Monday, April 17, 2006

Academic Racketeering

Warning: It is doubtful that I can do this whole post with no profanity.

I'm sure that everyone out there is aware of what a protection racket is. You pay the mob (err, legitimate businessmans' club) for so-called protection. But you don't have a choice. Well, this is what is going on in academia right now. See, like a bunch of mob bosses, various groups have marked out "territory" in universities. There's the MLA gang, the Chicago gang, the APA gang, and maybe some others too, I don't know.

Instead of paying for protection, these gangs make you buy their style manuals. See, if there was one, unified style that didn't really change, save for new media formats (how does one, for example, cite a podcast), then I could buy that. But nooooooooooo, every has to have their own unique and anal-retentive technique for citing references and doing title pages.


What about an MLA title page would be incomprehensible to an APA person? Like, would they actually not understand what was what? "Oh, so the author was D. Gouge, and that is not the title." The ugly truth is that the more retentive professors are about style, the more brittle they seem. Like, if there was a semi-colon instead of colon between "New York" and "Penguin" would they really have no idea where a book was published or by whom? Besides, these people are supposed to be the experts on their subject. Yet they are too stupid to comprehend the name of a book unless it is done in just the right way? Maybe some of them think that an author named Anna Karenina wrote a book about Leo Tolstoy.

Now maybe this whole formatting racket is just so that students will look professional if they are ever published in some kind of academic journal. But really, how many people in undergraduate programs, or even certain grad programs ever get published? Maybe one percent attain this honour. The rest of us are just wasting our time jumping through fucking hoops. Either that, or too many professors lack the basic general knowledge to determine what is a title, what is a publisher, what is an author, and so on, in relation to their own field of expertise!!!