthusiasm.
                         
                        It's groups like this one that make me feel that the internet was a worthwhile thing after all.
                         
                        Al




                      • Elijah Traven
                        Academic institutions are all ideologically situated. They represent state power and should not be seen as independent of state power. That idea is ludicrous.
                        Message 11 of 19 , Feb 7 8:25 PM
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                          Academic institutions are all ideologically situated. They represent state power and should not be seen as independent of state power. That idea is ludicrous. Crime fiction is of limited intellectual strength. It's entertainment not applied science. Rating it too highly is as bad as rating it too lowly. Why do we have crime fiction in Western bourgeois imperialist societies. Now, that is a question and it won't be answered by Western bourgeois imperialist academic institutions. It can be answered within a revolutionary socialist organisation. Crime fiction is of interest because it's a dominant form of literature in Western capitalist societies. The question is why?


                          On Saturday, 8 February 2014, 1:26, Henrique Valle <vallehenrique@...> wrote:
                           
                          Curt, by academics I meant academically trained scholars and not scholars with an academic affiliation, because I suppose the previous criticism was levelled at the academic approach regardless of that affiliation. Although of course one could contend that the affiliation itself may influence the approach in several ways.

                          Again, I agree that a lot of the criticism being made here is right on spot when applied to certain specific academic studies. I'm just not very comfortable with the generalization it involves. It is also true that misconceptions about detective fiction abound outside of academia -- but this only proves that, in general there is no evil private to the academic studies of detective fiction!

                          Henrique

                          From: curt evans <praed_street@...>
                          To: GAdetection@yahoogroups.com
                          Sent: Saturday, February 8, 2014 1:02 AM
                          Subject: Re: [GAdetection] The Problem of the Ivory Tower

                           
                          Jon L. Breen and Bill Ruehlmann have academic backgrounds as well.  There are some good academic studies of detective fiction too.  I probably should be talking about some of them on my blog, but I tend to blog about the books I have issues with!  I would agree it probably does help if you have some enthusiasm for your subject.
                           
                          Of course I’m not actually an academic, strictly speaking, because I don’t hold an academic position.  But I do have a Ph.D. in history and I think that Ph.D. reflects training that was of value to me.
                           
                          As Mike says, you see misinterpretations of the Golden Age from a lot of sources.  Look at Books to Die For or Talking about Detective Fiction, for example.  Both those book had definite shortcomings in their takes on the GA in my view.  I do agree a lot of academic studies emphasize theory over research in primary sources, which can be problematic.
                           
                          Best,
                           
                          Curt
                           
                          Sent: Friday, February 07, 2014 6:48 PM
                          Subject: Re: [GAdetection] The Problem of the Ivory Tower
                           
                           
                          Just a quick word in defence of academics.

                          The accusation that academic scholars of detective fiction make sweeping and oversimplified generalizations of detective fiction seems somewhat incoherent since it is itself based on a sweeping and oversimplified generalization of academics. People highly appreciated and even revered in this forum like Douglas Greene, Mike Nevins, Curt Evans and others are academics. They surely don't identify with the group being targeted here and I'm not sure it would be methodologically sound to treat them as "exceptions" (or that they would be delighted to be singled out as such, for that matter).

                          I agree to a large extent with the criticism expressed in previous posts on this topic when applied to several specific academic studies of detective fiction I've read, but I would refrain from levelling them at academics in general. This standpoint would only lead me to remain unaware of many valid academic studies of detective fiction, just as narrow-minded academics miss many valid aspects of detective fiction.

                          Henrique

                          From: Allan Griffith <dfordoom@...>
                          To: GAdetection@yahoogroups.com
                          Sent: Friday, February 7, 2014 12:04 PM
                          Subject: Re: [GAdetection] The Problem of the Ivory Tower
                           
                           
                          On 7 February 2014 03:22, Mike Detlefsen <mdmeleagro945@...> wrote:


                          It's not just academics... it's everybody.
                           
                          Mike
                           
                           
                          It is to some extent, although academics have the worst cases of it.
                           
                          On the other hand there are, in most fields, bands of amateurs (or fans if you like) who often have not only a considerable breadth of knowledge of their chosen genres, but also an often impressive depth of knowledge as well.
                           
                          I think it's very hard to write well about any genre (or any subject) unless you have a genuine enthusiasm for it. There are some very bad things about the internet but it does at least allow fellow enthusiasts to communicate, thereby increasing both their knowledge and their enthusiasm.
                           
                          It's groups like this one that make me feel that the internet was a worthwhile thing after all.
                           
                          Al






                        • Elijah Traven
                          The central and flanking bulks of our academic institutions are in the hands of the state. The state s power is broadcast through its schools and colleges and
                          Message 12 of 19 , Feb 7 9:07 PM
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                            The central and flanking bulks of our academic institutions are in the hands of the state. The state's power is broadcast through its schools and colleges and universities. The brainwashing of our children and youth and the personnel that teach in them is a process unparalleled in human history as even to whisper a protesting thought is to find yourself at risk of police harassment and dismissal at your place of work.

                            Crime fiction has spread like wildfire over the past 100 years. It contains every kind of restraint message and has police officials literally patrolling us on every page of the hundreds of thousands of novels that have been published. The police are mainly shown in a very positive light. Police departments advise publishers. Authors are gung ho supporters of this naked and explicit form of state power.

                            We can read crime novels in a social light as our neighbourhoods are covered in their glory and strife but this is plainly a novelist's skill and has no connotations for crime writers in particular if such writers can be said to exist. Why do we want or why are we given our social realist novels in crime fiction form? Writers are writers but some crime fiction writers are self admitted conservatives and supporters of police punishment and police mass surveillance of our communities. They are engaged in a social activity and social activity is politically congregated. In other words we can lambast the politics and social messages these novels convey to a mass audience. Something the authorities are aware of and are involved through the ownership of publishers. They get to manipulate us and no one is up in arms about this.

                            Crime writers are fair game. They can't hide away. Entertainment is big politics. How can crime fiction be anything else other than big politics? It reaches the masses and through television and cinema reaches the outer limits of society.


                            On Saturday, 8 February 2014, 4:25, Elijah Traven <elijahtraven@...> wrote:
                             
                            Academic institutions are all ideologically situated. They represent state power and should not be seen as independent of state power. That idea is ludicrous. Crime fiction is of limited intellectual strength. It's entertainment not applied science. Rating it too highly is as bad as rating it too lowly. Why do we have crime fiction in Western bourgeois imperialist societies. Now, that is a question and it won't be answered by Western bourgeois imperialist academic institutions. It can be answered within a revolutionary socialist organisation. Crime fiction is of interest because it's a dominant form of literature in Western capitalist societies. The question is why?


                            On Saturday, 8 February 2014, 1:26, Henrique Valle <vallehenrique@...> wrote:
                             
                            Curt, by academics I meant academically trained scholars and not scholars with an academic affiliation, because I suppose the previous criticism was levelled at the academic approach regardless of that affiliation. Although of course one could contend that the affiliation itself may influence the approach in several ways.

                            Again, I agree that a lot of the criticism being made here is right on spot when applied to certain specific academic studies. I'm just not very comfortable with the generalization it involves. It is also true that misconceptions about detective fiction abound outside of academia -- but this only proves that, in general there is no evil private to the academic studies of detective fiction!

                            Henrique

                            From: curt evans <praed_street@...>
                            To: GAdetection@yahoogroups.com
                            Sent: Saturday, February 8, 2014 1:02 AM
                            Subject: Re: [GAdetection] The Problem of the Ivory Tower

                             
                            Jon L. Breen and Bill Ruehlmann have academic backgrounds as well.  There are some good academic studies of detective fiction too.  I probably should be talking about some of them on my blog, but I tend to blog about the books I have issues with!  I would agree it probably does help if you have some enthusiasm for your subject.
                             
                            Of course I’m not actually an academic, strictly speaking, because I don’t hold an academic position.  But I do have a Ph.D. in history and I think that Ph.D. reflects training that was of value to me.
                             
                            As Mike says, you see misinterpretations of the Golden Age from a lot of sources.  Look at Books to Die For or Talking about Detective Fiction, for example.  Both those book had definite shortcomings in their takes on the GA in my view.  I do agree a lot of academic studies emphasize theory over research in primary sources, which can be problematic.
                             
                            Best,
                             
                            Curt
                             
                            Sent: Friday, February 07, 2014 6:48 PM
                            Subject: Re: [GAdetection] The Problem of the Ivory Tower
                             
                             
                            Just a quick word in defence of academics.

                            The accusation that academic scholars of detective fiction make sweeping and oversimplified generalizations of detective fiction seems somewhat incoherent since it is itself based on a sweeping and oversimplified generalization of academics. People highly appreciated and even revered in this forum like Douglas Greene, Mike Nevins, Curt Evans and others are academics. They surely don't identify with the group being targeted here and I'm not sure it would be methodologically sound to treat them as "exceptions" (or that they would be delighted to be singled out as such, for that matter).

                            I agree to a large extent with the criticism expressed in previous posts on this topic when applied to several specific academic studies of detective fiction I've read, but I would refrain from levelling them at academics in general. This standpoint would only lead me to remain unaware of many valid academic studies of detective fiction, just as narrow-minded academics miss many valid aspects of detective fiction.

                            Henrique

                            From: Allan Griffith <dfordoom@...>
                            To: GAdetection@yahoogroups.com
                            Sent: Friday, February 7, 2014 12:04 PM
                            Subject: Re: [GAdetection] The Problem of the Ivory Tower
                             
                             
                            On 7 February 2014 03:22, Mike Detlefsen <mdmeleagro945@...> wrote:


                            It's not just academics... it's everybody.
                             
                            Mike
                             
                             
                            It is to some extent, although academics have the worst cases of it.
                             
                            On the other hand there are, in most fields, bands of amateurs (or fans if you like) who often have not only a considerable breadth of knowledge of their chosen genres, but also an often impressive depth of knowledge as well.
                             
                            I think it's very hard to write well about any genre (or any subject) unless you have a genuine enthusiasm for it. There are some very bad things about the internet but it does at least allow fellow enthusiasts to communicate, thereby increasing both their knowledge and their enthusiasm.
                             
                            It's groups like this one that make me feel that the internet was a worthwhile thing after all.
                             
                            Al








                          • curt evans
                            Whatever my criticisms, I’m pleased that academics are looking at crime fiction and taking it seriously. Academics as a group are more respectful of Agatha
                            Message 13 of 19 , Feb 7 9:46 PM
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                              Whatever my criticisms, I’m pleased that academics are looking at crime fiction and taking it seriously.  Academics as a group are more respectful of Agatha Christie, for example, than entertainment journalists, I think.
                               
                              Curt
                               
                              Sent: Friday, February 07, 2014 7:26 PM
                              Subject: Re: [GAdetection] The Problem of the Ivory Tower
                               
                               

                              Curt, by academics I meant academically trained scholars and not scholars with an academic affiliation, because I suppose the previous criticism was levelled at the academic approach regardless of that affiliation. Although of course one could contend that the affiliation itself may influence the approach in several ways.

                              Again, I agree that a lot of the criticism being made here is right on spot when applied to certain specific academic studies. I'm just not very comfortable with the generalization it involves. It is also true that misconceptions about detective fiction abound outside of academia -- but this only proves that, in general there is no evil private to the academic studies of detective fiction!

                              Henrique


                              From: curt evans <praed_street@...>
                              To: GAdetection@yahoogroups.com
                              Sent: Saturday, February 8, 2014 1:02 AM
                              Subject: Re: [GAdetection] The Problem of the Ivory Tower
                               
                               
                              Jon L. Breen and Bill Ruehlmann have academic backgrounds as well.  There are some good academic studies of detective fiction too.  I probably should be talking about some of them on my blog, but I tend to blog about the books I have issues with!  I would agree it probably does help if you have some enthusiasm for your subject.
                               
                              Of course I’m not actually an academic, strictly speaking, because I don’t hold an academic position.  But I do have a Ph.D. in history and I think that Ph.D. reflects training that was of value to me.
                               
                              As Mike says, you see misinterpretations of the Golden Age from a lot of sources.  Look at Books to Die For or Talking about Detective Fiction, for example.  Both those book had definite shortcomings in their takes on the GA in my view.  I do agree a lot of academic studies emphasize theory over research in primary sources, which can be problematic.
                               
                              Best,
                               
                              Curt
                               
                              Sent: Friday, February 07, 2014 6:48 PM
                              Subject: Re: [GAdetection] The Problem of the Ivory Tower
                               
                               
                              Just a quick word in defence of academics.

                              The accusation that academic scholars of detective fiction make sweeping and oversimplified generalizations of detective fiction seems somewhat incoherent since it is itself based on a sweeping and oversimplified generalization of academics. People highly appreciated and even revered in this forum like Douglas Greene, Mike Nevins, Curt Evans and others are academics. They surely don't identify with the group being targeted here and I'm not sure it would be methodologically sound to treat them as "exceptions" (or that they would be delighted to be singled out as such, for that matter).

                              I agree to a large extent with the criticism expressed in previous posts on this topic when applied to several specific academic studies of detective fiction I've read, but I would refrain from levelling them at academics in general. This standpoint would only lead me to remain unaware of many valid academic studies of detective fiction, just as narrow-minded academics miss many valid aspects of detective fiction.

                              Henrique


                              From: Allan Griffith <dfordoom@...>
                              To: GAdetection@yahoogroups.com
                              Sent: Friday, February 7, 2014 12:04 PM
                              Subject: Re: [GAdetection] The Problem of the Ivory Tower
                               
                               
                              On 7 February 2014 03:22, Mike Detlefsen <mdmeleagro945@...> wrote:


                              It's not just academics... it's everybody.
                               
                              Mike
                               
                               
                              It is to some extent, although academics have the worst cases of it.
                               
                              On the other hand there are, in most fields, bands of amateurs (or fans if you like) who often have not only a considerable breadth of knowledge of their chosen genres, but also an often impressive depth of knowledge as well.
                               
                              I think it's very hard to write well about any genre (or any subject) unless you have a genuine enthusiasm for it. There are some very bad things about the internet but it does at least allow fellow enthusiasts to communicate, thereby increasing both their knowledge and their enthusiasm.
                               
                              It's groups like this one that make me feel that the internet was a worthwhile thing after all.
                               
                              Al




                            • Last century Detective
                              Henrique,  I hope you didn t take this as sniping at people like Douglas Greene and Mike Nevins, but merely poking a stick at the type of academics who do
                              Message 14 of 19 , Feb 8 2:15 AM
                              • 0 Attachment
                                Henrique,
                                 
                                I hope you didn't take this as sniping at people like Douglas Greene and Mike Nevins, but merely poking a stick at the type of academics who do make sweeping, generalization statements about GAD fiction. And worst of all, their opinion is usually sourced for other books attempting to explain the history of the genre and I refer you to Curt's recent posts on Lucy Worsley's A VERY BRITISH MURDER: THE STORY OF A NATIONAL OBSESSION to see the result of it. Just a little push back.


                                On Saturday, February 8, 2014 6:46 AM, curt evans <praed_street@...> wrote:
                                 
                                Whatever my criticisms, I’m pleased that academics are looking at crime fiction and taking it seriously.  Academics as a group are more respectful of Agatha Christie, for example, than entertainment journalists, I think.
                                 
                                Curt
                                 
                                Sent: Friday, February 07, 2014 7:26 PM
                                Subject: Re: [GAdetection] The Problem of the Ivory Tower
                                 
                                 
                                Curt, by academics I meant academically trained scholars and not scholars with an academic affiliation, because I suppose the previous criticism was levelled at the academic approach regardless of that affiliation. Although of course one could contend that the affiliation itself may influence the approach in several ways.

                                Again, I agree that a lot of the criticism being made here is right on spot when applied to certain specific academic studies. I'm just not very comfortable with the generalization it involves. It is also true that misconceptions about detective fiction abound outside of academia -- but this only proves that, in general there is no evil private to the academic studies of detective fiction!

                                Henrique


                                From: curt evans <praed_street@...>
                                To: GAdetection@yahoogroups.com
                                Sent: Saturday, February 8, 2014 1:02 AM
                                Subject: Re: [GAdetection] The Problem of the Ivory Tower
                                 
                                 
                                Jon L. Breen and Bill Ruehlmann have academic backgrounds as well.  There are some good academic studies of detective fiction too.  I probably should be talking about some of them on my blog, but I tend to blog about the books I have issues with!  I would agree it probably does help if you have some enthusiasm for your subject.
                                 
                                Of course I’m not actually an academic, strictly speaking, because I don’t hold an academic position.  But I do have a Ph.D. in history and I think that Ph.D. reflects training that was of value to me.
                                 
                                As Mike says, you see misinterpretations of the Golden Age from a lot of sources.  Look at Books to Die For or Talking about Detective Fiction, for example.  Both those book had definite shortcomings in their takes on the GA in my view.  I do agree a lot of academic studies emphasize theory over research in primary sources, which can be problematic.
                                 
                                Best,
                                 
                                Curt
                                 
                                Sent: Friday, February 07, 2014 6:48 PM
                                Subject: Re: [GAdetection] The Problem of the Ivory Tower
                                 
                                 
                                Just a quick word in defence of academics.

                                The accusation that academic scholars of detective fiction make sweeping and oversimplified generalizations of detective fiction seems somewhat incoherent since it is itself based on a sweeping and oversimplified generalization of academics. People highly appreciated and even revered in this forum like Douglas Greene, Mike Nevins, Curt Evans and others are academics. They surely don't identify with the group being targeted here and I'm not sure it would be methodologically sound to treat them as "exceptions" (or that they would be delighted to be singled out as such, for that matter).

                                I agree to a large extent with the criticism expressed in previous posts on this topic when applied to several specific academic studies of detective fiction I've read, but I would refrain from levelling them at academics in general. This standpoint would only lead me to remain unaware of many valid academic studies of detective fiction, just as narrow-minded academics miss many valid aspects of detective fiction.

                                Henrique


                                From: Allan Griffith <dfordoom@...>
                                To: GAdetection@yahoogroups.com
                                Sent: Friday, February 7, 2014 12:04 PM
                                Subject: Re: [GAdetection] The Problem of the Ivory Tower
                                 
                                 
                                On 7 February 2014 03:22, Mike Detlefsen <mdmeleagro945@...> wrote:


                                It's not just academics... it's everybody.
                                 
                                Mike
                                 
                                 
                                It is to some extent, although academics have the worst cases of it.
                                 
                                On the other hand there are, in most fields, bands of amateurs (or fans if you like) who often have not only a considerable breadth of knowledge of their chosen genres, but also an often impressive depth of knowledge as well.
                                 
                                I think it's very hard to write well about any genre (or any subject) unless you have a genuine enthusiasm for it. There are some very bad things about the internet but it does at least allow fellow enthusiasts to communicate, thereby increasing both their knowledge and their enthusiasm.
                                 
                                It's groups like this one that make me feel that the internet was a worthwhile thing after all.
                                 
                                Al






                              • curt evans
                                Actually, though, Worsley, though she has an academic background herself (history degree), is relying in her book mostly on Symons, James and Colin Watson for
                                Message 15 of 19 , Feb 8 5:18 AM
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                                  Actually, though, Worsley, though she has an academic background herself (history degree), is relying in her book mostly on Symons, James and Colin Watson for her Golden Age coverage. Her book is really what I would call a “popular” book, like those three’s.

                                  I’ll have to make amends and do a post sometime on academic books I would recommend.

                                  Curt

                                  From: Last century Detective
                                  Sent: Saturday, February 08, 2014 4:15 AM
                                  To: GAdetection@yahoogroups.com
                                  Subject: Re: [GAdetection] The Problem of the Ivory Tower



                                  Henrique,

                                  I hope you didn't take this as sniping at people like Douglas Greene and Mike Nevins, but merely poking a stick at the type of academics who do make sweeping, generalization statements about GAD fiction. And worst of all, their opinion is usually sourced for other books attempting to explain the history of the genre and I refer you to Curt's recent posts on Lucy Worsley's A VERY BRITISH MURDER: THE STORY OF A NATIONAL OBSESSION to see the result of it. Just a little push back.



                                  On Saturday, February 8, 2014 6:46 AM, curt evans <praed_street@...> wrote:


                                  Whatever my criticisms, I’m pleased that academics are looking at crime fiction and taking it seriously. Academics as a group are more respectful of Agatha Christie, for example, than entertainment journalists, I think.

                                  Curt

                                  From: Henrique Valle
                                  Sent: Friday, February 07, 2014 7:26 PM
                                  To: GAdetection@yahoogroups.com
                                  Subject: Re: [GAdetection] The Problem of the Ivory Tower


                                  Curt, by academics I meant academically trained scholars and not scholars with an academic affiliation, because I suppose the previous criticism was levelled at the academic approach regardless of that affiliation. Although of course one could contend that the affiliation itself may influence the approach in several ways.

                                  Again, I agree that a lot of the criticism being made here is right on spot when applied to certain specific academic studies. I'm just not very comfortable with the generalization it involves. It is also true that misconceptions about detective fiction abound outside of academia -- but this only proves that, in general there is no evil private to the academic studies of detective fiction!

                                  Henrique



                                  ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                  From: curt evans <praed_street@...>
                                  To: GAdetection@yahoogroups.com
                                  Sent: Saturday, February 8, 2014 1:02 AM
                                  Subject: Re: [GAdetection] The Problem of the Ivory Tower



                                  Jon L. Breen and Bill Ruehlmann have academic backgrounds as well. There are some good academic studies of detective fiction too. I probably should be talking about some of them on my blog, but I tend to blog about the books I have issues with! I would agree it probably does help if you have some enthusiasm for your subject.

                                  Of course I’m not actually an academic, strictly speaking, because I don’t hold an academic position. But I do have a Ph.D. in history and I think that Ph.D. reflects training that was of value to me.

                                  As Mike says, you see misinterpretations of the Golden Age from a lot of sources. Look at Books to Die For or Talking about Detective Fiction, for example. Both those book had definite shortcomings in their takes on the GA in my view. I do agree a lot of academic studies emphasize theory over research in primary sources, which can be problematic.

                                  Best,

                                  Curt

                                  From: Henrique Valle
                                  Sent: Friday, February 07, 2014 6:48 PM
                                  To: GAdetection@yahoogroups.com
                                  Subject: Re: [GAdetection] The Problem of the Ivory Tower


                                  Just a quick word in defence of academics.

                                  The accusation that academic scholars of detective fiction make sweeping and oversimplified generalizations of detective fiction seems somewhat incoherent since it is itself based on a sweeping and oversimplified generalization of academics. People highly appreciated and even revered in this forum like Douglas Greene, Mike Nevins, Curt Evans and others are academics. They surely don't identify with the group being targeted here and I'm not sure it would be methodologically sound to treat them as "exceptions" (or that they would be delighted to be singled out as such, for that matter).

                                  I agree to a large extent with the criticism expressed in previous posts on this topic when applied to several specific academic studies of detective fiction I've read, but I would refrain from levelling them at academics in general. This standpoint would only lead me to remain unaware of many valid academic studies of detective fiction, just as narrow-minded academics miss many valid aspects of detective fiction.

                                  Henrique



                                  ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                  From: Allan Griffith <dfordoom@...>
                                  To: GAdetection@yahoogroups.com
                                  Sent: Friday, February 7, 2014 12:04 PM
                                  Subject: Re: [GAdetection] The Problem of the Ivory Tower



                                  On 7 February 2014 03:22, Mike Detlefsen <mdmeleagro945@...> wrote:



                                  It's not just academics... it's everybody.

                                  Mike


                                  It is to some extent, although academics have the worst cases of it.

                                  On the other hand there are, in most fields, bands of amateurs (or fans if you like) who often have not only a considerable breadth of knowledge of their chosen genres, but also an often impressive depth of knowledge as well.

                                  I think it's very hard to write well about any genre (or any subject) unless you have a genuine enthusiasm for it. There are some very bad things about the internet but it does at least allow fellow enthusiasts to communicate, thereby increasing both their knowledge and their enthusiasm.

                                  It's groups like this one that make me feel that the internet was a worthwhile thing after all.

                                  Al














                                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                • Allan Griffith
                                  ... I particularly disliked Colin Watson s book. To me it represents everything I dislike about so much crime fiction criticism - it s so painfully
                                  Message 16 of 19 , Feb 8 10:04 AM
                                  • 0 Attachment
                                    On 9 February 2014 00:18, curt evans <praed_street@...> wrote:
                                    Actually, though, Worsley, though she has an academic background herself (history degree), is relying in her book mostly on Symons, James and Colin Watson for her Golden Age coverage.  

                                    I particularly disliked Colin Watson's book. To me it represents everything I dislike about so much crime fiction criticism - it's so painfully ideologically driven.

                                    Al
                                  • Allan Griffith
                                    ... As academia has become more and more politicised we see more and more academics whose only interest in any form of culture is ideological. We get art
                                    Message 17 of 19 , Feb 8 10:26 AM
                                    • 0 Attachment
                                      On 8 February 2014 12:26, Henrique Valle <vallehenrique@...> wrote:


                                      Again, I agree that a lot of the criticism being made here is right on spot when applied to certain specific academic studies. I'm just not very comfortable with the generalization it involves. It is also true that misconceptions about detective fiction abound outside of academia -- but this only proves that, in general there is no evil private to the academic studies of detective fiction!

                                      Henrique

                                      As academia has become more and more politicised we see more and more academics whose only interest in any form of culture is ideological. We get art historians who are more interested in politics than at, film scholars who are only interested in movies as ideology, etc.

                                      I read a book about about 19th century art a while back by an art historian who clearly loathed and detested 19th century art. His only interest in writing the book was to tell us how racist, sexist, homophobic, patriarchal, islamophobic and generally evil 19th century art was. And this wasn't his conclusion from his survey of the art of the period. This was his starting point. These are the kinds of academics who irritate me. Apart from anything else I dislike being told what to think. Academics should surely encourage their readers to think more deeply about the subject in question, rather than telling us what we must think.

                                      But of course not all academics are like this. There are still many excellent academics who write books that treat the reader as an adult rather than a child  who must be instructed in the correct group-think. Academics who can actually inspire the reader to think. I have no problem with his type of academic. Unfortunately I suspect they're becoming an endangered species.

                                      Al
                                    • miketooney49
                                      Al, et al. - It pleasantly surprises me that not every academic has been hostile to detective fiction; Harry Thurston Peck, for instance:
                                      Message 18 of 19 , Feb 9 6:47 AM
                                      • 0 Attachment

                                        Al, et al. - It pleasantly surprises me that not every

                                        academic has been hostile to detective fiction;

                                        Harry Thurston Peck, for instance:


                                        http://carrdickson.blogspot.com/2014/02/unusual-respect-for-detective-fiction.html

                                      • Henrique Valle
                                        Tom Cat, I didn t suppose you were targeting people like Douglas Greene, Mike Nevins or Curt Evans, and I hope my remarks didn t come out as implying that you
                                        Message 19 of 19 , Feb 9 3:19 PM
                                        • 0 Attachment
                                          Tom Cat,

                                          I didn't suppose you were targeting people like Douglas Greene, Mike Nevins or Curt Evans, and I hope my remarks didn't come out as implying that you were! I mentioned them precisely because, knowing they are respected by everybody in this group, I meant to show it is as unfair to make sweeping generalizations of academic criticism of detective fiction as it is to make such generalizations of detective fiction.

                                          Believe me, I've read lots of academic stuff on detective fiction and I know your criticism applies to a significant part of it. So I do not realy disagree with you, just with the generalization.

                                          Henrique


                                          From: Last century Detective <lastcenturydetective@...>
                                          To: "GAdetection@yahoogroups.com" <GAdetection@yahoogroups.com>
                                          Sent: Saturday, February 8, 2014 10:15 AM
                                          Subject: Re: [GAdetection] The Problem of the Ivory Tower

                                           
                                          Henrique,
                                           
                                          I hope you didn't take this as sniping at people like Douglas Greene and Mike Nevins, but merely poking a stick at the type of academics who do make sweeping, generalization statements about GAD fiction. And worst of all, their opinion is usually sourced for other books attempting to explain the history of the genre and I refer you to Curt's recent posts on Lucy Worsley's A VERY BRITISH MURDER: THE STORY OF A NATIONAL OBSESSION to see the result of it. Just a little push back.


                                          On Saturday, February 8, 2014 6:46 AM, curt evans <praed_street@...> wrote:
                                           
                                          Whatever my criticisms, I’m pleased that academics are looking at crime fiction and taking it seriously.  Academics as a group are more respectful of Agatha Christie, for example, than entertainment journalists, I think.
                                           
                                          Curt
                                           
                                          Sent: Friday, February 07, 2014 7:26 PM
                                          Subject: Re: [GAdetection] The Problem of the Ivory Tower
                                           
                                           
                                          Curt, by academics I meant academically trained scholars and not scholars with an academic affiliation, because I suppose the previous criticism was levelled at the academic approach regardless of that affiliation. Although of course one could contend that the affiliation itself may influence the approach in several ways.

                                          Again, I agree that a lot of the criticism being made here is right on spot when applied to certain specific academic studies. I'm just not very comfortable with the generalization it involves. It is also true that misconceptions about detective fiction abound outside of academia -- but this only proves that, in general there is no evil private to the academic studies of detective fiction!

                                          Henrique


                                          From: curt evans <praed_street@...>
                                          To: GAdetection@yahoogroups.com
                                          Sent: Saturday, February 8, 2014 1:02 AM
                                          Subject: Re: [GAdetection] The Problem of the Ivory Tower
                                           
                                           
                                          Jon L. Breen and Bill Ruehlmann have academic backgrounds as well.  There are some good academic studies of detective fiction too.  I probably should be talking about some of them on my blog, but I tend to blog about the books I have issues with!  I would agree it probably does help if you have some enthusiasm for your subject.
                                           
                                          Of course I’m not actually an academic, strictly speaking, because I don’t hold an academic position.  But I do have a Ph.D. in history and I think that Ph.D. reflects training that was of value to me.
                                           
                                          As Mike says, you see misinterpretations of the Golden Age from a lot of sources.  Look at Books to Die For or Talking about Detective Fiction, for example.  Both those book had definite shortcomings in their takes on the GA in my view.  I do agree a lot of academic studies emphasize theory over research in primary sources, which can be problematic.
                                           
                                          Best,
                                           
                                          Curt
                                           
                                          Sent: Friday, February 07, 2014 6:48 PM
                                          Subject: Re: [GAdetection] The Problem of the Ivory Tower
                                           
                                           
                                          Just a quick word in defence of academics.

                                          The accusation that academic scholars of detective fiction make sweeping and oversimplified generalizations of detective fiction seems somewhat incoherent since it is itself based on a sweeping and oversimplified generalization of academics. People highly appreciated and even revered in this forum like Douglas Greene, Mike Nevins, Curt Evans and others are academics. They surely don't identify with the group being targeted here and I'm not sure it would be methodologically sound to treat them as "exceptions" (or that they would be delighted to be singled out as such, for that matter).

                                          I agree to a large extent with the criticism expressed in previous posts on this topic when applied to several specific academic studies of detective fiction I've read, but I would refrain from levelling them at academics in general. This standpoint would only lead me to remain unaware of many valid academic studies of detective fiction, just as narrow-minded academics miss many valid aspects of detective fiction.

                                          Henrique


                                          From: Allan Griffith <dfordoom@...>
                                          To: GAdetection@yahoogroups.com
                                          Sent: Friday, February 7, 2014 12:04 PM
                                          Subject: Re: [GAdetection] The Problem of the Ivory Tower
                                           
                                           
                                          On 7 February 2014 03:22, Mike Detlefsen <mdmeleagro945@...> wrote:


                                          It's not just academics... it's everybody.
                                           
                                          Mike
                                           
                                           
                                          It is to some extent, although academics have the worst cases of it.
                                           
                                          On the other hand there are, in most fields, bands of amateurs (or fans if you like) who often have not only a considerable breadth of knowledge of their chosen genres, but also an often impressive depth of knowledge as well.
                                           
                                          I think it's very hard to write well about any genre (or any subject) unless you have a genuine enthusiasm for it. There are some very bad things about the internet but it does at least allow fellow enthusiasts to communicate, thereby increasing both their knowledge and their enthusiasm.
                                           
                                          It's groups like this one that make me feel that the internet was a worthwhile thing after all.
                                           
                                          Al








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