The Elephant Roundup (November 2021)

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A monthly newsletter from Feeding the Elephant: A Forum for Scholarly Communications.

Academic Authority and Academic Freedom

  • Jeffrey C. Isaac, Florida Is a Five-Alarm Fire for Academic Freedom, The Chronicle of Higher Education, October 31, 2021.

    • “The facts are straightforward: The university’s administrators — all of whom are ultimately accountable to the trustees — maintain that since the university is a state institution, it would be a conflict of interest for its employees to offer testimony against the state government. This is an obvious, and unprecedented, violation of basic principles of academic freedom. ”

  • Andrew Albanese, Librarians, Educators Warn of “Organized” Book Banning Efforts, Publishers Weekly, November 18, 2021.

    • “...while efforts to remove books from schools and library collections are not uncommon, librarians and freedom to read advocates warn that this current spike in challenges is different, as it appears to be part of a broader political strategy.”

  • The Future of Expertise: How will the pandemic alter intellectual authority?, The Chronicle of Higher Education, November 2, 2021.

    • “The academy is expertise’s natural abode — its incubator, gatekeeper, protector, and even home to some of its sharpest critics. At a time when the authority of the university is under attack — from the right, for whom trust in academe has steeply declined, and from the left, increasingly hostile toward the rubrics of meritocracy so central to academic life — renewed attention to expertise has never seemed so urgent. We asked nine scholars and writers from across disciplines to answer the question: What will the vicissitudes of the last couple of years mean for the future of ‘expertise,’ broadly conceived? Here’s what they told us.”


The Scholar’s Life

  • Monica Drake, How Literature by Black Authors Shaped One Scholar’s Life, The New York Times, October 23, 2021.

    • “Though Farah Jasmine Griffin did not grow up a churchgoer, she gracefully weaves the sacred with the profane in her academic memoir, “Read Until You Understand,” which explores her connection to the sweeping themes found within the African American literature she reveres. In doing so, Griffin makes literary analysis both accessible and relevant.”

  • Rachel Toor, Scholars Talk Writing: Tressie McMillan Cottom, The Chronicle of Higher Education, November 3, 2021.

    • “Writing is part of the research process, and writing is part of the intellectual process. And it’s important to be comfortable owning and developing your own writing voice and style. It is all right to sound like yourself.”


Libraries and Community Infrastructures


Virtual Conferences

  • Anne Baillot, Going global, going regional, Hypotheses blog, October 27, 2021.

    • “Trying to conceive a somewhat environmentally friendly conference is a contradiction in terms. In all of the readings that I have done on this topic over the past months, the main conclusion I can draw is that we, collectively, need to do much less – of everything, if we want our planet to be able to cope with our activity. With that baseline in mind, the challenge is to find a way to make sense out of what is a major scholarly event: a conference that takes place once a year on one continent but addresses attendees from all around the globe.”


Workplace Issues

  • Simon Holt and Erin Osborne-Martin, Some Perspectives on Disability Disclosure in the Publishing Industry, The Scholarly Kitchen, October 27, 2021; Job Hunting with an “Invisible” Disability: A Conversation, The Scholarly Kitchen, October 28, 2021.

    • “...disability disclosure – whether and how a person with a disability should share this at work, both ‘officially’ and ‘unofficially’... can be a tricky experience for both employee and employer – the employee naturally wants to focus on what they can do, rather than what they can’t do; good employers want to set their employees up for success, but don’t always know how.… In today’s and tomorrow’s posts, we share some personal examples from people with disabilities, taken from our own experiences, along with our suggestions for how scholarly communications organizations could be more inclusive.”

  • Joshua A. Luna, The Toxic Effects of Branding Your Workplace a “Family,” Harvard Business Review, October 27, 2021.

    • “As a leadership development trainer, this is one of the biggest organizational mistakes I see among managers and high-performing teams. While some aspects of a “family” culture, like respect, empathy, caring, a sense of belonging can add value, ultimately trying to sell your organization’s culture as family-like can be more harmful than psychologically satisfying.”


Judging Books by Their Covers

  • The Diagram Prize for the Oddest Book Title of the Year 2021 Shortlist is Revealed, The Bookseller, November 5, 2021.

    • “For the first time in the Diagram's 43-year history, all six shortlisted titles come from university presses or academia. They include Curves for the Mathematically Curious, which looks at the ‘elegant and often surprising mathematics’ involved in mathematical curves; Handbook of Research on Health and Environmental Benefits of Camel Products, which promises cutting edge data on the ‘ship of the desert’; and Hats: A Very Unnatural History, which lifts the lid on the use of birds and other mammals in the making of headwear.”



  • McKenzie Wark, Oh no. Just learning of the passing of Sylvère Lotringer, Twitter thread, November 10, 2021.

    • “So much of what I called low theory came from @SemiotextePress and Sylvere’s practice. Taking concepts downtown, and other concepts back uptown. That was his genius. Seeing those connections.”



ICYMI on the Elephant

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