Saturday, January 8, 2011

Academic Carelessness

I'm working on a research article on Galdos's Lo prohibido right now. As I'm reading the existing scholarship on the novel, I keep discovering how careless some academics are. One recognized authority in the field misspeaks and says something that is very obviously not true, and then everybody starts repeating it like trained parrots. "The protagonist of Lo prohibido falls in love with his three cousins," they keep saying, even though any familiarity whatsoever with this text makes it clear that this is not the case. Jose Maria, the main character of the novel, falls in love with two of his cousins and flirts with the thirs one while pasionately in love with the second. This realist novel makes this fact as obvious as humanly possible.

The same thing happened to me when I was doing research for my doctoral dissertation. There was this article on one of my primary sources that kept referring to some character in the novel called "Sagrario." I didn't remember any Sagrario in the book, which freaked me out because it's unacceptable to be so unfamiliar with one of your primary sources as to lose track of a character. Only later did I realize that the academic in question meant the character whose name was Rosario, only for some reason the article's author kept calling her Sagrario. Even though this was not the novel's protagonist, Rosario still was very important to the novel's plot. So it's kind of scary that neither the article's author nor her reviewers caught this repeated slip.

P.S. As I mentioned before, I freed myself up from all other obligations in order to dedicate the next 8 months almost exclusively to research. Prepare to hear a lot about it on this blog. :-)


StandTall-The Activist said...

Best of luck with your research! I do hope you corrected the academic error and carelessness... It is important.

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