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Caveat Emptor

The opinions expressed on this page are mine alone. Any similarities to the views of my employer are completely coincidental.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Blowing our own trumpets

I'm told that being "high profile" is now an essential part of the approved manner of academic life and that those of us for whom self-promotion is indelibly associated with vulgarity are indulging the manners of the Edwardian drawing room. I suppose one must move with the times even though it is so easy to mistake scruples for vanity. With that in mind I was delighted to see that Stefan Collini writing in the LRB shares my view of the Milburn Report and has nice things to say about the report of the National Equality Panel that I sat on.
Note to myself: I must get round to adding long lists to my CV - every seminar I've ever given; every course I've ever taught; every book review I've ever written; every journal I've refereed for; every conference I've attended; every time I've been rung up by a journalist; every committee I've ever sat on... Hey, I can easily get to 30 pages that way!


Jasmine said...

This is hilarious!

I'm a doctoral student in Sociology, and I am bewildered by the CV fluffing. I personally think modesty is a virtue..

Maybe I'm in the wrong field ;)

Colin said...

I'm with you Jasmine. I remember a time when gratuitous CV padding made a job applicant look ridiculous. Now it seems to be the norm. I've seen very senior and I must say, serious, academics fill their CVs with, for example, lists of u/g and MSc theses they have supervised. I guess they think it makes them look like busy people. In a world of intellectual balkanisation where you can't rely on anyone actually having read anything you have written then I guess in the scrabble to get noticed people believe that weight and size matter and once they start to believe it then it does matter. You also have to throw into the pot the Americanisation of British academia. Though we speak, approximately, the same language there are big cultural differences - hence the success of books like David Lodge's 'Changing Places'. My impression is that North American norms are closer to the idea that it is a form of slacking NOT to push yourself forward. After all, the crowd is very big and if you don't push yourself forward who else is going to help you? Inevitably the UK academic market in people and ideas is wide open to American influence - which is a very good thing - but it has unintended consequences which sometimes jar with local norms and feelings.

June said...

Problem is, more often than not weight and size do matter. 'Knowledge' is internet-ised and, usually, online CVs have become the only way to deduce a person’s calibre. Thankfully, there are some discerning people (like you I see) who do not fall into this trap of blowing their own trumpet and gauging others by the decibel level of theirs. But then, there are just some.

Truth is that mediocrity sells today. Would it be better then to, say, blow a bugle than a trumpet to avoid depriving mankind entirely of one's intellectual contribution to it? :)