Try Middle Ages Spread Instead: Books

By Gray, Sandra Leaton; Brabazon, Tara et al. | The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE, October 17, 2013 | Go to article overview

Try Middle Ages Spread Instead: Books


Gray, Sandra Leaton, Brabazon, Tara, Shook, Karen, The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE


Sandra Leaton Gray on why old-fashioned recipes would benefit undergraduate fast food e-junkies.

Digital Dieting: From Information Obesity to Intellectual Fitness

By Tara Brabazon

Ashgate, 342pp, Pounds 35.00

ISBN 9781472409379 and 9393 (e-book)

Published 3 October 2013

Once upon a time, university lecturers swanned around market towns and small cities across Europe wearing impressive black gowns. They spent their days earning a decent crust teaching the teenage sons of the middle classes and nobility how to read books and understand them. Indeed, if you walk around modern Cambridge and Oxford, you can see the vestiges of this post-monastic university structure in the design of the colleges and the rhythm of the day. It weaves its way through the curriculum as well - it's hard to leave there as a student without inadvertently experiencing some of the joys of the medieval trivium and quadrivium in their various contemporary forms. This might mean learning the point of mathematics from someone sat next to you at dinner, discovering how to debate (aka "disputation", albeit no longer in Latin) and being encouraged to take a casual interest in astronomy via open evenings at the university's fine observatory. The medieval curriculum and its quest for knowledge may be under the modern radar, but it is certainly still there - quiet, timeless and deep.

This respect for the life of the mind is something all universities still aspire to. We see the words "knowledge", "scholarship" and "collegiality" in most of the documents that pass across our desks as academics in the 21st century. Students are encouraged to visit libraries, to read and to discuss what they are learning. We gently try to share this knowledge, so carefully nurtured, with the outside world. We hope that students will be of like mind and that they will, in turn, take over the baton of knowledge from us on behalf of mankind. In many ways, to be an academic is ultimately to have faith in human nature.

That's the ideal, anyway. In her book Digital Dieting, Tara Brabazon highlights how precarious this model of learning has suddenly become in the aftermath of the post-1980s technological revolution. (Before that, all lecturers had to worry about was the introduction of the printing press, making dictation by candlelight unnecessary, and forcing them to raise their game a bit when actually interacting with students.) If you want to feel frustrated and anxious in equal measure, read this book's introduction, which includes extracts of student emails sent to Brabazon in the course of her work and which she carefully analyses. It is clear in reading these spurious essay excuses, cheeky requests for editing services and frankly lazy demands for bullet-point summaries of complex subject matter that education has become as commoditised as it is possible to be, enabled all too often by university administrators keen to force lecturers to use clunky and frustrating multimedia delivery tools in the name of progress.

Linked to this commoditisation, argues Brabazon, is the newly unlimited access to knowledge. Previously if you wanted to know something, you searched in an archive or library and gradually drilled down into the subject matter. Building one's own knowledge from this process was often uncomfortable but was immensely rewarding. Much has changed. We are now presented with large volumes of knowledge that satisfy us easily with comparatively little intellectual effort. Brabazon uses the analogy of fast food to represent this shift, which links nicely to the title of the book. Yet it leaves any sane lecturer feeling hopeless and rather depressed at the apparently sinking prospects for students' intellectual development. Even those who do read books and journal articles often do little more than skim the surface, plucking quotations out of context and bandying around half-understood nuggets of knowledge in order to sound scholarly. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Try Middle Ages Spread Instead: Books
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.