[Milton-L] soliciting of reviews

Mario DiCesare dicesare1 at mindspring.com
Thu Dec 11 20:16:07 EST 2008


Hannibal has it just right, I think. Even down to the withdrawn review. I was once 
asked to review a book which, in the end, I thought was a poor piece of work. I 
finally wrote to the editor saying no good would come of printing a negative review 
of the book. He agreed, but very reluctantly. As Hannibal puts it, "really bad books 
should best be just ignored."

Mario



Hannibal Hamlin wrote:
> I'm intrigued by the idea of peer-reviewed reviews, which I've not heard 
> of before, but I'm inclined to agree with Mario DiCesare.  I tend to 
> feel that a contract of some sort is involved in the commissioning of a 
> review.  For instance (and this relates to another of the perennial 
> problems of reviews -- the bad review), in many cases, I'm not sure 
> anyone benefits from a totally savage, or even totally negative review.  
> But as review editor, I wouldn't feel comfortable not printing any 
> review that I had commissioned, since that would seem unfair to the 
> reviewer.  On the other hand, I can think of one instance where a 
> reviewer submitted a review and himself expressed concern about how 
> negative it was.  He suggested that there was little to be gained from 
> publishing it and left it to me.  In that case, I decided not to print 
> the review, and both I and the reviewer agreed that was best.  Reviews 
> certainly need to be critical when criticism is merited, but perhaps 
> most really bad books should best be just ignored.  I might feel 
> differently, though, about a really problematic book by a 
> well-established scholar.  (This raises another question, I know, but I 
> really am interested in the ethics of reviewing, and there are so many 
> questions that seem never to get discussed.  Nor, interestingly, does 
> reviewing ever seem part of graduate programs.)
>  
> Hannibal
> 
> On Thu, Dec 11, 2008 at 5:39 PM, Mario DiCesare 
> <dicesare1 at mindspring.com <mailto:dicesare1 at mindspring.com>> wrote:
> 
>     Dear Colleagues,
> 
>     I agree with Hannibal Hamlin and John Leonard on this matter.
> 
>     I would like to raise a related issue. When one -- let's say J.B. --
>     is asked to review a book, the request is presumably based on J.B.'s
>     scholarly credentials. The review is J.B.'s work; he or she is
>     willing to submit it for the judgement, agreement, criticism,
>     whatever of those who read the review.
> 
>     Under ordinary circumstances, it seems to me improper for the
>     editor(s) who requested the review to review it themselves and
>     revise it or even reject it. I can think of exceptions, but I doubt
>     very much that routine reviewing of reviewers' work is sound or
>     defensible policy.
> 
>     Mario A. DiCesare
> 
> 
> 
> 
>     John Leonard wrote:
> 
>         I agree with Hannibal Hamlin.  It is a very bad practice to
>         solicit reviews.  Even if an abuse does not occur, the practice
>         is open to abuse and should be discouraged.  Hannibal is right
>         to take a stand on this.
>          John Leonard
> 
>            ----- Original Message -----
>            *From:* Hannibal Hamlin <mailto:hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com
>         <mailto:hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com>>
>            *To:* John Milton Discussion List
>         <mailto:milton-l at lists.richmond.edu
>         <mailto:milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>>
>            *Sent:* Thursday, December 11, 2008 2:36 PM
>            *Subject:* Re: [Milton-L] Book Reviewer sought: _Is Milton Better
>            thanShakespeare_?
> 
>            Dear Scott, and other Miltonists,
>                No doubt this will stir up some dust, but may I raise a
>         question
>            about scholarly reviewing?  Perhaps some of you attended the
>            interesting roundtable on scholarly reviewing at last year's
>         RSA, at
>            which many practical and ethical issues were discussed.  One that
>            occurs to me in this context, especially since I am a Book Review
>            Editor myself, is whether it is a good idea to make an open
>         call for
>            reviewers for a particular book.  One specific problem I see
>         is that
>            such a call might attract someone with a particular axe to grind,
>            perhaps even a personal one (whatever a "personal axe" is!), of
>            which the review editor may not be aware.  I don't mean to
>         pick on
>            Scott either, since some journals openly list "books for review,"
>            and the Sixteenth Century Journal actually had a table of
>         such books
>            at this year's SCSC, from which any passing scholar might make a
>            selection.        Thoughts?
>                Hannibal
> 
> 
>                On 12/11/08, *Scott Howard* <showard at du.edu
>         <mailto:showard at du.edu> <mailto:showard at du.edu
>         <mailto:showard at du.edu>>>
> 
>            wrote:
> 
> 
>                Dear Colleagues,
> 
>                We are looking for someone to review Nigel Smith's _Is Milton
>                Better than Shakespeare?_ for Volume Two of APPOSITIONS:
>         Studies
>                in Renaissance / Early Modern Literature & Culture, which
>         will
>                be published in May, 2009.
> 
>                If you are interested, please be in touch soon.
> 
>                Appositions is an electronic, peer-reviewed, international
>                journal for studies in Renaissance/early modern
>         literature and
>                culture.  ISSN forthcoming.
> 
>                Yours,
>                Scott Howard
> 
>                ///
> 
>                W. Scott Howard
>                Associate Professor
>                Director of Graduate Studies
>                Department of English
>                University of Denver
>                http://mysite.du.edu/~showard/
> 
>                ///
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> 
> 
>            --    Hannibal Hamlin
>            Associate Professor of English
>            The Ohio State University
>            Burkhardt Fellow,
>            The Folger Shakespeare Library
>            201 East Capitol Street SE
>            Washington, DC 20003
>            hamlin.22 at osu.edu/ <http://hamlin.22@osu.edu/>
>         <http://hamlin.22 <http://hamlin.22/>@osu.edu/ <http://osu.edu/>>
>            hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com <mailto:hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com>
>         <mailto:hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com
>         <mailto:hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com>>
> 
> 
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> 
>     -- 
>     Mario A. Di Cesare
>     Distinguished Professor (emeritus), SUNY
>     Founder & Director, Medieval & Renaissance Texts
>         & Studies (MRTS) & Pegasus Paperbooks (1978-1996)
>     Director, Pegasus Press (1996-1998; 2002-2004)
>     Member, College for Seniors, University of North Carolina
>         Center for Creative Retirement at UNC Asheville
> 
>     101 Booter Road
>     Fairview, NC 28730-8727
>       Phone: 828-628-3883
> 
> 
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> 
> 
> 
> -- 
> Hannibal Hamlin
> Associate Professor of English
> The Ohio State University
> Burkhardt Fellow,
> The Folger Shakespeare Library
> 201 East Capitol Street SE
> Washington, DC 20003
> hamlin.22 at osu.edu/ <http://hamlin.22@osu.edu/>
> hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com <mailto:hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com>
> 
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-- 
Mario A. Di Cesare
Distinguished Professor (emeritus), SUNY
Founder & Director, Medieval & Renaissance Texts
      & Studies (MRTS) & Pegasus Paperbooks (1978-1996)
Director, Pegasus Press (1996-1998; 2002-2004)
Member, College for Seniors, University of North Carolina
      Center for Creative Retirement at UNC Asheville

101 Booter Road
Fairview, NC 28730-8727
    Phone: 828-628-3883



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