Pretty Unimpressed

October 4, 2011

We started this blog while one of us was studying for comprehensive exams, a process that teaches one to consume scholarly literature like a hobo getting his first hot meal in days–ie fast enough to make you sick. One friend compares it to doing a keg-stand. It’s a good way to survey the general field of acknowledgments, as did a friend-of-a-friend in the following email, names redacted to protect the unimpressed.

From: [redacted doctoral student]
Date: Thu, Jan 21, 2010 at 10:08 AM
Subject: Acknowledgements
To: [other doctoral students]

After having consumed about 100 books in the last few weeks, all replete with acknowledgments sections detailing extraordinarily profuse declarations of love and gratitude to the authors’ husband/wife/cat/God, I just came across the lamest, most equivocal thank you yet, this one from Allen Wood’s Kantian Ethics:

“My wife Rega Wood was supportive and helpful in many ways.”

What, did they get divorced or something?! If, after putting up with my partner spending eight years of his/her life consumed by writing one book, that’s all the thanks I got, I’d be somewhat unimpressed.

P.S. Having now written out this email, I see that it is probably of no interest to anyone except those who have just consumed 3-4 books a day for the last 40 or so days.


Unheard melodies are sweeter.

October 4, 2011

“To my wife Anne, without whose silence this book never would have been

Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle (1962)

You are a delight!

October 4, 2011

“I would particularly like to thank…the staffs of…the FDR Library (except
the woman who refused to let me use the more convenient staff bathroom even
though I was pregnant).”

Cheryl Lynn Greenberg, Troubling the Waters: Black-Jewish Relations in the American Century (2010)

No Failure Here

October 4, 2011

“And last, I thank my mother, for nearly a year of work tracking down the copyright owners of the illustrations.”

James Elkins, On Pictures and the Words that Fail Them

Blurry Awesomeness

October 4, 2011

A good friend of ours passed this along more than a year ago and I’m sorry that we are just getting around to posting it now. She can’t remember which book it comes from, so get in touch if you recognize it

Tend your own garden

January 28, 2010

“Finally, I must acknowledge my greatest debt: to Rolf Soellner, the man à la mode, with whom I have shared a garden of love and a garden of friendship. Gratitude, as Dr. Johnson says, is a fruit of great cultivation; may he meanwhile accept this modest blossom as a symbol of what I owe him.”

Elise Goodman, Rubens: The Garden of Love as Conversatie à la Mode (1992)

A Motley Assembly

January 25, 2010

“If I were to assemble a group portrait of all the people who had something to do with the writing of this book, it would probably resemble one of Hogarth’s mob scenes: a motley assembly of dignitaries, wits, sparks, rakes, scholars, and students, some inebriated, most in a state of distraction, many falling asleep, and some (the smallest group of all) listening with intense and critical irritation. To this smallest group I feel obliged to express some gratitude. Without their help, this book would have been finished a lot sooner.”

W. J. T. Mitchell, Iconology: Image, Text, Ideology (1986)

Mama’s Boy

January 21, 2010

“According to Melanie Klein, Sigmund Freud’s early feminist rival, cultural production is a work of reparation offered to the maternal breast. Undoubtedly there is a significant relationship between Missing the Breast and my own ‘breast-feeding’ experience, however irretrievable the latter. My mother’s minute documentation of my first year of life includes tantalizing details, but I detect no resonance in memory. Still, throughout the writing of this book, which coincided with the birth of my two sons, I had the distinct feeling of making amends–not to my mother, directly, but to the breast in the sense elaborated at length in my study.” (2006)

Simon Richter, Missing the Breast: Gender, Fantasy, and the Body in the German Enlightenment (2006)

Of Limited Assistance

January 15, 2010

“Since I consulted the wealth of material assembled by Ludwig Burchard after I was already far along in my own research, the amount of basic new material I found in his documentation was limited. However, the comfort of finding my own discoveries corroborated or, alternatively, being forced to reconsider my solutions to problems in the face of differing interpretations played a significant role in the preparation of this book. And for many individual points, in particular concerning the history of the sketches for the series, I am indebted to the Burchard files.”

Svetlana Alpers, The Decoration of the Torre de la Parada (1971)

I Just Like the Names

January 15, 2010

“In Sens, Lydwine Saulnier-Pernuit and Bernard Brousse not only gave me access to the museum collections and the archives of the Société archéologique but also produced, at a moment’s notice, the key to the chapel of Sainte-Colombe in the cathedral of Saint-Étienne–this so that I could have access to Guillaume II Coustou’s Mausoleum of the Dauphin and the Dauphine.”

Erika Naginski, Sculpture and Enlightenment (2009)