Saheli*: Musings and Observations
Tuesday, October 12, 2004
 
He shouldn't be that busy!

A debate on Phillip Roth Novel wouldn't normally catch my eye on a busy morning like today, but this one on Slate made me do a double take: Nicholas Lemann debates Judith Shulevitz. The "Who are these people?" reads: "Nicholas Lemann is dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University and a staff writer for The New Yorker. Judith Shulevitz, former culture editor of Slate and former columnist for the New York Times Book Review, is working on a book about the Sabbath." What it does not mention is that these two are married to each other-you have to actually read Schulevitz's opening letter. It occurs to me that the relatively elderly editors at Slate might think that the cute "Love, Nick" and "Love, Judith" at the end might be enought to winkingly inform people. It also occurs to me that if I was having a debate with some good friends and colleagues of mine, I might put in the love anyway. I wonder if this is a generational difference.

We students always grumbled that Lemann was so busy fundraising and planning the two year program that we didn't see him enough. But if he has to debate literature with his wife by email, he's getting a little carried away. Give it a break, Dean Lemann! Go home and talk to her over dinner like a normal person!

Clarifying Update: So, as Rishi has pointed out, I seem to have implied Slate was trying to hide something, which was not at all my intention. Slate is the pioneer of full disclosure, and as I noted, Shulevitz takes care of it. I was just surprised that Slate didn't make a bigger hook out of . Erudite, brilliant people debate fiction on Slate all the time--but it's not too often you get to read the debates of erudite, brilliant people who are married to each other. I probably would have paused and taken a look for either of these bylines alone, but the two together add up to more precisely because they're married. I just think that's innately and obviously more interesting, and I would have played it up. In the NYT bookreview, of course, a "Love, Nick" would be a glaring way to catch anyone's attention, but online, and in this day and age, it just doesn't seem like an adaquate trumpet.

And yes, my last comment was tongue in cheek. Considering that I mentioned him in my application to Columbia before anyone knew he was going to be there, I can't really complain about any lack of facetime with Dean Lemann. I didn't get a chance to catch his film The Choice tonight, but I'm hoping to later this week. It is still, of course, entirely possible that the man needs to take a break. That applies to a lot of J-Schoolers.
 


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Saheli Datta started this when she was a journalism student at Columbia in New York. Now she lives in the Bay Area. *Old people call me R. New people, call me Saheli. Thanks! My homepage. Specifically, my links. Email me: Saheli [AT] Gmail [dot] Com

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