THE FACULTY FORUM
Volume 10, No. 7 Duke University March 1999
Heagins on the Dark Hallowed Ground
Vesilind on Mentoring
Eylers on the Eighth Liberal Art
Francis Neelon: "Hurricane"
George Elliott Clarke: "Jealousy"
Kuniholm on Internationalization
Neelon on Book-Thievery
Editorial on Book/Tenure Crisis
Visiting Poet: Sharon Olds
Parrot's Recitations (Burke)
DARK HALLOWED GROUND
COMING TO CAMPUS
-- by Titus Heagins
Almost twenty years ago I left Texas. I was happy to go
then, but I didn't know that one day I would miss the land where both the
matriarchal and patriarchal sides of my family had lived since Emancipation.
It wasn't until four years ago, while at a conference at the National Humanities
Center, that I came to realize I was a Southerner. From that moment I began
to wonder why that was so. Certainly being Southern is not only a matter
of birth, because I was born in Chicago, but have lived most of my life
south of the Mason-Dixon Line. It is not a matter of language, because
I speak with a midwestern accent, which is no accent at all. What I have
come to realize is that it is the Southerners' ties to the land that make
us who and what we are.
What I remember about the land are not the hundreds of acres my grandmother owned, nor the cattle that grazed them, but the graveyards alongside dusty roads where my family is buried. The land we all go back to at the end of our struggle. For the past five years images of elderly aunts and uncles, their funerals, and the gatherings afterwards became as clear as polished glass. Whitewashed black churches with cars parked alongside where people gathered around opened trunks with jelly cakes and fried chicken drinking RC Cola after laying to rest friends, lovers, cousins, brothers, and parents. That's when I understood what had to be remembered.
Since I live over a thousand miles from those places familiar to me, I began my mission here. The past ten months I have traveled across North Carolina photographing African American cemeteries. The reason for doing so is twofold--first, to establish a photographic record of these historic and modern familial resting places; and second, to demonstrate through the life stories, written on grave markers, that African Americans have been an integral part of our country for centuries. When I began this project, I simply wanted to create some extraordinary photographs of what was to me an interesting subject. Now I am convinced that this project is much more; it is a link to the lives of those whose stories may only be told in a few lines of carved script. As I have walked these final resting places, I have come to know many things about those who are buried across this state. Most importantly, I have come to understand the importance of my life in respect to time, existence, and ties to a shared past.
"Dark Hallowed Ground" is a photographic study of African American burial sites throughout North Carolina. The study ranges from shots of small rural cemeteries to large urban sites. Many of the smaller sites are less cared for as a result of several factors. First, the fact that a transition of African Americans from rural America to urban population centers not only affects where we live, but the care of the final resting sites for our ancestors. When one generation moves, their offspring has less connection to the remaining people and resting places of their ancestors; familiar neighborhoods become faraway communities. Second, urban renewal, removal, and development encroachment has affected burial sites. Many of the cemeteries are left in isolated spots, where large corporations now surround the landscapes of once historic black neighborhoods and communities. Now those burial places are out of reach because of corporate security fences and the destruction and neglect of neighborhood roads which led to them. Still, these are places which hold the keys to our histories and deserve recognition.
The photography of Dark Hallowed Ground -- which totals to this date approximately 800 images -- is portrayed in black and white images. I would further term the study and exercise as "straight ahead," making reference to the fact that no photographic enhancements were used in the execution. Lighting was natural, without flash, so shadows are what one would find at that time of day when the photograph was taken. All of the sites were captured as they were found and left undisturbed visually as I came upon them. Consequently, there was no movement of any materials from the gravesites, either natural or man-made, whether placed by a wisp of wind or caring hand. In my opinion this focuses this photography clearly on the subject matter, forcing the photographer and camera to be only the recorder of the existing image.
As I have walked about these final resting places, I have come to know many things about those who are buried across our state. I have also become acquainted with tragic events such as those of the Conner family, of Terrell, NC, four of whom died within five days from a flu epidemic in 1920. This experience has also brought joy and cause for celebration on days such as when I discovered and photographed the marker for Sarah Rice, born December 1775, eight months before our first Independence Day, July 4, 1776. There have been also moments of quiet contemplation and reverence as when I stood next to and photographed a burial mound of more than 500 former slaves on the grounds of an airport close to the Atlantic coast.
This experience brought me closer to the lives of former slaves and made more poignant the reality of slavery, whose aftermath many people, both black and white, have chosen to diminish in our country. A larger part of this total project has taken me to photograph burial sites of descendants of Africa throughout the eastern seaboard including the Georgia Sea Isles and Haiti. I also plan to photograph sites in the western mountains and southeastern regions of the state.
Along with the photographs I have also written poetry
and prose about this experience. Some of the work is a reflection of stories
told to me by family members. Other pieces of the work are a result of
inspiration while photographing a burial site. Most important is the fact
that the writings are about the experience of leaving or being left by
someone as a result of death. I have enclosed some of this poetry along
with the photocopies of photographs. Please review these with the realization
that these images are a small part of the whole collection. These may or
may not be the best work in the study; they are some of the first batch
I chose to enlarge for submission.
Dark Hallowed Ground is scheduled for its second exhibition in March '99. This exhibit is hosted by Duke University's Black Church Affairs, Duke Chapel, Duke African and African American Studies Department, and the Mary Lou Williams Center. They will host the entire exhibit of 20 photographs and 10 placards of poetry, prose, and narratives. I am beginning negotiations with the historical site in Old Salem, NC for another exhibition. When more travel dates are arranged the work will endeavor to enlist community participation to bring school children to community cemeteries for history discussions and reclaiming projects. In doing so the work will reunite the youth in African American communities with their elderly neighbors who will serve as oral historians of their communities.
TWO POEMS BY TITUS HEAGINS
WEEP NOT FOR ME
Weep not for me
As eyes put promise to test
By wasted tears filled with salt
To relieve your sorrowed breast
Dream of me, by day and night
Though may it be bitter sweet
I have gone to a place of silence
Sent by eternal love replete
Plant no lilies, nor roses, nor fern
Nor tall majestic pine
To grow in remembrance
Of life and our blissful time
Know this for me
Suffering and want are past
Yet you live by wind and chaos
In imperfect paradise vast.
Life is a residue, left by death
A sporadic void mimicking the vast and true eternity
Never achieving more than madness, illusions, at
Life is an irritable, seething, impotent old man
Arrested in the midst of the shallowest breath
Manipulation of tribulation, to arrive at a meager
Life is filled with stable failures
Awkward successes, impartially in love and finance
Never balanced but plentied with extremes from whiskied
Life is perilous
Bald men, third wives, indiscriminate cries
A thinly veiled window, covered with thick Vaseline
Life twists the darkness
Around our fingers, so we don't feel
Nor realize when shadows have covered our souls.
But to it we cling, over death's fingered smudges
That are across our torso, soon on our souls
Pulling, tugging, us to the shadowland...
Dept of Civil & Environmental Engineering
An earlier form of this paper was presented at the
Graduate Research Education and Teaching Symposium, University of Oklahoma
Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, 1998, and published in the Research
Integrity, a newsletter of Michigan State University.
May Sarton, in her book The Small Room,
observes that "The relation between student and teacher must be about
the most complex and ill-defined there is".2 Sarton's experience
was in a small undergraduate liberal arts college. I suspect that had she
tried mentoring graduate students she would have soon recognized that such
a relationship is even more complex and challenging. The mentor of graduate
students has all the responsibilities of the undergraduate advisor, but
must also facilitate the transformation of the student into a professional.
An undergraduate advisor relinquishes the role when the student graduates.
But with mentoring graduate students, the protégé can (and
often does) stay in contact with the mentor for the rest of his or her
life. In addition, the mentoring process takes place over time during which
the character of the student changes markedly, so the process is not only
complex, but it is dynamic as well.
One way to try to define this relationship might be to suggest what mentoring is not. Mentoring is not paternalism. Paternalism refers to a relationship between unequal parties where the "parent" imposes his or her will on the "child" because the parent supposedly knows far better what is to the child's benefit. Although mentoring has been sometimes unjustly accused as being nothing but paternalism, this is an inaccurate characterization because the relationship between mentor and protégé is a voluntary one -- either party can disengage at any time -- unlike the parent/child relationship.3
But if mentoring is not a paternalistic relationship, what is it? A clue might be found in the origin of the word. The name "mentor" comes to us from Homer's epic the Odyssey. The goddess Athena, worried about the state of Odysseus' household, disguises herself as his trusted friend Mentor in order to advise his son Telemachus. Most likely then, the translation of "mentor" from classical Greek is closest in meaning to "advisor" in English. But the modern meaning of mentoring is more complex.
If we search for analogies, the coach/players relationship might be a model. The coach and players all work hard, and the coach succeeds when the players win. Or perhaps the mentor/protégé relationship is more like a master craftsman/apprentice relationship, where the craftsman, if the apprenticeship is successful, has helped to produce another craftsman who would be competitive in the skill of the craft.
There is something mysterious about this process of intentionally creating competition. Social Darwinism would suggest that the master would have no economic advantage in passing on the secrets of the craft. There are in fact a few cases in history where professionals have been loathe to pass on their knowledge. Perhaps the most notorious case occurred in the 1600's when two brothers, both named Peter Chamberlen, attained a reputation for being able to assist women in difficult labor. Their services were sought by the rich and powerful, and they amassed great personal wealth. Because they insisted on performing the operations unassisted, rumors developed that they were in possession of a secret that greatly facilitated childbirth. In fact, the secret that the Chamberlens refused to share was that of the obstetrical forceps.
The secret continued to be jealously guarded until a son, Hugh Chamberlen, sold the secret to the Amsterdam Medical College, which sold licenses to physicians for large sums of money. Eventually two physicians at the medical college, believing that withholding such information was criminal, revealed the secret. But Chamberlen had the last laugh. The secret Hugh Chamberlen had sold was a totally worthless one half of obstetrical forceps. The unwillingness of the Chamberlens to share such knowledge with students and colleagues (even after its "sale" to the College) must have resulted in the death and suffering of countless women and infants.4
But this is a most unusual case. In perhaps millions of other mentor/protégé interactions the mentor takes joy in watching the protégé succeed. Such "laying on of hands" is characteristic of the professions. We recently had the local American Society of Civil Engineers chapter meet at Duke. These practicing engineers came to the campus mostly to have a chance to get to know the students and offer their advice and expertise in their professional development. I asked them during the meeting why it was they took time away from their jobs to volunteer to come talk to engineering students. As I suspected, they had not given this much thought. It simply is what you do as a professional engineer. It's part of your heritage -- your dept to pay to the people who helped you in your own path to professional engineering.
So how do you become an effective mentor of graduate students? Perhaps we can simply list the attributes of good mentors and tell you to do that. This approach is not without precedent. The widely distributed recent book from the National Academy of Sciences, Adviser, Teacher, Role Model, Friend, takes this approach.5 For example, it gives advice for new mentors:
---- Listen patiently.
---- Build relationship.
---- Don't abuse your authority.
---- Nurture self-sufficiency.
---- Establish "protected time" together.
---- Share yourself.
---- Provide introductions.
---- Be constructive.
---- Don't be overbearing.
---- Find your own mentors.
I always find such lists unsatisfying. Telling you what
the characteristics of a good mentor are is like telling you how to ride
---- Sit down on the seat.
---- Grasp the handlebars.
---- Pedal with your feet.
These are all good instructions, but of little value without actually getting on the bicycle and trying it out. And the rules on riding a bicycle are useful only if you really did want to learn to ride the beast. If you have no interest is becoming a good mentor then this paper is of little use to you and you probably would not be reading it anyway.
The mentor as friend
Some leaders in the collegiate teaching profession advise
strongly about maintaining a strict business-like relationship between
the student protégé and the professor mentor. A professor
should not have any casual relationships with students, that such
relationships "conflict with our fundamental obligations as professors,"6and
the ethics of the relationship require that the professor remain "dispassionate",
avoiding any appearance of partiality. The professor should "not seek
to be their psychiatrist, friend, or lover."7
I firmly agree about the psychiatrist and lover part, but I am not sure about the evil of friendships between students and professors. Too often we tend to be overly cautious and to keep students at a distance, not offering them the encouragement and support they need. One educator has observed that "there are far too many students in our courses for whom learning has been a humiliating experience.... It is remarkable in how many ways teachers unwittingly exacerbate [students'] lack of self-esteem."8 One way of encouraging students to higher levels of achievement is to offer friendship as a part of the professorial role.
Richard Baker, in a wonderful critique of the book A Small Room by May Sarton, presents a convincing case for friendship between professor and student. There are times and situations, he argues, where friendship is exactly what is needed in the mentoring relationship. Such a friendship does not have to be destructive or result in unjust impartiality. A small note of encouragement, a friendly gesture, making time during a busy schedule for "hanging out", asking an underachieving student to chat, answering e-mail, paying attention to their extracurricular activities and achievements,. . . these are all indicators of friendship, and they mean a great deal to students. As Baker concludes, "The key ethical point. . . is that the professor -- both inside and outside the classroom -- should act as a friend."9
But there is a difference between "friend" and "pal". The teacher/professor/mentor has a special power relationship with the student and the professor will be called on to evaluate performance and to do this "dispassionately." An advisor or mentor cannot be a pal, shooting hoops with students and drinking beer afterwards, or joining them in dancing the night away at a sorority ball. A professor trying to be a pal will destroy the fragile relationship between student and professor that is such an integral part of education.
The mentor's relationship with the protégé
must be student-specific because different students need different kinds
of mentoring. Sometimes these needs are obvious, but often they are not.
To get started, some gross generalizations are useful. For example, there
is a significant gender difference in what undergraduate students expect
from an advisor, as shown in the table below. I suspect this holds for
graduate student mentors as well.
WHAT STUDENTS EXPECT FROM AN ADVISOR10
Fraction of men and women students who expect an advisor
...take time to know me personally. 30 72
...share my interests so that we have
something in common. 31 58
...know where to send me to get information. 48 51
...know the facts about the courses. 64 43
...make concrete and directive suggestions.
Female students, on average, expect the advisor to get to know them as a person and to establish a working relationship. Male students, on average, want to just get the facts, ma'am, and depend on the advisor to be right about the facts.
Although this table shows a statistically stunning difference between what men and women expect from an advisor, we have to be careful about unwarranted generalization. More men than women want concrete and directive suggestions, but a significant fraction of women still expect such help. Similarly, one third of the men expect the professor to take the time to get to know them personally. What this means is that the advisor cannot easily predict, based on some characteristics such as gender, how best to serve the students' needs. All students should be treated as individuals by allowing them to set the tone for what the relationship will be like. It is usually best to allow the student to lead the way.
The toxic mentor
The relationship between the mentor and protégé can be a mutually satisfying and even rewarding one, but it can also be the cause of great anguish and pain. Perhaps it is wise to ask if the mentor/protégé system is a good one, or if some other system would be better. Consider, taking the lead from John Rawls, an "original position"11 of both professors and students in a department where every faculty member is to advise every student equally. With time, would the students not seek out one or several professors with whom they have the greatest rapport and whose advice they begin to value? And would the professors not begin to identify those students they most would like to work with and in whom they see the greatest potential? In other words, the "original position" is an unstable situation, and students will eventually migrate to those professors who they most want to have as their mentors. It therefore appears that the mentor/protégé system is a natural outcome and is not one that is synthetically imposed on us.
Ideally, therefore, the student becomes a professor's protégé by mutual consent. But the world is often not ideal, and professors can become mentors by other means. For example, the availability of funds can force a student to choose to change a primary advisor, or the professor may leave the university, again forcing a change in advisors. Finally, the process is dynamic and a relationship that seemed to be excellent in the beginning of the student's program can sour as new responsibilities and requirements are imposed. Thus it is possible for students to have what Stephanie Bird calls toxic mentors.12
A few years ago I took part in a semester-long workshop on gender issues in graduate science and engineering. A group of female graduate students and another group of male graduate students discussed their concerns with a facilitator and this person brought these concern to us the faculty, and returned to the two groups with our comments. What we the faculty heard from the graduate students were complaints about the actions of faculty. But we could not relate to such actions, and eventually came to the conclusion that there appear to be a lot of jerks out there -- professors who simply have no interpersonal skills and do not know how to treat other people with respect. Often these professors developed toxic relationships with their students. We also discovered that the problems faced by the women were almost identical to those encountered by the men, but the men were able to shrug off the personal problems while the women often internalized and personalized them.
But there also were specific cases relating to gender. In one case, the mentor prominently displayed mildly suggestive pictures of women in his office. The female graduate students were unable to convince the professor that the pictures made them feel uncomfortable, and eventually they went to the departmental chair and asked him to intercede, which he did. The pictures came down, but the relationship between the students and the advisor was poisoned. The professor did not understand that the pictures were inappropriate and resented the students going to the chair with their concerns. In this particular case the relationship between the senior graduate student and the professor deteriorated to the point where she did not even ask him for a letter of recommendation when she sought academic work after graduation. The chair had to write a letter of explanation as to why no such recommendation from the primary advisor was forthcoming.
Students caught in a trap with a toxic mentor can either suck it up and graduate fast or try to change the primary advisor. Neither is easily done. Many faculty believe that they make investments in students and that the student should then show loyalty in not shopping around for a new primary advisor, taking the news of disloyal behavior personally and often vindictively. But sticking it out is equally destructive to both the mentor and protégé. The best advice would be to put off the decision to choose the advisor for as long as possible to get a better sense of what mentoring skills various faculty have.
The university's role in improving the quality of mentoring
The university can enhance the mentoring skills of its faculty by establishing programs organized through the graduate schools. A number of universities have developed such programs, including Syracuse University, the University of Michigan, Wayne State University, the University of California at Berkeley, and California State University in Fresno.13 Some insights from these programs might be useful:
1. Universities should establish policies that would allow graduate students to have the option of selecting separate mentors for research and teaching even if not all students want this freedom and not all faculty members accept this role division.
2. The graduate school must be the focal point for establishing a mentoring program. These programs can not be established and maintained on a departmental basis.
3. The university should provide rewards and appropriately recognize faculty participation in a mentor training program.
4. Members of the graduate school dean's office must develop regular feed-back sessions with students. At the University of Michigan each department is regularly evaluated and the process always begins by asking the graduate students for their opinions on what is happening in the department.
5. The university should create awards for exemplary mentoring. At Wayne State University, an award was inaugurated for the Outstanding Graduate Mentor, patterned after one at Arizona State University. The Wayne State award requires a nominating letter from the departmental chair, a statement from the nominee accepting the nomination and stating his or her philosophy on mentoring, and at least three letters from present or past graduate students. The first year the competition was held, over fifty-two nominations were received! And although only three letters of support were required, two of the nominees received letters from over fifty past and present students! The university publishes and distributes to all faculty and graduate students the winner's nominating letter and the statement by the nominee, as well as excerpts from the supporting letters.
6. Mentoring should become part of the tenure and promotion process. At the present time, at Duke, the tenure dossier contains undergraduate student evaluations but there is no input from graduate students. Letters should be solicited from past graduate students asking their opinions on mentoring and these letters should be included as part of the dossier.
7. All PhD students should be asked to complete exit surveys, asking them to assess the experience they have had with their mentors and other faculty in their department.
These are all good ideas and if implemented can no doubt improve the mentoring process at any university. But we have to be realistic. If a faculty member, especially a senior faculty member, does not wish to spend time helping students, then there is little a university can do to improve the situation. Mentoring does not come from a guidebook, a set of rules, or even incentives. Mentoring comes from the heart. Ya gotta love it. It's kinda like the old saying: "Never try to teach a pig to sing. It won't work and it annoys the pig."
When does mentoring cease? Do the protégés, upon graduation, break the umbilical cord and trundle off on their own? I suggest that this actually never happens. A mentor is like a tattoo. A mentor is with you forever. Whatever becomes of you professionally, you will always be known as "so-and-so's student."
As proof, I offer the difficulty former graduate students have in calling their mentors by their first name. It took me ten years after graduation before I could muster up the courage to call my mentor, Dr. Daniel Okun14 by his first name. Why not, I kept telling myself. I was a professor just like he was, and he probably would have liked the more familiar salutation. But there was something that prevented the conversion to the familiar. He is a special person. Always will be. He is my mentor.
There is a lovely story in one of the Chicken Soup
for the Soul books.15 It goes like this:
One night a group of nomads were preparing to retire for the evening when suddenly they were surrounded by a great light. They knew they were in the presence of a celestial being. With great anticipation, they awaited a heavenly message of great importance that they knew must be especially for them.
Finally, the voice spoke.
Gather as many pebbles as you can. Put them in your saddle bags. Travel a day's journey and tomorrow night will find you glad and it will find you sad.
After the light departed, the nomads shared their disappointment and anger with each other. They had expected the revelation of a great universal truth that would enable them to create wealth, health and purpose for the world. But instead they were given a menial task that made no sense to them at all. However, the memory of the brilliance of their visitor caused each one to pick up a few pebbles and deposit them in their saddle bags while voicing their displeasure.
They traveled a day's journey and that night while making
camp, the reached into their saddle bags and discovered every pebble they
had gathered had become a diamond. They were glad they had diamonds. They
were sad they had not gathered more pebbles. Our job as professors is to
encourage our students to fill their saddlebags with pebbles, and we hope
they all turn into diamonds.
1 An earlier form of this paper was presented
at the Graduate Research Education and Teaching Symposium, University of
Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, 1998, and published in
the Research Integrity, a newsletter of the Michigan State
2 May Sarton The Small Room W. W. Norton & Co., New York, 1961
3 Joan Callahan "Academic Paternalism" in A Professor's Duties Peter J. Markie (partially edited), Rowman & Littlefield, London, 1994
4 D. T. Atkinson Magic, Myths and MedicineThe World, Cleveland OH 1956
5 Adviser, Teacher, Role Model, Friend National
Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute
of Medicine, Washington DC, 1997
6 Peter Markie A Professor's Duties Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham MD, 1994, p. 74
7 Stephen Cahn Saints and Sinners: Ethics in AcademiaRowman & Littlefield, Totowa NH, 1986, p. 35
8 Joseph Katz "Does Teaching Help Students Learn?" in B. A. Kimball (ed) Teaching Undergraduates Prometheus Books, Buffalo NY, 1988 p. 177
9 Richard Baker Jr. "Ethics of Student-Faculty Friendship" in Ethical Dimensions of College and University Teaching: Understanding and Honoring the Special Relationship Between Teachers and StudentsLinc. Fisch (ed) New Directions for Teaching and Learning, number 66, summer 1996, p. 32
10 R. J. Light The Harvard Assessment Seminars Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA, 1990
11 John Rawls A Theory of JusticeBelnap
Press, Cambridge 1971
12 Stephanie Bird, MIT, at a seminar on mentoring for women in science, Duke University, 1997.
13 N. A. Gaffney (Ed) A Conversation About Mentoring: Trends and Models, Council of Graduate Schools, Washington DC, 1995
14 Former chair of the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
15 John Wayne Schlatter, quoted in A Second Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul, Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, Health Communications, Deerfield Beach FL, 1995
The Eighth Liberal Art
--John P. Eylers, Ph.D.
Department of Zoology
On December 2, 1998 the National Science Foundation released an Issue Brief by Alan I. Rapoport entitled "How has the field mix of academic R&D changed?" (NSF 99-309). It contains some very sobering news for anyone concerned about the future of biological sciences at Duke. On the surface all would seem to be well. Both the medical and biological subdivisions of the Life Sciences showed real (constant dollar) increases in funding over the period from 1973 to 1996 (Figure 1, line graph). When measured as a fraction of the entire national R&D effort, however, we find that the percentage allocated to medical research has grown steadily since 1980 whereas the biological sciences quickly lost ground and never made it up (Figure 1, bar graph).
Whether this bodes well for the Republic is a political
question, but given that the trend is driven by Federal R&D moneys
it probably reflects the perceived desires of an electorate that is more
interested in a cure for disease than a cure for ignorance. Perhaps they
are correct; biological needs do precede cognitive needs in Maslow's hierarchy
and are of immediate concern to more people, but a university's strategy
for development should not reflect their judgment alone. Problems arise
when the administration begins to view research as a source of income rather
than an intellectual exercise. From this perspective it makes perfect sense
to shift in-house resources toward the types of research most likely to
generate big grants. After all, increasing the staff of a biology (anthropology,
botany, zoology, or whatever) department cannot raise income nearly as
well as promoting medical research, either now or in any future extrapolated
from present trends.
In this regard it is interesting to note that after receiving an initial boost in 1980, Environmental Science (an entirely separate category from Life Science) has been on a downward course more rapid than biology's ever since. If there is to be retrenchment in the biological sciences, can the much touted Nicholas School of the Environment be far behind? So, if we wish to make an argument for the value of biology at Duke it cannot be on the grounds of increased income potential. Good! I have always been uncomfortable with a system which rates ideas on their "market value". It is not what my teachers taught me. What then can be said in favor of supporting and promoting biology? Let me tell you a story.
Several years ago I taught a course in general biology for undergraduates who were not biology majors. After the final exam a young man, whom I had often observed sitting way in the back of the room, came to me and said: "I'm an art major. I took this course because I had to. I thought it would be dull as a stone, but it turned out to be one of the most enjoyable courses I've ever taken...." At this point I was feeling really pleased because I have always believed that I could make biology interesting to anyone if I approached the task with enthusiasm; I call it entertaining people with ideas. But I was just about bowled over when he next said: "...and it has changed the way I do my art."
If the goal of a liberal education is to give the student a broad perspective on life and the basic tools with which to live well, then biological sciences must be an integral part of any twenty-first century curriculum. Biology is unique among the natural sciences in that it is the most eclectic. To understand life you must grasp principles of physics, chemistry, and mathematics. Geology and history are fundamental too. If indeed there is any real connection between history and physics it is through biology. Many of the finest examples of science as literature in this or any age have been expositions on biological themes. Modern biology has been responsible for the most far reaching changes in human perceptions and values since the invention of agriculture and urban life ten thousand years ago, and it can be argued that a philosopher who is ignorant of biology is not equipped to scale the intellectual heights accessible to the twentieth century mind.
There are practical advantages to studying biology as well. Everyone has a body, and a knowledge of basic physiology is absolutely essential to taking charge of one's own health. And should one manage to avoid biology in the doctor's office, it is there in the workplace. Does your company develop land, manufacture drugs, deal in food and agricultural products, produce toxic chemicals, provide health insurance? Biological issues are deeply embedded in all manner of economic decisions, and a decision made in ignorance can be disastrous. A course in general biology open to one and all is the single most important offering a biology department can make. Biology is truly the eighth liberal art.
But what about a career? If an education doesn't result in a "good job" isn't it a waste of time? This to me is the saddest argument for retrenchment because it reflects the fact that we are forgetting what an education is for. I am a biologist. I don't have a career, I have a life. What makes that life worth living is that it is an examined life, and the basis of that examination is the world view I have acquired studying biology. And I am not talking about trivial issues like "paper or plastic". I am talking about major decisions such as where to live, what work to do, whom to marry, and how to raise my child. There are plenty of people out there who have good jobs but terrible lives. I too have made mistakes, but I have never been mistaken when I have applied the lessons I learned from biology.
So then, what constitutes a thorough education in biology? In an advertising supplement to Science, 14 August 1998, there appeared a list of the "hottest fields in the biopharma (sic) industry" which are available for study at Duke. While the list looks rather impressive, it is quite clear to any biologist that there is nothing on it which is not medically related. A ten minute search of the web sites for Biological Anthropology and Anatomy, Botany, and Zoology (all proper biological sciences) revealed the following specialties which were not on the list: behavior, biogeochemistry, biogeography, biomechanics, chromosome biology, developmental biology, ecology, entomology, evolution, fossils, functional morphology, herpetology, historical geology, invertebrate zoology, limnology, mammology, marine biology, oceanography, ornithology, paleontology, paleoecology, photobiology, physiology (plant and animal), population biology, primatology, systematics, theoretical biology, tropical rain forest conservation, and vertebrate zoology. Neglecting to mention at least a few of these reveals a bias in the thinking of those who should have a broader view of what constitutes "unlimited opportunities" in biology. To restrict the range to those sub-disciplines which are medically related would be to gut biological science of its true core and deprive students of access to an intellectual tradition which is both wide and deep.
I remember that one of the happiest moments of my college career was when I found out there was such a thing as graduate school and that I could be a biologist without having to spend the rest of my life around sick people. Had I been told at the time that Duke was a medical factory and not the home (then as now) of a highly diverse and internationally recognized association of real biologists, I would have given it a pass. As it is, I not only studied biology but was also encouraged to learn about art and history and many other subjects not normally associated with the education of a scientist. A few years back, when I was having difficulty finding employment as a biologist, one of my teachers asked me if I had any regrets about spending all that time on my education. How can one answer such a question? Should I say that yes, in light of my diminished earning potential I should wish to be returned to the state of ignorance I occupied before? What nonsense. Anyone who desires to learn anything should be encouraged to do so, as we can use all the educated people we can get in a democracy, even if they are working construction. As an alumnus of this institution I view with alarm any restructuring that would reduce the possibility for future generations of students to receive the quality education I did.
What to do? When I last addressed you on related matters I counseled resistance to the restrictions being placed on our inquiries by the mechanisms of grantsmanship. However, resistance is just the first step because digging in our heels can only slow progress in the direction of travel. To go somewhere else we must also exert a positive force. We can begin by considering all the other disciplines which intersect with biology. History is an obvious one, biology and astronomy being the two basic sciences with a substantial historical component. Art is also close in that aesthetics, like everything else human, must have a biological element (as my student discovered). Cultural anthropology and physical anthropology are opposite sides of the same coin. Biology is a natural philosophy. Any meaningful sociological theory must include biological factors, and economics shares a substantial body of mathematics with biology. A science journalist cannot learn everything he or she needs to know from the English department. The possibilities for combining biology with the humanities to generate intellectually fruitful collaborations are limited only by the imagination.
And we should not overlook the much maligned B.A. in Biology. Traditionally this has been considered to be a fallback for those who are not able to complete a pre-medical program, but, if treated with the respect it deserves, it could be an excellent preparation for a career in law, business, or politics. Especially politics. Imagine what legislation would be like if every Congressman were as respectful of biology as of economics. To move toward greater integration of biology and the humanities we must do new things both individually and collectively. As an individual you should pick your favorite humanity and find someone in that department with whom you can collaborate on a research project or a new course offering. As a group we must think hard about restructuring our curriculum to accommodate this new initiative.
A general biology course for non-majors should never be, as it so often is, an abbreviated version of the majors' course with the numbers taken out. That will not do. We must create new approaches in which the meaning of a fact is just as important as the fact itself. Of course there are risks associated with this plan, so let me give you one final piece of advice based on my study of biology. If everyone around you is doing X because the consensus is that X is the best way to deal with current conditions, you should do Y. First of all, there will be less competition. Second, when conditions change, and they will change, you just might find yourself at the head of a new line. Anyone averse to intellectual risk taking will not be part of the new age.
-- by Francis A. Neelon, M.D. (Medical Center)
For my sister, killed while still
The day of the night of the storm came up on us unawares.
Then as now, summer's hurricanes hovered heavy on the
horizon. Always distant; removed; thunder without flood.
At dusk on the night of the storm, the spiral clouds wept down
rain like the merciful dew from heaven. The sodden earth
quivered under the watery burden.
In the middle of the night of the storm, the humming horricano
slipped in as we slept, soft as the voice of God. How could we
in our beds know the agony of the oaks, the silent terror of
trees bent to the will of the wind?
The morning of the day after the storm we saw the world
upturnedthe finest oak of all crissed across the road, its roots
clawing the air, the earth agape, gutters cluttered with its
I had thought such storms Darwin's winnowing fan, culling the
weak, leaving the strong. Instead, the best of trees ruined the
land: the heavenbound and glorious, all crashed.
The day after the night of the storm, the sun shone on
previously shadowed ground. And there, where our oak had
fallen, something astonishing: a hole in the green and leafy sky
that would not heal, that we could not mend.
EdNote: The foregoing poem was first published in the
Journal of the American Medical Association 1997; 278.
--by George Elliott Clarke (English)
a' la maniere de Saavedra
I could whip the wind
for daring to splay
your silver virgin hair.
I could blind the sun
for eyeing you so hotly,
I could pummel the rain
for so libertinely
moistening your face.
I could jail the vulgar air
for always stepping
so bodily between us.
I could behead the roses
for snatching their scent
from you as you pass.
I could burn the grass
that dews your feet
without my permission.
And those white sheets
that clasp you all night?
Why, I could strangle them!
Mission, Vision and Goals for Internationalization
--by Bruce Kuniholm
Office of the Vice Provost for Academic and International Affairs
March 1, 1999
According to the 1995 report Duke University in
an Interdependent World, the success of global initiatives at Duke
requires "leadership, coordination, and general oversight to provide
direction, a sense of common purpose, and a firm pursuit of designated
priorities." To that end, the report called for the creation of the
Office of the Vice Provost for Academic and International Affairs, to be
headed by "a leader and an advocate for international studies inside
and outside the University" who would have at his disposal "substantial
resources to enhance and encourage internationalization." The historical
changes that provide a context for Duke's emphasis on internationalization
are discussed in the next section.
With the end of the Cold War, the world has undergone a sea-change. This sea change has swept away a half-century of world views that reinforced the state system and defined the world by an East-West axis. The consequence of this sea-change has been an unleashing of forces -- economic, religious, ethnic, and others (e.g., communications) -- that pose both an opportunity and a challenge to the traditional nation states. An opportunity in the sense that these forces provide a mechanism for states to improve their situation in the world; a challenge in the sense that these same forces may jeopardize the ability of some nation states to determine their own policies and safeguard the welfare of their citizens, and in some cases may even threaten the viability and integrity of the state itself.
It is for this reason that the opportunities and challenges of economic interdependence, to cite but one example, raised such fierce debates both in Europe (over Maastricht) and in North America (over NAFTA). What applies to economics, also applies to religion and ethnicity. In a sense, the end of the Cold War, freeing people from the ideological strait-jacket of the Cold War, has opened the way to an international identity crisis where people are struggling to think about how they define themselves, and how they want their countries to position themselves relative to these forces.
In this environment, those who want to survive and thrive need to understand that they are no longer merely citizens of nation states. In this environment, survival requires a sensitivity to, an awareness of, a capacity to operate in an interdependent world where nations are no longer the masters of their own fates (at least to the extent that they believed they were in the past) and individuals are part of an increasingly global society.
The implications of these changes for institutions responsible for education is that students need greater interaction with different peoples and cultures. Knowledge of different cultures and languages is critical to their development as human beings, to their professional lives, and to their capacity to fulfill their responsibilities not just as citizens of countries where they happen to be born, but as citizens of an increasingly global society. When students graduate, they should expect to spend more time abroad as part of their professional lives. They should know other cultures and expect to interact with people from different backgrounds. They should also have a better understanding of the broad international forces that affect all of our lives. Our responsibility at Duke is to furnish them with the resources that meet the challenges of an increasingly interdependent world where knowledge has no boundaries and in which, as Duke graduates, they will have great responsibility for how the world is shaped.
III. Philosophy and Vision
The Office of the Provost, in order to provide direction
and a sense of common purpose for global initiatives at Duke, supports
a wide array of international activities. Underlying all of these efforts
is the philosophy that:
(1) The University must connect its students to the world. A Duke education must prepare each graduate for global citizenship, regardless of the profession he or she might enter.
To meet this goal, international students should be broadly represented in the student body; the curriculum should reflect the broad spectrum of international concerns; teaching and research at Duke -- and Duke's programs abroad -- should make it possible for students to acquire detailed knowledge of specific regions and countries (as well as their languages), and the capacity to recognize common problems that transcend geographic boundaries; and departments should make a concerted effort to hire international faculty who constitute a vital resource for cross cultural perspectives both by their presence and by the way they shape the classroom experience. We have made progress on all of these fronts in the last few years, but we have a lot yet to accomplish.
(2) Internationalization efforts should strengthen our existing programs and research while building in new areas. We must pursue global initiatives on two simultaneous, and mutually reinforcing fronts.
First, we should encourage excellence in our university-wide area studies centers, in the specific international programs housed within schools and departments, and in our library holdings, which are essential to support our research mission.
Second, we should support new international projects and research activities that reach across schools, departments and disciplines, as well as across continents to major universities in other countries. While such collaboration is more easily fostered in the social sciences and humanities, we need to make a special effort to do so in the sciences as well. We see this mission as interactive with, and mutually supportive of, that of the new office of the Vice Provost for Inter-Disciplinary Studies. To that end, Duke's new international efforts are built on a vision that is supported by two strong "pillars":
--The first pillar would include initiatives that organize faculty and students around common geographic interests, so that Duke can build on its local and regional expertise in area studies. The end of the Cold War has generated serious debate within the academy on the role of area studies (itself a product of the Cold War). We continue to believe in the value of area studies, with its emphasis on culture and identity. Our area studies programs have been very successful in getting support from the federal government and we see area studies as a critical building block for internationalization. But we also see area studies as the beginning point from which we can explore an emerging paradigm shift (perhaps as significant as the advent of "cultural studies" in literature) into innovative and inter-disciplinary approaches that are connective and contextual, which build on area studies but which provide additional insight into the traditional, somewhat more bounded perspectives of area studies. An important example is the "Oceans Connect" project, funded by the Ford Foundation, which aims to focus scholarly attention across the geographic borders that have existed between traditional area studies, and across the disciplinary borders that have separated the social sciences and humanities; which aims to shift the primary focus of attention from identity to interconnection, to the ways that ocean basins connect people, rather than on the ways that national borders divide them.
The second pillar would encompass projects that focus on broad, global or thematic issues which cross geographic boundaries. Two examples are the "Globalization and Equity" seminar, funded by the Mellon Foundation, in which scholars are examining the political and social impacts of recent economic change in countries around the world, and the "Globalization and Democratic Governance" project, which would unite scholars from various schools and departments for research on themes of common interest: the mutual effects of globalization and democracy and the role of international institutions. Another example is the Program on Asian Security Studies, which is looking at common security problems in the Pacific, and another is a new, inter-disciplinary and international initiative on environmental law and policy. Other examples might involve such issues as migration, ethnic conflict and communication.
--The keystone of the vision of internationalization (which is supported by and connects these two pillars) encourages synergy and interaction among all who seek to bring global perspectives to Duke but particularly among those whose research looks at local and regional issues on the one hand, and those whose research addresses broad thematic issues on the other. In some ways, the distinction is artificial in that scholars who focus on broad thematic issues are not without grounding in particular areas, and area studies faculty are sensitive to many of the broader thematic issues that tie their areas to others. But the distinction is worth making because it emphasizes a dominant perspective, and modern scholarship requires a better understanding of the relationship between global and local perspectives. Whether we devote financial resources to research, conferences, travel, or course development, our aim would be to seed those endeavors which promise and deliver collaboration among faculty and students with different perspectives and from various schools, departments, centers and programs both within the University and abroad.
IV. Recent Accomplishments
The decentralized structure of international programs
at Duke -- and the entrepreneurial initiatives of our faculty -- have characterized
and spurred internationalization. The Provost's office provides coordination
and/or critical funding that can energize and subsidize ongoing efforts,
and nurture new ideas in their earliest phases. We seek to support and
facilitate synergy among area studies centers and international programs
within departments and schools, each of which has its own budget and defines
its own priorities.
Support from the Office of the Provost has been pivotal to the success of a number of recent endeavors. Leadership, staff support and/or funding from our office have made the difference for numerous efforts to bring international perspectives to the University. Our office has:
(1) supported efforts to enhance students' international experience at Duke and abroad, by improving foreign language teaching at Duke, strengthening our study abroad programs, increasing the number of international students at Duke, and funding international research and internships for our undergraduate and graduate students;
(2) provided matching funds and staff support to help ensure the continued renewal of Department of Education Title VI grants to Duke's Center for European Studies, Program in Latin American Studies, North American Studies Program, and Center for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies (it intends to do the same in the coming year with the development of Title VI applications by the Center for International Studies, the African and African-American Studies Program, and the Committee on South Asian Studies);
(3) helped faculty to develop grant proposals that resulted in the Mellon Foundation's challenge grant for Latin American Studies, the Ford Foundation's seed grant for the "Oceans Connect" project (a follow-up proposal has just been submitted), a series of Mellon grants for Sawyer Seminars in international studies, a Rockefeller Foundation proposal for cultural studies, and the "Globalization and Democratic Governance" project;
(4) co-funded enrichment opportunities that helped to connect Duke faculty and students to the world, including distinguished lectureships, international conferences, visiting professorships, and travel;
(5) projected Duke's image abroad and forged partnerships with foreign universities through trips to Italy (Venice International University), Tunisia (Tunis I), Turkey (Koc University), Israel (Ben Gurion University), France, Great Britain, Germany and Taiwan. We have supported the Fuqua School's partnership with Qinghua University in China, as well as the Asian International University initiative in Thailand (which is currently on hold), and are exploring other relationships with major international universities. Our office assisted in the planning for President Keohane's trip to Asia last year and her trip to Mexico this year;
(6) raised funds for international projects and worked with our colleagues in University Development to identify new prospective donors and targets of opportunity. In this task, we have collaborated with the Provost's Advisory Committee on Internationalization.
V. Fund-raising Goals for Internationalization
At present, the Office of the Vice Provost administers
a budget based on soft money which comes from the Provost and the President.
Our goal for the forthcoming campaign is to raise funds totaling $15-20
million that would replace and augment this source of funding. Such resources
would give our office the permanent capacity to encourage international
perspectives in teaching and research at Duke, as well as partnerships
abroad, through a strategy that would continue to combine strong leadership
with respect for Duke's decentralized administrative structure. Funds raised
would underwrite two distinct, yet mutually reinforcing, types of global
initiatives at Duke:
(1) $5-10 million to keep our current international programs strong. Operating support and annual endowment income would subsidize core activities, salaries and infrastructure for Duke's existing area studies centers, and international programs and services. The most pressing needs in this category include support for the strategic hiring of administrative and outreach staff; space for our expanding programs; development of courses on topics of emerging interest to students and faculty; support for graduate student overseas research; matching funds for conferences and visiting international faculty; and the development of partnerships with counterparts abroad. When possible, our office would encourage Duke departments to consider international needs and priorities when making new faculty hires.
(2) $10 million to support our vision for the future. Resources in this category would enable us to reinforce the two strong "pillars" on which Duke's new international efforts rest.
Reaching our Goal
To achieve the goals outlined in this document, the Office
of the Provost will:
(1) Continue to work with our counterparts throughout the University to build upon our current strengths. In addition to supporting the efforts described above, we will work with the Dean of Undergraduate Studies and the Office of Foreign Academic Programs to consolidate and strengthen Duke's study abroad programs, making these seamless with the rest of the Duke experience. In particular we will work to modify and eventually effect a proposed Tuition Equalization Policy that should have a major impact on undergraduate education as well as on the percentage of internationals in our undergraduate student body. We are developing resources for financial aid for international undergraduate scholarships (the Ambassador Duke International Scholarships Program). We have helped to restructure the International Office and will assist in the oversight of its activities. We will ensure that International House has sufficient resources to accommodate the needs of the increasing number of international students on campus. With the Center for International Studies, we will coordinate the Phillips, Rudnick and von der Heyden lectureships and other activities which bring distinguished international visitors to Duke. We will continue to support efforts to improve undergraduate foreign language proficiency through enhanced language classes and "capstone" courses for study abroad returnees. On the graduate level, we are seeking ways to improve language proficiency in lesser taught languages and on the research level are supporting efforts by the Center for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies to become a National Language Resource Center.
(2) Serve as a source of "venture capital" for new international opportunities. The Vice Provost's office plays a key role in providing seed money which can be invested quickly and with minimal bureaucratic impediments to get good ideas off the ground in their critical early stages. Often the modest awards that we make to such projects are just enough to help a good idea bud -- and to give the faculty involved the momentum to seek additional funding from other sources so that their projects can flower and grow. We will continue to serve this facilitative function, collaborating closely with the International Affairs Committee and the recently created Internationalization Sub-Committee of the Deans' Council. Working with these groups, we expect to develop new initiatives and obtain feedback on our progress in working with the wider university community.
(3) Bring international funding opportunities to the attention of donors and alumni, and keep them informed of our goals and priorities. We will continue to increase our networking with foundations and alumni interested in supporting international projects at Duke. We will continue to engage the Provost's Advisory Committee for Internationalization in our efforts, seeking the input of committee members as we set goals and priorities. We will meet regularly with our colleagues in the Alumni Office to coordinate the university's international outreach activities; we will work with University Development to help match alumni and other prospective donors with international opportunities related to their interests and capacity to give. We will develop a web site that links up with data bases across the university to provide an up-to-date resource for understanding Duke's international expertise, activities, and travel. The addition of Peter Jesse to the Development team should invigorate Duke's efforts to fund-raise for international initiatives. While we hope to reach our ambitious target of raising $15-20 million in operating support and endowment funds, we will also identify projects and activities for which even modest gifts would make a significant difference.
(4) Seek to develop close partnerships with major universities throughout the world, with a view to raising Duke's international profile on the five continents and more closely integrating our many activities with these selected institutions. We are currently seeking to develop partnerships with several institutions.
VI. The Future
When we speak of bringing global perspectives to Duke,
the question is: What do we want to accomplish over the next five to ten
years? When the twenty-first century is a decade old, what impact do we
hope to have had upon Duke as an institution and upon Duke graduates with
our internationalization efforts?
Our primary goal should be to prepare Duke graduates for global citizenship. This means that every Duke student will gain exposure to international perspectives during four years of study here, whether or not he or she leaves the Duke campus. The relatively small size of Duke's endowment limits our capacity to create a substantial fellowship fund for international students, but we will create a modest endowment (the Ambassador Duke Scholarships Program) that the university can supplement with additional funds so that we can begin to address the lack of financial aid for international students. If we cannot make study abroad a graduation requirement for all students (an idea that is appealing), we can -- and must -- give students sustained exposure to the world during their time at Duke, in order to make them more culturally sensitive and professionally competent by the time they leave.
Duke students can expect and should, in fact, seek more interaction with a wider spectrum of people and cultures. Graduates who thrive in the new international environment will be those who see clearly that they are no longer merely citizens of an individual nation. They will be sensitive to the fact that they live in a complex, interdependent world in which individuals are part of an increasingly global society. Students graduating now and in the future will spend much more of their working lives abroad among people from very different backgrounds. Our responsibility is to prepare them to meet the challenges of an interdependent world where knowledge knows no boundaries and in which, as Duke graduates, they will have great responsibility for shaping the future.
Ideally, in the coming decade we hope that every faculty member who wishes to undertake international research will be able to do so, with support from the University. We will make every attempt to support individual and collaborative research which crosses geographic and disciplinary boundaries, and which has the potential for creative integration to classroom discussion. We hope to bring frequent international visitors to Duke in a way which leaves a lasting imprint upon our own faculty and students. Above all, we hope that by supporting a series of unique yet mutually reinforcing efforts at Duke and abroad, we will create synergies which make the whole of internationalization greater than the sum of its parts.
EdNote: This essay first appeared in Lancet magazine.
AN ANTIDOTE FOR BOOK-THIEVERY:
WILLIAM OSLER AND
-- by Francis A. Neelon, MD (DUMC)
All libraries have books marred by annotations and underlines,
in different hands, in pencil and pen, which deface the text. It is possible
to read past such added distractions, but they do not make the task easier.
Of course, things could be worse -- the book could be stolen outright.
Still, I am irked whenever I find such lack of concern for tending our
common ground. I was, therefore, happy to run across a cry of outrage at
the plunderers of books. It came from the pen of Sir William Osler, Canadian-born
co-founder of the medical school at Johns Hopkins, and the most famous
English-speaking physician of all time. Osler wrote: "The first book
I bought was the Globe Shakespeare; the second the 1862 edition, Boston,
of the Religio Medici..., both of which were close companions
of my student days. The Shakespeare was stolen, and the curses of Bishop
Ernulphus have often been invoked on the son of Belial who took it..."1
Osler's invocation of anathema was no passing fancy. The title-page of Osler's working copy of his Principles and Practice of Medicine bears the book-curse, "Private Copy. May all the curses of the good Bishop Ernulphus light on the borrower-and-non-returner or stealer of this book!"2 W. W. Francis said that "when lending a volume [Osler] was capable of scribbling in it not his own name but those of the bishop and the borrower with similar commination, thus, 'May the curses of Ernulphus, and of Dr. Borrower, light on the non-returner.'"2
OF BIBLIOMANIA AND BIBLIOPHILIA
Bibiliotropism -- a lasting attraction to books -- impels
collectors like Osler to imprecation. The amassing of books runs from a
harmless collectomania to an obsessive and life-distorting compulsion,
so we must distinguish bibliomania -- the collecting of books for collecting's
sake -- from bibliophilia -- the love of books for the information they
contain. Holbrook Jackson quotes Harrison as saying: "the collecting
of rare books and forgotten authors is perhaps of all manias the most foolish,
rating lower than the collecting of china which is occasionally beautiful,
or beetles, which are at least droll...,"3 and Lord Chesterfield,
as warning his son against "acquiring a passion for scarce rather
than good books, or, as he put it, 'understanding editions and title-pages
Jackson says that the touchstone of bibliomania is the buying of books without the reading of them. Or as he put it, since to "look at a book is not the same as to look in one...the true sign of a bibliomaniac is hoarding without reading."3 Perhaps so, but a variant of bibliomania consists of reading to such excess that bodily functions and health are neglected. Guillaume Budé, the early French philologist, who when his reading was interrupted by a servant shouting that the house was on fire answered, "Tell my wife: you know that I never interfere with the household"4 -- and went on reading! Bibliomania can reach epic proportions. The French lawyer Boulard amassed over 600,000 volumes ( and six houses in which to store them); when he died, it took 5 years to sell off his collection.5
Did Osler suffer from bibliomania? Writing under his nom de plume of E. Y. Davis, Osler says: "I confess to have lapsed, gradually and insensibly, and without the loss of my self-respect" into terminal bibliomania -- that stage when the victim begins buying books before noon, or "like the secret drinker, always has a book hidden in the cupboard."6 But there is reason to doubt this self-diagnosis. After all, Osler certainly read and used the contents of the books in his large library. And Jackson notes that at Osler's death "the body of the good bibliophile [note, he did not say good bibliomane!] was left in the Lady Chapel of Christ Church, Oxford "covered with a plain velvet pall on which lay a single sheaf of lilies and his favourite copy of the Religio."3,p265 Of course, Cushing pointed out that Osler owned "fifty-five editions"6 of the Religio Medici, so only one verdict is perfectly clear: Osler was a devotee of books, a lover of the published word, and it is no surprise that he called down divine wrath on the stealers of books.
"KEEP SAFE THIS BOOK"
The need to protect books from thieves and defilers (from
biblioklepts and biblioclasts) is ancient indeed.
It is difficult for us toda who took it..."1
Osler's invocation of anathema was no passing fancy. The title-page of Osler's working copy of his Principles and Practice of Medicine bears the book-curse, "Private Copy. May all the curses of the good Bishop Ernulphus light on the borrower-and-non-returner or stealer of this book!"2 W. W. Francis said that "when lending a volume [Osler] was capable of scribbling in it not his own name but thos punished accordingly) since the mutated form would be maintained thenceforth, reproduced in subsequent copies.
Book production required not just a cadre of skilled scribes. There had to be a text (the so-called exemplar) suitable for copying. Substantial sums were required as pledge that a book borrowed for copying would be returned, and often a second copy was required as payment for the loan. To copy a book without permission was to commit the Roman crime of slave-stealing or plagium (from which we get plagiarism). It was dealt with sternly. St. Columba, Irish apostle to the Scots, is reputed to have secretly copied, without permission, a rare and beautiful manuscript belonging to his teacher, Finian of Moville.8 When Finian demanded back not just the original but the copy as well, Columba refused. Diarmit, King of Meath, ruled in Finian's favor, saying "To every cow her calf; to every book its copy," and Columba left Ireland in exile for Iona.
The invocation of prayerful protection for books is probably as old as writing itself. Given the arduous nature of book copying, it is not surprising that pious Christian scribes began their manuscripts with an inconspicuous Cb, an abbreviation for "Christe benedic""May Christ bless (my work)."7 And when, at last, a scribe had finished his copying, he signified the end of the manuscript by writing "Explicit," short for "Explicitus liber est," "The book is finished." Any blank space that remained after the explicit became the scribe's own. They might append a brief orison or a lament or a sigh of relief -- the oldest of which says "Three fingers hold the pen, but the whole body labors."7
When scribes realized that their precious work might fall into the hands of greasy-fingered semi-barbarians, they began to offer explicit instructions such as "Please wash your hands before reading this" or "Don't put your hands on the page." And eventually, to protect the book from those who coveted it too much, scribes and book owners began to invoke the wrath of the Almighty on would-be book-stealers.
A GARLAND OF BOOK CURSES
Marc Drogin has collected (and had translated, where necessary,
from the Latin) many of these early book curses.7 Consider this
early Latin curse:
Sit maledictus per Christum
Qui librum subtraxerit istum
Christ's curse upon the crook
Who takes away this book
or the curse of the blind and deaf John Awdelay, written
at Haughmond Monastery in 1426:
No mon this book he take away
Ny kutt owte noo leefe, y say for why;
Fur hyt ys sacrelege, sirus, y yow say,
[He] beth acursed in the dede truly.
or this old English curse:
Who folds a leafe downe
ye divel toaste browne,
Who makes marke or blotte,
ye divel roaste hot,
Who stealeth thisse boke,
Ye divel shall cooke.
or this ingenious Scribal curse (actually a rhyming Latin couplet):
Sor sup no scrip li poti
te er rum tor bri atur
Mor inf no rap li mori
It is easier to visualize as rendered into English for Marc Drogin by David Harvey:8
May he who [wrote/steals] this book [procure/endure] the [joys/pangs] of [life eternal/death infernal].
Drogin's little book is a delight and a wonderment, but
I was not surprised to find that this modern book contains at the front
an updated version of the book curse: "No part of this publication
may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any
form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, etc, etc, etc."
THE CURSE OF ERNULPHUS
Osler might have had access to any of the above -- or
a number of other suitable curses -- but he chose for his purposes the
grand-daddy of all, the curse of Ernulf, Bishop of Rochester, who lived
from 1040 to 1124. Ernulf was a gentle and scholarly English cleric whom
King Henry ordered consecrated Bishop of Rochester "whether he would
or no."9 If for nothing else, we are indebted to Ernulf,
survivor of the Norman Conquest, for preserving (in the Codex Roffensis)
the rites and rituals of Anglo-Saxon Christianity. Included is the rite
of excommunication and damnation we know by his name, although it was already
old when Ernulf wrote it down. Lawrence Sterne used the curse whole (along
with a translation and humorous commentary) in Tristram Shandy.
Osler was familiar with Tristram and refers explicitly
to the scene in which the curse appears: Dr. Slop (a vicious -- and according
to Osler unfair -- caricature of the famous Dr. John Burton, the "man-midwife"
of York) is commissioned by Tristram's father to perform a Cesarean section
and thereby spare the nascent Tristram's delicate brain from the trauma
of passage through the birth canal. Slop cuts his finger trying to open
the knot tied in his obstetrical bag by the servant Obadiah, and then invokes
Ernulf's curse on Obadiah.10 It is a most all-encompassing curse
and certainly capable of fending off book theft, the worthy purpose to
which Osler later put it. I excerpt here largely from Sterne's rendition.11
(Think of this the next time you are tempted to steal a book!)
"By the authority of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and Holy Ghost, and of the holy canons, and of the undefiled Virgin Mary, mother and patroness of our Saviour, and of all the celestial virtues, angels, archangels, thrones, dominions, powers, cherubins and seraphins, and of all the holy patriarchs, prophets, and of all the apostles and evangelists, and of the holy innocents, who in the sight of the holy Lamb, are found worthy to sing the new song of the holy martyrs and holy confessors, and of the holy virgins, and of all the saints, together with the holy and elect of God --
We excommunicate and anathematize this malefactor, and from the thresholds of the holy church of God we sequester him, that he may be tormented, disposed and delivered over with Dathan and Abiram, and with those who say unto the Lord God, Depart from us, we desire none of thy ways. And as fire is quenched with water, so let the light of him be put out for evermore, unless it shall repent him and make satisfaction...."
(Then Ernulf again invites at great length the whole holy company -- Trinity, saints, angels and archangels -- to curse the appointed one thusly:)
"May he be damn'd wherever he may be (whether in the house or the stables, the garden or the field, or the highway, or in the path or in the wood, or in the water, or in the church. May he be cursed in living, in dying. May he be cursed in eating and drinking, in being hungry, in being thirsty, in fasting, in sleeping, in slumbering, in walking, in standing, in lying, in working, in resting, in pissing, in shitting, and in blood letting. May he be cursed in all the faculties of his body. May he be cursed inwardly and outwardly. May he be cursed in the hair of his head. May he be cursed in his brains, and in his vertex, in his temples, in his forehead, in ears, in his eye-brows, in his cheeks, in his jaw-bones, in his nostrils" (and in his teeth, mouth, breast, heart, stomach, genitals, legs, feet and toe-nails, etc, etc ) "from the top of his head to the sole of his foot" and forever, "unless he repent and make satisfaction. Amen. Fiat, fiat. Amen."
THE OUTCOMES OF BOOK-CURSING
Osler's choice of a curse on book-thieves is admirably
suited to the crime. But do curses work? That is not entirely clear. Osler's
library survived rather well, but it was not inviolate12 -- and
Osler even risked calling Ernulf's wrath on himself. Sir Charles Sherrington
pointed out that "Osler never kept his bookcases locked, even though
he was not unaware of the weaknesses of book-collectors."13
Osler told Sherrington of having a book purloined by an elderly acquaintance.
When the man died, he willed the volume back to Osler. To which Osler responded:
"Who can say that book-collectors have no conscience!" Sherrington
then noted that the Osler Library contains a "sixteenth century herbal
full of woodcuts which I certainly thought a possession of my own. Osler
borrowed it, and presently said, 'Thank you: a very good little copy'."13
Osler never returned it to its rightful owner!
1. Osler W. The collecting of a library. In: Selected writings of Sir Willliam Osler. London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1951.
2. Francis W.W. At Osler's shrine. Bull Med Libr Assoc. 1937;26:1-8.
3. Jackson H. The Anatomy of Bibliomania, vol 2. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1931.
4. Elton IE, Elton MA. The great book-collectors. London: K Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co, 1983.
5. Raabe T. Biblioholism. Golden, CO: Fulcrum Publishing, 1991.
6. Cushing H. The Life of Sir William Osler. London: Oxford University Press, 1925.
7. Drogin M. Anathema! Medieval Scribes and the History of Book Curses. Totowa, NJ: Allanheld, Osmun; Montclair, NJ: A Schram, 1983.
8. Bamford C. The heritage of celtic Christianity: ecology and holiness. In: O'Driscoll R, editor. The celtic consciousness. New York: George Braziller, 1981.
9. Whitelock D, editor. The Anglo-Saxon chronicle. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1961.
10. Osler W. Men and books; XXII, Dr. Slop. Can Med Assoc J. 1913;3:612-3
11. Sterne L. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gent. In The Works of Laurence Sterne. London: Sharpe and Son, 1819.
12. Hunter R.J. The curse of Ernulphus. Bull Hist Med. 1951;25:554-8
13. Sherrington CS. Osler at Oxford. N C Med J. 1949;10:377-9.
VISITING POET IN
EdNote: Sharon Olds read her poems on March
27 at 4:30 in the Thomas Room of the Lilly Library.
from the works of Sharon Olds
I Go Back to May 1937 (from The Gold Cell)
I see them standing at the formal gates of their colleges,
I see my father strolling out
under the ochre sandstone arch, the
red tiles glinting like bent
plates of blood behind his head, I
see my mother with a few light books at her hip
standing at the pillar made of tiny bricks with the
wrought-iron gate still open behind her, its
sword-tips black in the May air,
they are about to graduate, they are about to get married,
they are kids, they are dumb, all they know is they are
innocent, they would never hurt anybody.
I want to go up to them and say Stop,
don't do it--she's the wrong woman,
he's the wrong man, you are going to do things
you cannot imagine you would ever do,
you are going to do bad things to children,
you are going to suffer in ways you never heard of,
you are going to want to die. I want to go
up to them there in the late May sunlight and say it,
her hungry pretty blank face turning to me,
her pitiful beautiful untouched body,
his arrogant handsome blind face turning to me,
his pitiful beautiful untouched body,
but I don't do it. I want to live. I
take them up like the male and female
paper dolls and bang them together
at the hips like chips of flint as if to
strike sparks from them, I say
Do what you are going to do, and I will tell about it.
SEEKING TENURE IN
A FAILING BOOK MARKET
EdNote: Part I below consists of excerpts from an essay by Robert Darnton, "The New Age of the Book," in The New York Review of Books (3/18/99, 5-7). My editorial commentary (Part II) follows the excerpt.
I. The Failing Book Market
"The New York Public Library dispenses so much information
electronically to readers all over the world that it reports ten million
hits on its computer system each month as opposed to 50,000 books dispensed
in its reading room at 42nd Street. . . . The best case to be
made for e-books concerns scholarly publishing, not in all fields but in
large stretches of the humanities and social sciences where conventional
monographs -- that is, learned treatises on particular subjects -- have
become prohibitively expensive to produce. . . . A subscription to Brain
Research costs $15,203; the Journal of Comparative Neurology
costs $13,900; Nuclear Physics B, $11,267. . . .
"Until recently, monographs used to account for at least half the acquisition budget of most research libraries. In 1996-97, however, 78 percent of the acquisitions budget in the library of the University of Illinois went for periodicals, 21 percent for monographs. . . . The library at the University of Hawaii spent 84 percent on periodicals and 12 percent on monographs. . . . If the transformation of library budgets continues at this rate we can wonder whether new work in the humanities and social sciences will survive in book form. . . .
"According to a rule of thumb among editors in the 1970s, a university press could count on selling 800 copies of a monograph to libraries. Today, the figure is 400, often less, and not enough in any case to cover costs. Publishers can no longer count on selling books that would have been irresistible to librarians twenty years ago. Volume 1 of The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, published in 1959, sold 8,407 copies, mostly to libraries. Volume 33, published in 1998, has sold 753 copies. . . .
"Many presses tried to find a way out of the impasse by concentrating on subjects currently in vogue: books about gender, sex, feminism, homosexuality, lesbianism, women's studies, African-American studies, postcolonialism, and postmodernism of all varieties. . . . The question remains: Can an author with a worthwhile monograph -- something solid but not sexy, the kind of book that flourished twenty years ago -- expect to get it published?
"If you ask the experts in university presses, you are bound to be discouraged. Every editor has a collection of stories about superb monographs that did not sell. Sanford Thatcher at the Penn State University Press tells of a book on nineteenth-century Brazil that won two prizes and sold fewer than 500 copies and of another on Islam in Central Asia that received ecstatic reviews and four awards but sold fewer than 215 in cloth (it sold a mere 615 in paperback). . . .
"The danger spills over into a third problem: the careers of young scholars. Any assistant professor knows the categorical imperative: publish or perish, which translates into something more immediate: no monograph, no tenure. . . . Suppose, against all odds, an assistant professor succeeds in transforming a dissertation into a first-rate monograph within three or four years: Will he or she be able to get it published? Not likely. . . .
"Given these intersecting, overlapping problems, can electronic publishing provide a solution? . . . Peer review, page design, composition, printing, marketing, publicity -- a variety of expertise is necessary to transform a dissertation into a monograph. Instead of simplifying this process, electronic publishing will add further complications, but the result could be a great increase in value. An e-dissertation could contain virtually unlimited appendices and data bases. . . And once the technical problems are worked out, it could be produced and distributed economically, saving production costs for the publisher and shelf space for the library. . . .
"If everything comes together successfully, will electronic monographs be recognized as books? Will they acquire enough intellectual legitimacy to pass muster among suspicious tenure committees and to relieve the pressure on academic careers? This is the point at which veteran scholars can make a difference. Those who have proven their ability to produce first-rate conventional books could help create books of a new kind, far more original and ambitious than a converted dissertation. . . .
"Far from being utopian, the electronic monograph could meet the needs of the scholarly community at the point where its problems converge. It could provide a tool for prying problems apart and opening up a new space for the extension of learning."
II. The Tenure Trap
Viewed from the perspective of the Duke campus in the
spring of 1999, Darnton's essay poses a question of fundamental importance:
Can a faculty such as ours adapt to the new realities of our profession?
To do so would require changing our ways with respect to two paramount
First, the Hobbesian economics of academic book publishing harshly raise the ante for tenure and promotion. When the market shrinks radically for even excellent, prize-winning volumes, the consequences are sure to exacerbate two academic perversities: the displacement of serious scholarship by voguish, quick-selling intellectual popcorn; and the assignment of a press's diminishing publication slots on the basis of inside influence rather than open meritocracy. For these reasons, tenure-seekers should be allotted more time between writing a book and getting it published, while associate professors (as I argued in my very first FF editorial -- 10/96) should earn promotion for long-term excellence in teaching and administrative work in lieu of book-publication. Even our graduate school training may require basic changes: our former Duke colleague Annabel Patterson, now of Yale, has proposed scrapping the German-style dissertation, in part because its chances of publication are so bleak.
The most pernicious effect of the book-making bottleneck lies in its constriction of academic freedom. In this respect, the most chilling statement in Darnton's analysis is that "Many presses tried to find a way out of the impasse by concentrating on subjects currently in vogue: books about gender, sex, feminism, homosexuality, lesbianism, women's studies, African-American studies, postcolonialism, and postmodernism of all varieties." Certainly these topics, when responsibly treated, are important and viable, but by largely restricting their books to these familiar conventions, our elite university presses in effect (given our tenure requirements) limit the job market accordingly, thereby wreaking collateral damage upon both graduate and undergraduate curricula. In truth, the fact that everyone is pursuing this set of interests is precisely the reason why not everyone should be doing it. The health of academe requires effective -- that is, widely published -- alternatives to the orthodox ideas to which the bottleneck in publishing confines current intellectual enterprise.
From this compound dilemma, electronic publishing promises long overdue relief. If -- or perhaps we should say when -- the American professoriat can come to accept electronic (paperless) scholarship as valid, our tenure/promotion process can be more humanely reasonable, and our intellectual discourse may shake off its debasing bondage to a radically shrinking academic book market. Thanks to the Internet, open, immediate, and non-hierarchical access to the widest imaginable range of ideas has never been more realizable. In our current state of academe, we need it badly.
PARROT'S RECITATIONS: Edmund Burke
ADVENTURES IN NOBLE THINKING
"Men are qualified for civil liberty in
exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own
appetites; in proportion as their love of justice is above their rapacity;
in proportion as their soundness and sobriety of understanding is above
their vanity and presumption. . . . Society cannot exist unless a
controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less
of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained
within the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds
cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters."
--The Writings and Speeches of the Right Honorable Edmund Burke,
Volume Four (Boston: 1901), 541-52
The Faculty Forum is published monthly
by the Academic Council.
Editor: Victor Strandberg (English). Editorial Advisory Board: Matt Cartmill (Biological Anthropology & Anatomy), Howard Clark (Biomedical Engineering), Buford Jones (English), Seymour Mauskopf (History -- on leave), and Kathy Rudy (Women's Studies).
The purpose of the Faculty Forum is to provide an opportunity for faculty members to discuss topics of common interest. Contributions of every kind should be sent, in both print and (if lengthy) computer disk, to the editor,Victor Strandberg, in 315 Allen Building. Voicemail is 684-3976; no objection to calls at home, 489-5531. E-mail is email@example.com FAX (English department) is 919-684-4871. The deadline for submissions is about the 25th of each month.