All Possible Humanities Dissertations Considered As Single Tweets

Stephen Burt in the New Yorker
Burt-Humanities-Dissertations-as-Single-Tweets

As the title says:

‘This pedestrian term is actually the key to my historical period.

A disputatious panel at last year’s professional conference revealed the surprising state of the field (it’s as bad as you think).

My historical period, properly understood, includes yours.

What looked like a moment of failure, confusion, or ugliness in this well-known work is better seen as directions for reading the whole.

A problem you thought you could solve defines your field; you can’t imagine the field without the problem.

The only people able to understand this work properly cannot communicate that understanding to you.

Those two apparently incompatible versions of a thing are better regarded as parts of the same, larger thing.

Quantitative methods have an unexpected use.

Analytical tools developed for, and strongly associated with, a well-defined set of things in fact apply to a much larger set of things.

A public event simultaneous with, but apparently unrelated to, a famous art work in fact shaped that work’s composition or reception.

This famous thing closely resembles, and therefore responds to, that slightly earlier, less famous thing.

If you teach that old thing in this new way, your students will like it.

If you teach that old thing in this new way, your students will like you.

Before a given date, a now obscure, once omnipresent theory meant that all of culture was somehow different.

After a given date, a new technology meant that all of culture was somehow different.

The name we’ve been using for this stuff is anachronistic. Here’s a better name.

(…)’

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