Leah Platt

Leah Platt is a writing fellow at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

Academic Love

Academic Instincts, by Marjorie Garber. Princeton University Press, 187 pages, $19.95. Why do the French hate the Belgians and vice versa? For the same reason that Yale students emblazon shirts with "Harvard Sucks": We define ourselves by the distance from near relations. Freud calls this the narcissism of minor differences. In Academic Instincts, a collection of three loosely related essays, Marjorie Garber explores this dynamic in the academy, notorious for its vicious turf wars. Adapting another Freudian term, Garber's central essay, "Discipline Envy," describes how academic fields bump up against their intellectual neighbors: English against cultural studies, history against anthropology, the arts against the sciences. An English professor at Harvard who has published on topics as far-ranging as bisexuality, the relationship between dog and master, and our collective love of real estate, Garber may have some envy of her own. Though she is deeply embedded in the academy (she is the...