Omens of an Intellectual Death

Omens of an Intellectual Death

Found Poems on “Scholarly Knowledge” from Promotion Review Letters

by Dr. REDACTED, Professor of Anthropology, REDACTED University

Dedicated to Dell Hymes, who once said, “One should react to the utterance of ‘That’s not anthropology,’ as one would to the omen of an intellectual death. For that is what it is…. Either one has something to say about [a subject] or one does not.” 

#1: “Leadership in Scholarly Activities”

“It is laudable that Professor REDACTED
has chosen to engage
with the public
on a matter of great importance.

a leadership position within the academy
presupposes leadership in
scholarly activities.…
Without greater scholarly engagement
with the scholarly questions and debates
the field of anthropology…

The Committee finds
that Professor REDACTED’s scholarship
does not meet
the Department of Anthropology’s Criteria for Promotion.”

#2: “Advancing the Field”

“Scholarly knowledge…
is knowledge that advances
the empirical and conceptual development
of the field….

Because my own orientation
is to scholarly knowledge,
I will make reference to this
in what follows….

Professor REDACTED’s
in the world
is beyond dispute.

Professor REDACTED’s passion lies in pointing out
the injustices in the world
that have been visited on
the relatively disenfranchised….

Still, Professor REDACTED is evidently someone
who could be capable of more sustained
scholarly work,
judging from Professor REDACTED’s ability to engage with these issues.

Professor REDACTED’s passion, however….
is a passion for creating and maintaining a voice
in public debates
that promotes the immediate interests of less fortunate populations.

The central issue…
concerns the extent to which Professor REDACTED’s writings
advance the empirical and conceptual development
of the field….
The work is written for
popular consumption,
for the field.

It does not
do much
to advance anthropology
as a discipline….”

Dr. REDACTED is Professor of Anthropology at REDACTED University in REDACTED, USA. They received a Ph.D. and M.A. in anthropology from REDACTED University. 

3 Replies to “Omens of an Intellectual Death”

  1. I feel like someone rifled through my files and stole my letters! This is a sad, sad commentary on our discipline. Power to Dr. Redacted!

  2. So much of this could have been taken out of my own tenure files. But I imagine that’s the point. These reasons get used over and over to minimize and devalue those who do this kind of work. Thank you to whoever wrote this. It was painful and comforting to feel so seen.