Monday, November 28, 2011

Scholarship (1)

Bābur remarked in his memoirs about his uncle Sulṭān-Maḥmūd Mīrzā something that I believe applies much too often to many academics, who perhaps under pressure from the Publish or Perish academic paradigm, produce articles and even books that would have benefited from deeper and broader research. Work that suffers, to use a metaphor, from having the teabag not steep long enough in the water.

He wrote that Sulṭān-Maḥmūd Mīrzā "had poetical ability and made a divan, but his poetry was weak and flat. He composed too much; he probably should have composed less” (Bābur-nāmah, tr. Thackston, Modern Library edition, p. 31). Annette Beveridge's translation is perhaps more brutal, but equally apt: "He had a taste for poetry and put a dīwān together but his verse is flat and insipid,--not to compose is better than to compose verse such as his" (AB trans, vol. I p. 46). 

Update: this article was brought to my attention by a Maghribist and I thought it germane to this post.

Lynn Worsham, "Fast Food Scholarship," The Chronicle of Higher Education, December 12, 2011; accessed online December 14, 2011. Available online: <>

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