11.0283 scholarship sub specie aeternitatis

Humanist Discussion Group (humanist@kcl.ac.uk)
Mon, 22 Sep 1997 21:02:25 +0100 (BST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 11, No. 283.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

Date: Mon, 22 Sep 1997 09:53:09 -0700
From: Patricia Galloway <PatGalloway@worldnet.att.net>
Subject: Re: 11.0281 publish & perish long-term projects?

In response to Espen's recall of Father Busa's remarks (each a jewel in
its own right), I would observe that projects of as long a term as Father
Busa's are likely to depend on people and institutions whose main
criteria of excellence are seen as eternal and who can fully devote
themselves to the project because it is of crucial importance to the
supporting institution and to those who devote their lives to it. In a
sense, (non-sectarian) universities and even the governments of
nation-states are too ephemeral to support projects of very large-scale
significance; the "project" of literary history, say, thus has to be
carried out by more informal structures (which if successful receive the
recognition of becoming named "schools" of thought/scholarship) built of
generations of professors and their students and the intellectual capital
they can build within universities and grant funders. From my old days as
a medievalist I have a calligraphed motto framed and propped against my
printer: "sub specie aeternitatis", which is how medieval religious
orders were meant to judge their work. I don't live up to it often
Pat Galloway

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