13 Of The Dumbest Academic Papers To Actually Get Published


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Twitter lost one of its leading lights earlier this month when user @Real_PeerReview, who chronicled ridiculous, useless, and unintelligible academic papers, shut down their account in an apparent effort to avoid having their real-life academic career ruined.

While @Real_PeerReview’s tweets have been deleted from Twitter, they fortunately are not gone entirely, and can still be read here.

Here are 13 of the most bizarre papers @Real_PeerReview was able to find before their untimely disappearance. (RELATED: Social Justice Warriors Declare Battle On Colleague For Exposing Their ‘Research’)

1. A poetic mycology of the senses: four poems on mushrooms

John Charles Ryan, a cultural studies professor at the University of Western Australia, is very worried that poems about mushrooms are the forgotten ecopoetry, which is even worse than being the ecopoetry people remember. So he wrote about it, and got published:

As the third “f” in contemporary biodiversity conservation, languishing behind fauna and flora, fungi occupy a comparably liminal and, possibly, marginal position in literary history and ecocritical studies. In particular, fungi straddle a largely unnavigated terrian between the recent “human-animal studies” and its literary counterpart “zoocriticism” and the emergent “critical plant studies” and its budding complement “vegetal ecocriticism”. As a consequence, even amongst ecocritics, fungi have been grouped into the latter category, mirroring a tendency in the history of the biological sciences to aggregate fungi and plants. Yet, as neither plant nor animal – that is, existentially in-between the other two “f”s – fungi lack the powers of photosynthesis synonymous with green plants, and also proliferate through radically different mechanisms. I, therefore, suggest that the ecocritical reading of mycotal poetry should be performed in the context of the unique otherness of these organisms.

2. Taxi Cab Publics and the Production of Brown Space after 9/11

University of North Carolina communications professor Sarah Sharma is very interested in talking at length about brown space, whatever that is. Also, 9/11 is involved somehow,

This paper introduces Brown Space as a conceptual category to understand the particular spatial politics of Brown as an ‘identificatory strategy’ after 9/11. I use the taxi cab and the daily life of the ‘brown’ taxi driver as a vehicle to navigate the new micro-politics of brown in public space. Within the popular imaginary I locate two dominating configurations of the taxi post-9/11 which work together to create Brown Space. The taxi figures prominently in the dark corners of the Right as a roving terrorist cell while it is elevated to an idealized ‘public sphere on wheels’ in the bright sensibility of the liberal imagination. In the first account the driver needs to be eradicated and in the second account the embodied driver is strangely absent. Between this deviant brown and an unacknowledged brown there emerges yet another post-9/11 proclamation of civic life – a renewed public space free of brown.

3. Picturizing the scattered ontologies of Alzheimer’s disease: Towards a materialist feminist approach to visual technoscience studies

Jennifer Lum of the University of California, Berkeley, along with Cecilia Asberg of Sweden are convinced we need an intervention of feminist “technoscience” to properly grasp the way Alzheimer’s is portrayed on television. Or something:

The recent reconfiguration of Alzheimer’s disease is due to expanding ageing populations, an aggressive biopharmaceutical industry becoming a fast-growing material-semiotic realm that is providing powerful images of both gendered and racialized embodiment. Such a visual, and yet highly material, realm is in need of feminist interventions, engaging with the images and ideas that circulate around ageing, medicine, human and non-human embodiment.

4. (Auto)Ethnography and cycling

Jonas Larsen likes cycling. He really, really, really likes cycling. So he wrote a 12-page “study” about riding his bike.

The article argues that autoethnography is particularly apt at illuminating the embodied qualities of movement, and it sits within established ethnographies of ‘excising’ and ‘mobile bodies’. In the second part of the article, I draw upon ongoing autoethnographies of cycling in a familiar place (my hometown, Copenhagen) and by learning to cycle ‘out-of-place’ (in London) and ‘in-a-new–way’ (when commuting long distance on a racer bike). The study challenges static notions of the body by analysing how cyclists’ (and researchers’) affective capacities develop as they practice cycling.

5. No Girls Allowed: Television Boys’ Clubs as Resistance to Feminism

To most people, “The Shield” was a cool show about corrupt anti-hero cops who could at times be remarkably good or astonishingly evil. But to Marquette University Professor Pamela Hill Nettleton, the show is really just training you to be a woman-hating homophobe.

This article analyzes the male-only spaces present in four television series, FX’s The Shield, Nip/Tuck , Rescue Me, and ABC’s Boston Legal, which each include a gendered territory as a recurring feature. I argue that these homosocially segregated environments enforce boundaries against women and shelter intense bromance relationships that foreclose romantic relationships of any kind, acting as physical incarnations of troubling retrograde sexual politics and ideologies. … This article reveals that in these television boys’ clubs, problematic gender ideologies are protected and celebrated, misogyny is naturalized, and patriarchal beliefs and behaviors legitimized.

6. Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors

Not just a paper, but an entire book by University of Kentucky geography Professor Carolyn Finney arguing that black people don’t go outdoors as much because of the legacy of slavery:

In this thought-provoking study, Carolyn Finney looks beyond the discourse of the environmental justice movement to examine how the natural environment has been understood, commodified, and represented by both white and black Americans. Bridging the fields of environmental history, cultural studies, critical race studies, and geography, Finney argues that the legacies of slavery, Jim Crow, and racial violence have shaped cultural understandings of the “great outdoors” and determined who should and can have access to natural spaces.

7. Exposing the white avatar: projections, justifications, and the ever-evolving American racism

Forget the Klan: A team of three researchers of “Critical Race Theory and Critical Whiteness Studies” find that the “hegemonic power of whiteness” is entrenched by the avatars people use while playing Xbox:

In the context of the United States, mainstream entertainment genres continue to recycle dominant racial ideologies typified by the perspectives of white men. … This theoretical interpretative article employs Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Critical Whiteness Studies (CWS) to investigate how these projections of whiteness are historically rooted and have evolved in the post-racial era. Using popular virtual gaming and social media examples, this paper critically deconstructs how the creation of white personae via avatars maintains and justifies the hegemonic power of whiteness.

8. Ironic Performativity: Amy Schumer’s Big (White) Balls

Dustin Goltz of DePaul University watched Comedy Central’s roast of Charlie Sheen, and thought that Amy Schumer’s part of the roast was funny. So he wrote a 20-page paper about it. Racism is somehow involved:

The essay examines Amy Schumer’s breakout performance in the controversial Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen to unpack and theorize the workings of ironic performativity. The essay offers processual language (the doing of racism, the doing of sexism, etc.) correctives for audiencing, naming, and making sense of layered ironic performances to foster more complex audiencing practices and engage the work with greater critical scrutiny and possibility.

9. “Dirty, Authentic…Delicious:” Yelp, Mexican Restaurants, and the Appetites of Philadelphia’s New Middle Class

In this 10-page article from “Gastronomica: The Journal of Critical Food Studies,” Dylan Gottlieb analyzes Philadelphia’s middle class by reading their reviews on Yelp:

This article examines how Philadelphia’s emergent middle class—young, urbane, educated, and overwhelmingly white—digests the gentrifying multiethnic city. Drawing on Yelp reviews of South Philadelphia’s Mexican restaurants, it deconstructs their conflicting ideas about “authenticity.”

10. Entangling a Post-Reflexivity Through Post-Intentional Phenomenology

This article’s abstract is 97 words long and at no point is it remotely clear what it is about:

In this article, we amplify the post in post-intentional phenomenology to demonstrate some of the unique possibilities this methodology might afford qualitative researchers interested in experimenting with entangled connections among seemingly disparate philosophies, theories, and methodologies. Specifically, we extend our amplification to the concept of reflexivity by conceptualizing an entangled post-reflexivity as a generative methodological move in post-intentional phenomenology specifically and in qualitative research more generally. Through three provocations, we experiment with how the concept of reflexivity might become, leading us to theorize an entangled post-reflexivity that aims to incite methodological movements and possibilities for qualitative inquiry.

11. Mapping the hobosexual: A queer materialism

The very first article ever tweeted out by @Real_PearReview is about how having sex with homeless people fights back against capitalism.

The following article introduces the hobosexual as a concept in queer materialism. Mapped at the intersection of not-for-profit hobo sex and labor practices historically, the hobosexual collapses the apparent impasse between the material and the symbolic so prevalent in queer studies. … Generated out of hobo history and queer as anti-capitalist practice, the hobosexual represents resistance to capitalist systems of normalization and enables connections, not necessarily between identities, but between anti-capitalist practices generated out of difference.

12. Sunder the Children: Abraham Lincoln’s Queer Rhetorical Pedagogy

This article doesn’t appear to have an abstract. That’s probably for the best.

13. Sexualities and accounting: A queer theory perspective

Somehow humanity made it to the year 2016 without ever bothering to queer accounting:

There is a paucity of research on sexuality within accounting studies in general, and next to nothing on lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans* (LGBT) sexualities in particular. One major problem associated with this neglect is that the heteronormative bias within the accounting studies goes unchallenged, reproducing a heterosexual/homosexual binary that posits heterosexuality as a normative standard by which other sexualities are judged and found wanting. … Three research trajectories with example research questions are presented to that end: (1) disrupting heteronormativity; (2) queering accounting organisations; (3) queer allies in accounting contexts. In sum, this article underscores the utility of queer theory to accounting and sexuality research and practice, and calls for increased research activity of this type in this area.

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