No conceptual penis, no global warming.

IT IS NOW more than twenty years since Sokal and Bricmont hoaxed the leftwing academic world with their fake paper, “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Theory” (“transformative” is a touch of brilliance there). As scientists, both had grown sick of scientific concepts being misused by postmodernist academics to discredit the very basis of objectivity. They knew that the authors of these papers had no knowledge of understanding or the sciences but would nevertheless be accepted as creditable as long as they showed themselves to be bona fide leftists. This included references to the gods of the postwar pantheon of “fools, frauds and firebrands”, as Roger Scruton so aptly called them — Foucault, Derrida, etc.

Sokal and Bricmont thus concocted a paper out of the meaningless verbiage that typified such research at the time and submitted it to a journal called Social Text, who had it peer-reviewed and published as authentic. A furore followed the revelation that the academic world had fallen for such obvious fakery. Despite the laughter and scorn of many, there were still plenty of defenders of nonsense within academia willing to claim the hoax meant nothing at all. Eventually the waters of discord settled, the academic idiocy continued and the Sokal hoax was gratefully forgotten by its critics and left unmentioned to a new generation of left wing scribblers.

 

Read on at The Fortnightly Review.

Freedom Week 2017: a free week of tutorials at Cambridge.

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Freedom Week is an annual, one-week seminar which teaches students about classical liberal, free market, neoliberal and liberal perspectives on economics, politics, history and society. It is open to over-18s who are currently attending or about to start university. The week is entirely free to attend: there is no charge whatsoever for accommodation, food, tuition or materials. Freedom Week 2017 will be held from Monday the 3rd to Friday the 8th July.

More details here.

Freedom Week is organised by The Adam Smith Institute.

The American sensitivity lobby gets trigger happy.

trojanwar

The Sensitivity Lobby in some American universities have been twisting their collectivist knickers recently over something they call “triggers”. These are nasty things that crop up in literature, such as descriptions or discussions of violence, sexual assault, racism, sexism, any ism or phobia you can come up with, that could trigger an adverse reaction in students who may have suffered any of these isms…

The Fortnightly Review.

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Poet Tony Curtis defends creative writing courses.

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Poet and Emeritus professor Tony Curtis responds to Hanif Kureishi’s jibe about creative writing courses being a waste of time (TC being external examiner on the MA in Creative Writing at Lincoln – got to get the plug in):

If Hanif Kureishi feels his experience as a teacher of creative writing at university level has been so negative, perhaps he or the University of Kingston should consider his position. My experience of introducing and teaching the subject at the University of Glamorgan, now the University of South Wales, beginning in 1982, was more positive, with some undergraduates and postgraduates going on to publish. Of course, that can never be the stated aim of such courses, but the success of published and award-winning writers and poets from a course reflects back on both their fellow students and the teaching staff…

Read in full.

Nice bit of publicity for Hanif Kureishi, though.

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Segregating the sexes. Free speech for religious bigots only.

Universities UK, a body that represents most of the universities in the country, recently issued a document External Speakers in Higher Education Institutions. This was intended “to provide practical assistance to universities in steering a path through all the different considerations, legal and otherwise, that arise in the context of inviting external speakers on campus.”

One section of the guidelines, “Case Study 2: Segregation” (Chapter 3: External Speaker Case Studies) has come in for considerable criticism, since it appears to condone segregation of men and women for religious reasons at public events if demanded by a speaker .

Part of the offending opinion runs as follows:

It should therefore be borne in mind – taking account of the s.43 duty, as well as equality duties and Human Rights Act obligations – that in these circumstances, concerns to accommodate the wishes or beliefs of those opposed to segregation should not result in a religious group being prevented from having a debate in accordance with its belief system…

Those opposed to segregation are entitled to engage in lawful protest…but their views do not require an institution to stifle a religious society’s segregated debate where the segregation accords with a genuinely-held religious belief.

My impression is that UUK are treading as carefully as they can on a path strewn with numerous legal traps accreted over the years by various government bodies, both national and European (the EU and the Council of Europe both have a hand in the legislation). To satisfy one group would be to antagonise and offend another, and the last thing anyone wants is a legal challenge. In our modern, diversity-and-equality-obsessed, (post-)multicultural society, religion ends up trumping the law and giving offence is the biggest crime of all.

So it’s free speech for bigots only.

Ironic, isn’t it, that the human rights industry has now got itself into such a righteous mess that sexism can be justified on religious grounds?

The Black Path free literary event, Wed 23 Oct, Lincoln University.

Those of you in Lincoln or environs – don’t forget that there will be a free reading of work from The Black Path by last year’s students on the MA Creative Writing course.

The reading will take place in MC0025, 12.00 – 1.00, Wednesday 23 October (2013). Work will include poems, flash fiction and extracts from longer pieces.

Everyone welcome.

Poetry & Audience: 60th birthday celebration at Leeds University.

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Prof John Whale with the sculpture by Hubert Dalwood, bequeathed to the editors of Poetry & Audience in its early days.

Saturday, 19 October, 2013

Editors past and present, together with various poets, magazine editors and current students gathered at the School of English at Leeds University to celebrate 60 years of Poetry & Audience.

Poetry & Audience is one of the longest-running poetry magazines in the UK and owes its longevity as much to the frequently crisis-driven student-owned nature of its existence as to the commitment of the School of English. It also forms an integral part of the strong literary tradition of Leeds, which includes JRR Tolkien and poets such as Geoffrey Hill, James Kirkup, Tony Harrison, Ken Smith, Jeffrey Wainwright, Jon Glover, William Price (“Bill”) Turner, Paul Mills and many others.

The anniversary involved  a roundtable discussion of poetry magazine publishing, readings by P&A poets and editors and individual accounts of the history of P&A (Michael Blackburn, Elaine Glover, John Goodby, Emma Must, Chris Nield, Antony Rowland, Jeffrey Wainwright).

The event was hosted by Prof John Whale, with sessions chaired by Fiona Becket, Hannah Copley and Emily Timms (who also arranged an exhibition of P&A materials). Many thanks to all of them and anyone who I’ve forgotten to mention.

Participants: Michel Blackburn, Carole Bromley, Elaine Glover, Evan Jones, Paul Maddern, Adam Piette, John Goodby, Jay Parker, Christie Oliver-Hobley, Sarah Webster, Amy Ramsey, Mick Gidley, Elaine Glover, Emma Must, Antony Rowland, Jeffrey Wainwright, Hannah Copley, Eleanor Ford, Daniel Boon.