Thursday, September 1, 2016


Sharon Marcus, Heather Love, and Stephen Best, “Building a Better Description,” Representations 135, Summer 2016, pp. 1-21. In particular, p. 2:
We believe that description is a core, if unacknowledged, method in all scholarship and teaching. In order to proceed, interpretations, explanations, and prescriptions must give an account of—describe—what they interpret, explain, or evaluate. Description makes objects and phenomena available for analysis and synthesis, and is rarely as simple as its critics imply. An elusive object that travels by many names, and sometimes by no name at all, description’s dictionary definitions include representation, drawing, report, portrayal, and account. Description can take many forms, including lists, case studies, sequences, taxonomies, typologies, genealogies, and prevalence studies, and it involves many actions, including observing, measuring, comparing, particularizing, generalizing, and classifying, using words, images, and numbers.
Bruno Latour, Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-network Theory, Oxford UP, 2005, p. 136:
No scholar should find humiliating the task of description. This is, on the contrary, the highest and rarest achievement.


  1. It's taken years and years for the field to get to this point, hasn't it?

    1. Depending on how you date things, between half a century and a century or so. And we're really not there yet. We're just dipping our toes in the water, making sure it's not too cold and that there aren't any sharks or crocodiles that are going to come after us with sharp teeth, strong jaws, and an endless hunger.