Cover image for Quick studies : the best of Lingua Franca
Quick studies : the best of Lingua Franca
Star, Alexander, 1967-
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002.
Physical Description:
xxvii, 514 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Added Author:
Added Uniform Title:
Lingua franca.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E169.12 .Q34 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Hailed by "The Washington Post" as "surprising, substantive, and sophisticated" "Lingua Franca" covered the intellectual life of the 1990s with wit and passion and helped establish many of the leading voices in American journalism today. This is a collective portrait of the American intellectual in its native habitats.

Author Notes

Alexander Star He is currently the Ideas editor of The Boston Globe. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The New Republic, and The London Review of Books

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Lingua Franca chronicled the strange and boisterous controversies in academia-from a feminist professor accused of sexual harassment to the debate over which crustacean the "pair of ragged claws" belonged to in T.S. Eliot's "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"-throughout the 1990s, steering a narrow course between theory-loving academics and the journalists and pundits who revile them. Although it folded in last year's economic tumult, the consistently crisp, thoughtful, lively writing in these 40 pieces is hardly that of a fly-by-night publication. Selected by long-time LF editor Star, the reportage, essays and profiles include a poignant account of novelist Milan Kundera's fallings-out with his translators as he struggled hopelessly to find the perfect English translations of his work; a profile of Xanax-popping prankster Slavoj Zizek, the Slovenian philosopher who once slipped subversive messages into Communist propaganda; and a stinging self-denunciation by a former literary theorist who has turned against jargon-laden academic criticism. Other subjects include the Yale graduate student strike; Yugoslavian Marxist dissidents who became committed to Serbian nationalism; and primatologists' blinding love of bonobo chimps. Full of memorable characters and colorful conflicts, the pieces do justice to the complexity of the intellectual and social questions at stake. In his introduction, Star notes that in spite of the awards and accolades the magazine received, its circulation remained relatively small. That means there are a lot of people who missed these pieces the first time around. They're in for a treat. (Sept.) Forecast: Anthologies aren't usually big sellers, and, sadly, there's little to suggest this one will be any different, given Lingua Franca's small circulation. Still, higher-brow media people and academics of all stripes will probably seek it out. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

During its brief tenure from 1990 to 2001, Lingua Franca filled a unique niche, covering contemporary controversies, trends, people, and issues in academia. Its authors, drawn from the ranks of both journalists and scholars, entertained and informed their readers by approaching the escapades and ideas of intellectuals as newsworthy. The themes represented by the roughly three dozen essays in this collection stem from both the scholarship and the mundane work situations of academics. Included are a discussion of the controversies surrounding interpretations of research on chimpanzee and bonobo societies; Alan Sokal's article unveiling his infamous hoax; comments from a professor troubled by his experience on a search committee charged with accomplishing a minority hire, accompanied by a response from the successful candidate; and an examination of the divergence of thinking around 1960s scholarship as approached by older vs. younger historians. For its inimitable insights into the intelligentsia of the 1990s, this collection is highly recommended, especially for any academic library that did not hold a subscription to the periodical.-Jean S. Caspers, Linfield Coll., McMinnville, OR (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Alexander StarAlan SokalScott McLemeeFrank LentricchiaMichael SchudsonRobert S. BoyntonLarissa MacFarquharJames MillerG. KindrowMichael S. WardellMargaret TalbotEmily NussbaumDaniel MendelsohnChristopher SheaJack HittRuth ShalitTed AntonHillary FreyRick PerlsteinJames SurowieckiLaura SecorEyal PressJennifer SchuesslerScott ShermanJames SchwartzJim HoltJim HoltHelen EpsteinDaniel ZalewskiJim HoltColin McGinnJim HoltJim HoltEmily EakinJames RyersonJim HoltJames RyersonAdam ShatzCaleb Crain
Introductionp. ix
Part I The Reaction to Theory
A Physicist Experiments With Cultural Studiesp. 3
Mystery Science Theaterp. 10
The Reality Gulfp. 22
Last Will and Testament of an Ex-Literary Criticp. 25
Paper Tigersp. 39
Enjoy Your Zizekp. 55
Putting the Camp Back Into Campusp. 71
Is Bad Writing Necessary?p. 75
Part II The Tribulations of the Academic Life
The Candidatep. 97
The Candidate's Storyp. 107
A Most Dangerous Methodp. 112
Thanks for Nothingp. 150
The Standp. 154
Letterheadsp. 173
In the Franklin Factoryp. 177
The Man Who Knew Too Muchp. 192
Part III The Political Professor
The Killing of Professor Culianup. 217
The Critique of Pure Popp. 231
Who Owns the Sixties?p. 234
Genovese's Marchp. 247
Testaments Betrayedp. 269
The Color Testp. 295
Moo!p. 312
A Return to Javap. 317
Part IV Scientific Subjects
Oh My Darwin!p. 339
Dream Onp. 358
Little Big Manp. 361
Bonobos in Paradisep. 364
The Gossip Instinctp. 378
The Looking-Glass Warp. 382
Part V Philosophical Investigations
Out of Body, Out of Mindp. 387
What's So Funny?p. 396
Whose Idea Is It, Anyway?p. 399
Habeas Corpusp. 417
The Quest for Uncertaintyp. 421
Higher Superstitionsp. 441
The Mystery of the Millionaire Metaphysicianp. 444
Part VI Arts and Letters
Black Like Mep. 463
Shell Gamep. 480
Infidelityp. 484
Contributorsp. 501
Acknowledgmentsp. 505
Indexp. 507