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The Marketplace of Ideas

  by Louis Menand

(about 118 pages)
total words
of all the books in our library
of all the books in our library
passive voice
of all the books in our library
all adverbs
of all the books in our library
of all the books in our library
of all the books in our library

clippings from this book

We’ve analyzed hundreds of millions of words, from thousands of different authors, training our linguistic models to recognize the most vivid words in the English language… the words that create the most intense sensory experiences: colors, textures, sounds, flavors, and aromas.

Based on our analysis, we’ve scanned through the pages of this book to find the two pages at the extremes, both the most-passive and the most-vivid pages, so that you can compare them side-by-side and see the difference:

existential, and interdisciplinarity is, at bottom, a professional and institutional issue. Interdisciplinarity is attainable to the extent that professors are professionally motivated and institutionally supported to practice it. Professors may not be so motivated and institutions may not be supportive. But interdisciplinarity is not, as a thing in itself, subversive or transgressive or transformational or even new. In many respects, interdisciplinarity is a ratification of existing arrangements. And it can become a rationale for future arrangements that are less accommodating than the ones professors live with now. So what are academics talking about when they talk about interdisciplinarity? Is it really interdisciplinarity? Do they care about interdisciplinarity as such? Or is there something else that they are anxious about for which talk of interdisciplinarity serves as a kind of screen discourse? One reason to suspect that interdisciplinarity is not what people are really talking about when they talk about interdisciplinarity is that when you ask them why interdisciplinarity is important, they often answer by saying that it solves the problem of disciplinarity. But this is a non sequitur. Interdisciplinarity is simply disciplinarity raised to a higher power. It is not an escape from disciplinarity; it is the scholarly and pedagogical ratification of disciplinarity. If it is disciplinarity that academics want to get rid of, then they cannot call the new order interdisciplinarity. They also cannot call the new order anti-disciplinarity. It might be called postdisciplinarity, but that is asking for trouble. Maybe academics are stuck. Being stuck can certainly be pops into a professor’s head when she sees a vaguely familiar face in the hall. “Yes, I am still here,” is the usual answer, “and I’m working on that Incomplete for you.” There was also, traditionally, very little hard information about where students went after they graduated. Graduate programs today are increasingly asked to provide reports on job placement—although, for understandable reasons, these reports tend to emit an unnatural glow. An employed graduate, wherever he or she happens to be working, is ipso facto a successfully placed graduate, and, at that moment, departmental attention relaxes. What happens to people after their initial placement is largely a matter of rumor and self-report. English was one of the fields surveyed in the two studies of the PhD. It is useful to look at, in part because it is a large field where employment practices have a significance that goes beyond courses for English majors. What the surveys suggest is that if doctoral education in English were a cartoon character, then about thirty years ago, it zoomed straight off a cliff, went into a terrifying fall, grabbed a branch on the way down, and has been clinging to that branch ever since. Things went south very quickly, not gradually, and then they stabilized. Statistically, the state of the discipline has been fairly steady for about twenty-five years, and the result of this is a kind of normalization of what in any other context would seem to be a plainly inefficient and intolerable

emotional story arc

Click anywhere on the chart to see the most significant emotional words — both positive & negative — from the corresponding section of the text…
This chart visualizes the the shifting emotional balance for the arc of this story, based on the emotional strength of the words in the prose, using techniques pioneered by the UVM Computational Story Lab. To create this story arc, we divided the complete manuscript text into 50 equal-sized chunks, each with 590 words, and then we scored each section by counting the number of strongly-emotional words, both positive and negative. The bars in the chart move downward whenever there’s conflict and sadness, and they move upward when conflicts are resolved, or when the characters are happy and content. The size of each bar represents the positive or negative word-count of that section.

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