The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Friday, January 09, 2004

The MLA, anti-semitism speech-chilling - cue Judith Butler!


I first take cognizance of the woman just now as the author of a piece (August 23 2003) in London Review of Books on the infamous speech from October 2002 by Harvard University President Lawrence Summers [1] in which he alleged that
Serious and thoughtful people are advocating and taking actions that are anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent.

The piece runs to around 4,000 words of prose which, if not exactly impenetrable, was certainly not beach reading. But she seems to hit the main points. And, unlike your humble blogger, is a professor. In fact, it says,
Maxine Elliot Professor in Rhetoric and Comparative Literature at the University of California at Berkeley.

A school of which even I have heard!

(I'd like to read the piece again before essaying any detailed comment on the substance.)

Curious, I look further. Butler, in the London argot, it seems, has previous.

She is, in fact, of the much-loathed party of Deride-ist, MLA types duly and rightly ridiculed (as in Wednesday's piece). She has the honour of being the 1998 winner of the Bad Writing prize offered by the journal Philosophy and Literature. Her prize-winning passage makes no sense as prose, but I admit the possibility that it might if worked as algebra by those who understand the terms (which I do not). (Her LRB piece, in comparison, is PG Wodehouse.)

And Erin O'Connor calls her
queer theory poster girl
and places her amongst
the Porno-Left

But I speak as I find: on Summers, if on nothing else, she appears, on first reading to be sound.

(She's a Jew, which will, no doubt, make a difference in some quarters...)

  1. Last mentioned here on November 26.

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