You Got Style
· Pointed Takes on Style Delineated ·
January 9, 2007
· Scholarly, Critical, Theoretical Academic Librarianship, Leon Howard Style ·
Howard was a fine scholar trained in the German style at Johns Hopkins — one writing the nineteenth dissertation in American literature ("of which there are no extant copies," he happily joked). His long career at Northwestern, UCLA, and New Mexico was highlighted by New Mexico's naming a small library for him in 1983. I thought that fitting, since as Moby-Dick readers may recall, "librianship" is a key theme in Melville's novel.
My own work in that service (getting students into the library and weaning a few from the net) is modest enough, but since books are all helpful, getting folks to read, and even beyond that to "think" about literature, is still more so. You may recall my Whose Words These Are I Think I Know, a January 2005 post centered on finding abstraction, figuration, and organization in books. Today I thought to add a fresh take on still more academic work — work stretching over the entire course of the past century.
Howard's biography can help us in defining it — at least at the boundaries.
As I tell students, twentieth-century literary academics fall broadly into three kinds, scholars, critics, and theorists. All have played one-upsmanship games over time, the older looking down on the younger, and vice versa, of course. Though I am quite non-sectarian, in aging I have grown to appreciate the work of the older scholars like Leon Howard.
Here's how he stakes his claim on "critical" study in his brief "Preface":
Those perfect adverbial phrases, "as a matter of fact," "for my part," and "in short," catch Howard's concern: some gathered "facts," "personally" acquired, and all "briefly" shown are, indeed, his point. So, naturally, his conclusion ("Recollection and Renown") drives it home more stylishly.
What more can I say?
Lots, of course, but any real "usable truth" in this "blog post" cannot sustain — even theoretically — a more "usable past" in his book.
And, less so, that in the Leon Howard Memorial Library.Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
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