3.904 do ut des, and where we are going (46)
Willard McCarty (MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca)
Fri, 5 Jan 90 20:37:22 EST
Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 904. Friday, 5 Jan 1990.
Date: Friday, 5 January 1990 1142-EST
Marian Sperberg-McQueen asks, rather testily, why humanists
have this propensity to always expect "freebies" from other
humanists (etc.) rather than being willing to pay fair costs.
I don't deny that she has a point, and that her observations
probably represent correctly the directions that humanistic
scholarship at large have been moving and will continue to
move in the forseeable future. But from the perspective of
this "old guard" scholar (I just became a grandfather for the
first time! and I have academic grandchildren as well!), it
should be noted that the feeling that what we have freely
invested in scholarship over the years should entitle us to
some equally free returns is difficult to overcome. The
question of scholarly responsibility to "the field" and the
corresponding responsibility of "the field" to the individual
scholar has, I think, been affected by the gradual (sometimes
not so gradual) changes in the attitudes towards finances
and related matters since the 1960s (e.g. "responsibility
center budgeting," pay-scale equalization efforts, availability
of grants and pressure to get them, allocation of overhead
recovery costs, creation of paid executive positions in
scholarly societies, etc.). We still are expected, frequently,
to give freely of our time and talents (e.g. evaluating
manuscripts for scholarly journals, grant proposals for NEH,
editing, publishing scholarly articles and monographs, etc.).
But it is less obvious these days whether there is an
appropriate return in kind from the presumed "support
structures" (institutional, professional, collegial).
Without condemning this perceived disparity, I would like
to see it discussed and defined more clearly, to help
each of us (young and old alike) to understand where we
came from and where we might be heading as "humanists."