No one would think of the call for papers as a literary genre. But the CFP can be distinguished from the usual run of academic memoranda by its appeal to the reader’s curiosity, ambition, and capacity to daydream -- and occasionally by its test of one’s power to suspend disbelief.
Every so often, one scholar will assess another’s book so harshly that it becomes legendary. The most durable example must be A.E. Housman, whose anti-blurbs retain their sting after a century and more. Housman is best-known for the verse in his collection A Shropeshire Lad (1896). But classicists still remember his often pointed reviews of other philologists’ editions of ancient poetry, and can sometimes quote snippets from memory.
Over the years there has emerged a body of Playboy scholarship, which I read around in, every once in a while, for the pictures. Actually, including images from the magazine seems to be a fairly recent development in this field. The pioneers were unable to do so (not much room for porn in the academic publishing world until fairly recently), and their their work sometimes suffered for it. A case in point is “Hugh M. Hefner: Guardian of the Faith” by the late J.A. Ward, appearing the summer 1963 issue of The Antioch Review.
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