[Milton-L] soliciting of reviews

Jenn Lewin jennlewin at yahoo.com
Tue Dec 16 14:24:20 EST 2008


i see i'm entering late in the game to this--i'm reminded of Auden's stricture about writing reviews: no one can write a bad review without showing off.  Exceptions exist; still it's worth bearing in mind.  --jenn

--- On Thu, 12/11/08, Hannibal Hamlin <hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com> wrote:
From: Hannibal Hamlin <hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] soliciting of reviews
To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Date: Thursday, December 11, 2008, 5:09 PM

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> 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>
   *To:* John Milton Discussion List <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>> 

   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/>

   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/
hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com

_______________________________________________
Milton-L mailing list
Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu
Manage your list membership and access list archives at
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