Monday, December 14, 2015

Fragment: I was in despair

Fragment from: Wilson, John A. Thousands of Years: An Archaeologist’s Search for Ancient Egypt. New York: Scribner, 1972.
Sprengling knew that he would be out of the country at the time of my oral examination in later May 1926. He told me not to worry about any testing of my ability in Classical Arabic as he had been satisfied with my performance in class. So I dropped that field out of my consideration and I boned up assiduously on other subjects. The examination itself dragged on for three hours. For well over two hours Breasted  took me over the hurdles in hieroglyphic, hieratic, and history. The rest of the department sat back in boredom. Since Breasted's current interests were pretty well known, that long grind went off satisfactorily. Then he turned me over to the other examiners. There were a few desultory questions, and my answers were less precise because I was rather weary by that time.  Then Breasted announced that, since the examiner in Arabic was not present, he himself would set some questions. The shock of that unexpected attack emptied my brain. Not only could I not translate the Arabic, I could not even pronounce it. It was a sorry performance.
At long last I was excused and went outside into the museum to wait for the examining committee to make its decision. I was in despair. How could they pass me after such a collapse? The wait seemed interminable. Finally the secretary of the Department, George Allen, came out to summon me. In his characteristically cautious way he told me first that they had been disappointed. Then he went on to elaborate: instead of passing me summa cum laude, they have been forced to pass me only magna cum laude.
page 46.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Fragment: "beautiful and amiable women"

Fragment from: Layard, Austen Henry. Sir Henry Layard Autobiography and Letters from His Childhood until His Appointment as H.M. Amdassador to Madrid Edited by the Hon. William N. Bruce, with a Chapter on His Parliamentary Carreer by the Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur Otway. 2 volumes vols. London: John Murray, 1903.
At Aleppo I found Mr Mitford, who, tired of waiting for me, was about to continue his journey towards Baghdad. He had established himself in a small lodging in the Christian quarter outside the town, where I joined him. We remained there together for a week, spending  most of our time with our kind and hospitable friends, the Barkers, who collected in their house the best native and the only European society in the city. There with pleasant and instructive conversation, for there  were at that time several accomplished and interesting men residing in Aleppo, with beautiful and amiable women; and with picnics in the gardens and the neighbourhood which were then in the full glories of Spring, the few days we could spare passed too rapidly away. I still look back to that short week, which is like an oasis in my toilsome and lonely wanderings.
page 283.

“Confessions of a Humble Country Historian.”

Reading autobiographies outside of the area of scholars of Antiquity.  This one is very interesting.

Enteen, George M. “Confessions of a Humble Country Historian.” Perspectives on History, May 1997.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Fragment: It is best to slip away...

Fragment from Murray, Margaret Alice. My First Hundred Years. London: W. Kimber, 1963. 
Though I ought to have regarded myself long ago as being on the shelf, I have deliberately refused to go on that uncomfortable flat resting-place, and continue to do some research, which I hope may be of use to other researchers. Now I would give a piece of advice to those about to retire from a post they have held for years. Never allow your colleagues to give you that heart-breaking ceremony "a good send-off", i.e. a big dinner followed by speeches in your honour, with possibly the presentation of  some object to which all your friends have subscribed. The recipient of these tokens of esteem and affection will know when he comes to reply that he is no longer a part of the organization which has been a part of his life, and that knowledge will try his self-control to its utmost limits. It is best to slip away without formality, and to stay away until your successor is firmly established.
Not having had "a good send-off" into limbo, and not liking the dullness of that dismal place, I set out to have a new career, and went out to Petrie's dig in Palestine...
page 105.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Fragment: Collaboration

Fragment from: Gardiner, Alan H. My Working Years. London: Coronet Press, 1962.
One day [Battiscomb] Gunn brought me a sheaf of articles on different points of Egyptian Grammar which he had written without my knowledge, and which he wished to submit to my criticism. To my great astonishment these articles included syntactical discoveries of the greatest importance. It is possible, or even probable that the original  work reflected much of our common discussions, but many of Gunn's results were entirely new to me, and I was greatly excited thus to become acquainted with things which could not be described otherwise than as epoch-making. But now Gunn asked me to hand back his typescripts because as he said 'I wish to make some additions and reconsider some points'. To this I replied that he had worked at my expense for a number of years without  giving me any quid pro quo and that I intended to keep his articles and to get them printed. He was very angry with this ultimatum of mine, but he had no choice but to accept it, and I carried out my threat and--made his reputation! In Germany, Gunn's Studies in Egyptian Syntax (1924) created great interest and, in particular, Sethe never tired of referring in his lectures to die Gunnische Regel! I daresay that my treatment of my old friend Gunn in this matter was unpleasantly dictatorial, but it was not long before he forgave me, as will be seen from the paragraph of acknowledgments which I quoted above. It will be seen from the bibliography of Gunn which his Egyptian pupil, Bakir, compiled after his death (Ann. du Serv. L. 423-5) that his subsequent publications were relatively meager when viewed in the light of his indisputable genius, but for this there were two reasons, firstly that he was an incorrigible perfectionist and, secondly, because he became enthusiastically absorbed in teaching, an occupation in which he achieved great success, see JEA XXXV, 105.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Fragment: Who's it for?

Fragment from Grene, David. Of Farming & Classics: A Memoir. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.
The obvious answer as to an audience is one's family. Yes, this is written for my family. But not only the family. Maybe the oddity of the conjunction of my two interests, farming and classical literature, is the reason for describing the way I went. I rather doubt it, for so odd it isn't, though a little unusual. Maybe the book is due to a warmth of feeling for the two professions, some perhaps misguided zeal for two causes not very high on the world's popularity list. That's nearer it I think. Or maybe it's just a rechewing of the joys of the past, and sometime their opposites. I know that many people believe in the genuine isolation of the past: let it bury its own dead, its successes, its failures; continuity is the supreme illusion. I have never been able to see it like that.
page 4.

Fragment: Parentage

Fragment from: Scarborough, William Sanders. The Autobiography of William Sanders Scarborough: An American Journey from Slavery to Scholarship. Edited with an Introduction by Michele Valerie Ronnick. African American Life Series. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2005.
According to the census of 1850 there were in the state of Georgia [in the decade of my birth] 193 free colored males between the ages of twenty and thirty. My father, Jeremiah Scarborough, was one of this number having been set free some years before by his master who was convinced that slavery was wrong and washed his hands of the stain. The same census give 287 as the number of free colored females in Georgia between the ages of twenty and thirty. My mother. Frances Gwynn, was not included in this number.
page 23.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Fragment: Slander

Fragment from: Meissner, Bruno. Verleumdung. Zeuthen: Selbstverlage des Verfassers, 1933.
Die nationalsozialistische Bewegung hat neben vielem anderen aus das Gute gezeitigt, das wir alle uns mehr als früher mit Rassenforschung und Familiengeschichte befassen. Jeder will wissen, wie seine Voreltern hiessen, wann, wo und wie sie lebten, und ob sie arischer Herkunft waren. Allerdings interessieren sich auch Fremde manchmal mehr als nötig für solche Dinge und suchen, meist ohne auf die Quellen zurückzugehen, teils in gut- teils in bösartiger Absicht nachzuweisen, dass irgend jemand, auf den sie ihr Augenmerk gerichtet haben, Jude oder mindestens Halbjude sei. Gegen derartige Unterstellungen, wenn sie unzutreffend sind, muss natürlich scharf Front gemacht werden. Leider bin auch ich in eine solche unangenehme Lage gekommen.
page 5.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Fragment: Audience

Fragment from Donker van Heel, Koenraad. The Three Muskebeers: Down and Out in Paris and Pisa. [Leiden], 1993.
This booklet is merely meant to serve as a souvenir for those who are willing & and able to procure & appreciate it. That is, for those who appreciate how to wield an axe. There is something for those, who appreciate the razorsharp variety & something for those who only understand the blunt. There is also something for those, who don't understand anything at all.
page [i].

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Fragment: Autobiography vs. Memoir

Fragment from Frye, Richard N. Greater Iran: A 20th-Century Odyssey. Costa Mesa: Mazda, 2005.
An autobiography is the story of one's life, while memoirs, we are told, are more ambiguous than events in life, including what one heard or witnessed, sometimes of historical interest, but more often of personal situations in which he or she has participated. A story or anecdote, either true or fictitious, may have been heard or even read by the author, and included in either memoirs or autobiography, or even expanded into a work of literature. In the pages which follow I plead guilty to a mixture of autobiography and memoir, but a lifetime of writing historical prose, much of it accessible to the lay public, has given me a sense of the sweep of 3000 years of the history of 'Greater Iran', and this enters these pages, as well as some of the actors in the cultural and political history of the Middle East and Central Asia.
page xi.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Fragment: Elevator Speech

Fragment from Tarler, David. “An Afterlife of Sorts.” Journal of Eastern Mediterranian Archaeology and Heitage Studies 3, no. 3 (2015): 270–76. doi:10.5325/jeasmedarcherstu.3.3.0270.

“I used to be young and foolish, and poor but happy, but after a while, I was just foolish and poor.” That is the terse, “elevator” response I've been giving for more than 20 years to the question, “Why did you leave archaeology in Israel for law school in the United States?”
The decision to change careers (and countries) was not an easy one, and it took a long time. I had lived in Israel for almost 17 years, beginning when I was 19 and a transfer student from The University of Chicago to the Departments of Archaeology and Jewish History at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
page 270.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Fragment: Third Person Autobiography

Fragment from Albright, William Foxwell. “William Foxwell Albright.” In American Spiritual Autobiographies, Fifteen Self-Portraits. Edited by Lois Finkelstein, 156–81. New York: Harper, 1948.
In the following concise "spiritual autobiography", the subject will attempt to appraise his own development, in the light of the more pertinent facts of his education, following this sketch by a series of brief treatments of five interrelated themes where his present views have been most clearly influenced by the external facts of his education and experience. Couching the recital in the third person and omitting subjective  judgements on his own development on his own development as far as possible, he will bear in mind that the reader will scarcely be interested in any biographical detail except in so far as it throws convincing light on the main theme.
page 157.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Fragment: Alt-Ac Precariousness

Fragment from Kansa, Sarah Whitcher, and Eric Kansa. “Reflections on a Road Less Traveled: Alt-Ac Archaeology.” Journal of Eastern Mediterranian Archaeology and Heitage Studies 3, no. 3 (2015): 293–98. doi:10.5325/jeasmedarcherstu.3.3.0293. []

While independent nonprofit status offers us more opportunity for longer-term intellectual and academic freedom than perhaps experienced by many university-based alt-acs, the continual need to secure more funding to maintain our salaries does take its toll. Granting is highly competitive. Regardless of a proposal's other merits, one poor review by someone with a different theoretical or political agenda can sink a grant application. For tenured faculty, such issues are time-consuming annoyances. For alt-acs—including us—these issues can mean the end of one's salary. Moreover, unlike tenure-track faculty, this precarious status represents a permanent state. Alt-acs have no means of getting tenure and no means of ever acquiring the academic freedom that comes with a guaranteed paycheck.
That precariousness and contingency highlights the intellectual costs of neoliberalism. We would be more outspoken about certain issues and directions in “digital archaeology” if we had some of the protections of tenure. Indeed, our activism and advocacy on certain issues, especially on open access and concerns about over-centralization in digital systems has done us some damage in funding competitions, at least judging from criticisms in failed proposals. Obviously, criticism and debate are necessary; however, they are activities that are more survivable by tenured faculty than by contingent alt-acs.
page 295.

Fragment: Agent Provocateur

Fragment from Silberman, Neil Asher. “Help Wanted: Choosing an Alternative or Mainstream Archaeological Career?” Journal of Eastern Mediterranian Archaeology and Heitage Studies 3, no. 3 (2015): 306–12. doi:10.5325/jeasmedarcherstu.3.3.0306. []
Through the 1980s and 1990s, I published a series of books and articles on the politics and hidden ideologies of archaeology. To some proper academic archaeologists that made me a “journalist,” to others, a “historian of archaeology,” and to others who held an especially reverent attitude toward the academic discipline, some kind of an agent provocateur. “You are doing a lot of damage,” a well-known publisher of a biblical archaeology magazine once told me. The wife of an up-and-coming scholar chastised me for not being respectful of real archaeologists. And so it went. Journalists assumed I was not one of them but an archaeologist, while archaeologists saw me as some sort of unconventional hanger-on.
pages 308-309.

Fragment: Revised Expectations

Fragment from Lichtheim, Miriam. Telling It Briefly : A Memoir of My Life. Fribourg: University Press, 1999.
A friendly shelter during my final year in Chicago was given me by Pierre Delougaz and his wife Natasha, who had a furnished room to spare. Living with them, and witnessing Natasha's prospering career as a librarian, gave me the idea that I too could become a professional librarian, and could thereby escape the uncertainties, indeed the unlikelihood, of obtaining a university position in Egyptology. Looking back on it, I wonder how I could have thought that a competent young Egyptologist could expect to obtain a professional position in a university or a museum. It was mere youthful ignorance.
page 35.

Fragment: voilà tout!

Fragment from Müller, F. Max. My Autobiography:  A Fragment. New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1901.
One confession I have to make, and one for which I can hardly hope for absolution, whether from my friends or from my enemies. I have never done anything; I have never been a doer, a canvasser, a wirepuller, a manager, in the ordinary sense of these words. I have also shrunk from agitation, from clubs and from cliques, even from most respectable associations and societies. Many people would call me an idle, useless, and indolent man, and though I have not wasted many hours of my life, I cannot deny the charge that I have neither fought battles, nor helped to conquer new countries, nor joined any syndicate to roll up a fortune. I have been a scholar, a Stubengelehrter and voilà tout!
Much as I admired Ruskin when I saw him with his spade and wheelbarrow, encouraging and helping his undergraduate friends to make a new road from one village to another, I never myself took to digging, and shoveling, and carting. Nor could I quite agree with him, happy as I always felt in listening to him, when he said: " What we think, or what we know, or what we believe, is in the end of little consequence. The only thing of consequence is what we do." My view has always been the very opposite!
pages 308-309.

Fragment: Leaving Bodrum

Fragment from Gough, Mary. The Plain and the Rough Places : An Account of Archaeological Journeying through the Plain and the Rough Places of the Roman Province of Cilicia in Southern Turkey. London: Chatto & Windus, 1954.
As our cart lurched down on to the ferry by which we had to cross the river Ceyhan, we asked ourselves whether the villagers had, in fact, been  so tiresome, so importunate, so inquisitive as we had thought; or whether it was we ourselves who had been boorish and hyper-sensitive, unco-operative and ungrateful. We found the question unanswerable, and saddened, we bumped off on the dusty track of the far side of the river, hating the cart, hating the plump, garrulous wife of the muhtar who sat next to the driver, hating the hot sun and the dust and ourselves for being so weak, so tired, and so temperamental.
 pages 74-75.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Fragments: Same as it ever was,,,

Milton Anastos on plagiarism in Anastos, Milton V. “The Life of Learning.” In The Life of Learning, Edited by Douglas Greenberg and Stanley Katz with the  Assistance of Candace Frede, 37–52. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.

But in our personal devotion and feeling of gratitude to our instructors lurks a great danger which I mention now with some trepidation. Young students in their enthusiasm are often exploited by their seniors. I myself suffered two frustrating experiences, to which I must briefly allude. Both of the professors involved in these episodes are now dead, and I suppress their names in this chronicle. De mortuis nil nisi malum. For one of them I wrote a whole book, consisting of texts (which I either constituted myself or revised and re-edited) and translations. These were brought together in a large and impressive volume in which I am mentioned briefly in the preface  without any acknowledgment of the extent of my contribution. The alleged author took over my work in its entirety, "jazzed up" my translations (as he told me orally) (without reference to the original texts), and added a few brief notes, and took the whole credit for the volume for himself.

The second of this pair of plagiarists I worked for for about four whole years collating and checking Greek manuscripts  to establish a critical text, but got no word of recognition except for one one brief sentence in the preface. Perhaps I may be forgiven if I remark that these few words. though gracious in themselves, were the very least reward that could have been offered for my long and selfless services, especially in view of the fact that many of out colleagues were aware of the extent of my efforts and had become restive about this kind of academic exploitation.

These were my first publications, and I now list them in my bibliography as "works written in collaboration with other scholars."
page 39-40.

Fragment: Kenneth Dover "On Autobiogaphy"

Fragments from Kenneth Dover "On Autobiography", the first chapter of:  Dover, Kenneth James. Marginal Comment: A Memoir. London: Duckworth, 1994.

My father had a safe, pensionable job in the lower middle-reaches of the Civil Service. I began my professional career at 28, after five years as a student and five as a soldier, with savings of £500 and a legacy of £1,400 from my grandmother, at a salary of £700 a year, in a job which I knew I could not lose except through some gross delinquency or deficiency on my part.
page 1.
Early in 1994 Stephen Milligan, a Member of Parliament universally (and justly) liked and admired for his moral character, died accidentally while enacting  an elaborate and perilous masturbatory fantasy. Since I found his fantasy grotesques and entirely without appeal, I wondered how many other people found it so, and this led to a question of the greatest importance: among all the people I have ever known, how many are there of whom I can say that I know what fantasies they entertain (and perhaps enact)? The answer was quick and firm: there are none.
page 2, f.n. 1.
Some of the data which I have selected as important determinants of my life will seem to the reader ridiculous, embarrassing, contemptible or disgusting. Some readers, indeed, may decide that I am a lunatic. If so, they may still find something of historical and sociological interest in the process by which a lunatic was so often invested (by election) with honours and responsibilities.
page 3.
Isn't it nice to know that there are people who permit me - my God, they give me the right! - to compose whatever kind of book I wish?
page 4.

A Drink with David Stronach

I was happy to see David Stronach on Friday evening 20 February 2015 in the ASOR hotel bar in Atlanta. We sat for a while with drinks (not port), and I outlined the autobiography project. He told me he was writing autobiographical essays and that one had appeared in BackDirt. He was whisked off to a dinner with friends, I to other matters. Later in the evening I found the article.
Max [Mallowan]—careful not to neglect the education of a junior assistant in one of the finer points of life—also once surprised me at the end of one especially good dinner by suddenly producing a bottle of port. At that same moment he asked, “David, do you know how to feed a Stilton?” I confessed that I did not. “Like this,” said he, all the while decanting a quantity of fine port into what was still left of the majestic Stilton.
Stronach, David. “Max Mallowan and Agatha Christie Mallowan: Some Memories from Iraq and Iran.” Backdirt: Annual Review of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA, December 2014, 68–76.