Monday, June 6, 2011

Schlag on the Faculty Workshop

Pierre Schlag, Colorado Law, has posted a wickedly funny essay on The Faculty Workshop.  Among its virtues is its capturing of a certain awkwardness that sometimes transpires when historians present to law faculties:
Then there are, of course, the historians. I’m always mildly amused by (though also empathetic towards) the historians. They have a devil of a time because no one else knows how to engage with them:
“So, do I understand you correctly to be saying that, in the period 1776-1788, some farmers in New Jersey exported grain to New York. Is that right?”
“That’s right.”
“Well, that’s wrong. They didn’t.”
“But . . . But they did!”
“Well, let me ask you this then: What would you say if I said they didn’t?”
I'm not sure that the optimism implicit in Adam Kolber's How to Ask Questions at Conferences and Colloquia, posted earlier this year over at Prawfsblawg, will survive a reading of Schlag's one-paragraph catalog of standard workshop questions.  Anyone who's still unwilling to give up on the faculty workshop ought to give Kolber a look.

1 comment:

Shag from Brookline said...

"That's an excellent question."

When an academic or other expert being interviewed on TV says that, he/she is of course flattering the interviewer. But I imagine that in fact the interviewee had actually suggested that question in the pre-interview. So the interviewee's response, while appearing to be flattering to the interviewer, is also a reminder by the former of his/her superior intellect to that of the former. I don't know if it works the same way at a faculty workshop.

Perhaps Prof. Schlag might next address the selection of titles for books on the Constitution, especially those including the three (3) "Rs," "Restoring ..., " "Rehabilitating ... " and "Redemption .... " Stage 4 might call for an additional "R": "Revisionism .... "