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T-6005
04-07-2009, 06:36 AM
My God do I ever.

I don't hate concise, well-organized arguments - no, definitely not. I love them. I do, however, hate the way that half the readings I'm assigned for class sound like they're straight from Boresville, rambling on unnecessarily when a straight explanation would work just as well.

Granted, not all articles are like this, but enough academic articles are to make me think that most of the academic world uses complex (and occasionally nonsensical) syntax and terms which are much too broad - or worse, whose meanings are contested (the words "space" and "place" in Anthropology come to mind) - to cover up an unsound argument.

I have such a virulent hatred for it mostly because I know it's not necessary - I've had simple, concise textbooks which in the long run actually helped me to assimilate quite a bit more knowledge and, even better, to actually apply that knowledge to the world around me. It simply continues to astound me that academia hasn't gone that way - though perhaps it's because I believe the purpose of academia is to provide knowledge for the general public, not to hoard it and speak in academic code so as to put themselves beyond reproach.

Seriously, people who write articles and textbooks - must you be so aggravating?

Outerspaceman21
04-07-2009, 12:32 PM
I actually have this new textbook for my english class and it's pretty cool. The articles are really well written and insightful.

I know what you mean, though. I hate when I come across those.

Vera
04-07-2009, 03:56 PM
Anthropology tends to be pretty theory-heavy, and sometimes I feel like it's just theory for theory's sake, instead of theory to explain real life phenomenons. At the same time, I understand the basis for academic writing and knowledge - you have to systematically arrange new information, evaluate your own position as a researcher, view previous studies, explain what you research, how you research it, what limitations your study may have etc etc. You also have to dress what you say in academic language in order to be precise and to avoid confusion. If you don't do most of these, then your study is less than valid or valuable or whatever. In summary, if you'd just say what you'd say, then you might as well be making shit up and that's not very cool.

Like for my English exemption exam I was to write a summary of this shitty academic article where the basic outcome of the study was "people frame their discussions on multiculturalism by unconsciously defining who is Us and who is Other". NO SHIT SHERLOCK. But the article was ridiculously demanding in terms of vocabulary and sentence structure and was giving me quite a headache until I re-read it very carefully.

So I get what you mean when you say that sometimes it feels so fucking redundant and annoying. As far as application goes, it's not very easy with some topics. Like our subject, Cultural Anthro, increases knowledge about human species as a whole, similarities and differences between groups, and helps us understand how different cultural phenomenons tie into social, economic and political contexts and understanding of each other as a whole. Application of C.A. is kind of a difficult subject, because the information can be used so horribly wrong, you have this constant fear that the information you provide won't be applied for good purposes but for those of exploitation.

I try to think of it like this; everything I learn betters my understanding of a) my field of study b) the topic at hand and c) the world. If nothing else, it might make for a good bar discussion with friends. But in some ways I tend to view my subject of study - and yours, Thi - as a sort of humanist lense with which to view the world and connect to the individuals on it.

Does that sound overly idealistic? :]

T-6005
04-07-2009, 04:35 PM
Like for my English exemption exam I was to write a summary of this shitty academic article where the basic outcome of the study was "people frame their discussions on multiculturalism by unconsciously defining who is Us and who is Other". NO SHIT SHERLOCK. But the article was ridiculously demanding in terms of vocabulary and sentence structure and was giving me quite a headache until I re-read it very carefully.


I understand what you mean about that one. I think Space and Place are worse, though, since different writers use them differently. Some claim that someone's perception and their lending of significance to a place makes it into a social space - WHEREAS half of the others say that walking through a space actively makes it place. The crazy thing is that they mean the exact same thing - they just can't agree on how to use the terms and thus use them in complete opposition to each other.

Also, is it or isn't it an absolute trend for Anthropologists' essays to read: "Position A believes A, but these other people, Position B, believe B. The truth as revealed by me is that it's sort of in the middle." Half the time that seems to be the big revelation they're aiming for.

More than anything, though, I hate being tossed into a reading that begins by telling you that it's taking a structuralist or functionalist or post-structuralist approach - I generally know what they mean when I come across them, but occasionally one of them escapes that I don't fully understand, and no help is ever forthcoming.


You also have to dress what you say in academic language in order to be precise and to avoid confusion.
And see, that's where I think you're wrong. I think quite often academic language adds an unnecessary level of complexity to what is generally a fairly simple conclusion - it makes you reread sentences to try and figure out exactly what they mean. I agree with the rest of what you said - that it's important to form a basis and check other research and appear valid - but I don't think that shady language is in any way necessary.

Take this article I had to read a week ago - one sentence of it.

"It is not possible completely to understand the importance and symbolic value attached to the threshold in the system, unless one is aware that it owes its function as a frontier to the fact that it is the place of a logical inversion and that, as the obligatory place of passage and meeting between the two spaces, which are defined in relation to socially qualified movements of the body and crossings from one place to another, it is logically the place where the world is reversed."

This in an article about Gendered Spaces in Berber households.

Markus
04-07-2009, 09:13 PM
I use academic papers as a pedestal to mock my professor's ignorant liberal views.

Little_Miss_1565
04-07-2009, 09:54 PM
I use academic papers as a pedestal to mock my professor's ignorant liberal views.

"They took our jerbs!"

Outerspaceman21
04-07-2009, 10:26 PM
"They took our jerbs!"

"They took our jerbs!"

Vera
04-08-2009, 03:59 AM
Okay, yeah, that sentence is a clusterfuck. By academic language I meant stuff like specific terminology used. Cracking open the thesaurus just to make things as complicated a possible is not what academic writing is about; the best writers are those who have a handle on the terminology, can define the terms they use and be concise and understandable.