Friday, April 23, 2010

Department of Good People Prosper: Elections to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

I just found out today that my Zenith colleague and mentor Richard Slotkin was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

This is so cool. Richie has been a special kind of mentor to me -- the volunteer kind of mentor. Prior to his retirement, he had an office down the hall from me and would occasionally wander down to check in. "How's it going?" he would say, which often led into a conversation about -- well, how things were going: how a book or article was coming along, how I was managing to chair the American Studies program with no faculty, how to solve a particular problem in my home department, strategies for recovering from the Unfortunate Events. I was once involved in a --ahem -- volatile encounter with one of Richie's dear friends on campus (over a matter of some importance, actually) and told him I was about to pull myself together to apologize so that the conflict wouldn't drag on and wreck future collaborations. "Don't apologize," he said nicely and firmly. "You were right."

Everybody who is in Richie's very wide circle of friends has a zillion stories like this so I won't go on. For my own part, it was astonishing to me to work for almost two decades with a scholar who is productive, brilliant, sane and generous.

The list of AAAS elections can be found here. It includes historians Ervand Abrahamian (Baruch), Greg Grandin (NYU), Carla Hesse (Berkeley), and Heinrich von Staden (Institute for Advanced Study).


Brian W. Ogilvie said...

Another historian on the list: Jan Goldstein, University of Chicago.

Historiann said...

Richie? You call him Richie? I had no idea.

I'm sorry to report that David Brooks was also elected to this same august body. For that reason alone, I'm sorry that it's taken them so long to elect Slotkin. I'm really glad to know that he's a really decent guy, too--that's always encouraging to hear. (Encouraging of decency, that is.)

Jeremy Saucier said...

Congratulations to Richard. His decency and generosity are indeed legendary. Well deserved!

Tenured Radical said...

Yes, David Brooks is a lapse: I don't mind so much that he is on the right (who seems, oddly to be moving center as the Tea party folk become more prominent: did you hear him on the Arizona legislaiton last night?), but what a dim bulb. On the other hand, Brooks is offset by Steve Martin and Francis Ford Coppola! I also think Greg Grandin is an offset, and I am particularly happy to see him on the list (former Zenith adjunct!) because of his work -- as a historian and an activist -- on behalf of labor and the left more generally in Latin America.

Historiann said...

Yes to the Dim Bulb evaluation of Brooks. His Dickipedia entry explains why he's so irritating to me precisely:

"Brooks is very interested in anthropology, psychology and sociology, and likes to apply the language and tools of these fields to his analysis of politics and pop culture. He wishes to be taken very seriously by scholars in these fields, and would be, if only he hadn’t been born extremely lazy.

Because of this condition, Brooks is unable to do any of the actual analysis and research that would ordinarily give a person credibility in these fields. Many have criticized the insular nature of academia. They claim that those who, like Brooks, were born lazy, or, to use the more politically correct term, “differently incentivized,” are discriminated against.

Brooks has been able to surmount these obstacles with surprising success. At an early age, he resolved that he would overcome his disability through a combination of dishonesty and smiling. This potent combination worked to a stunning degree, and Brooks has become one of the leaders in public influence, as well as serving as a role model to those all over the world who happened to have been born lazy and dishonest and have nice smiles."

(I'm sorry, I'm a useless blogger because I can't embed links!)

Comrade PhysioProf said...

That's a fucking disgrace that they elected David Fucking Brooks. That dude is so full of fucking shit, the whole fucking earth tilts when he walks around. He is a lying dirtbag, with not an ounce of intellectual integrity.

Comrade PhysioProf said...

OK. Now I'm confused. There's also rich-ass business douches on the list. All you have to do is be some fuckwad CEO of a big fucking company and you get on there? What the fuck does ripping off bajillions of customers and stockholders to stuff your own pockets with lucre have to with "Arts and Sciences"?