Research Ideas

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at
Mon Jul 12 15:09:45 EDT 1999

At 11:12 AM -0700 7/12/99, clayton stirling bartholomew wrote:
>>>Take one of the cases, say the accusative and "decenter"  the case.
>>>Analyze the distribution of the case by semantic functional categories
>>>and set out to demonstrate that there is no "core" or "center" to the
>>>case. Show that the semantic functions of the case do not group around
>>>any central semantic function no matter how abstract you try and define
>Carl wrote:
>> Sounds a bit, Clay, like you've drawn the conclusion before doing the
>> research: "set out to demonstrate that ...; show that ..." I'd prefer to
>> say, "test the hypothesis that ..."
>Carl is correct here. What I am proposing is not an exercise in
>positivism. I am suggesting that Brian set out with the purpose of
>undermining the notion that a CASE has a central or core meaning. The
>intent of this would not be at all "neutral" or "scientific." I have
>been dabbling in Derrida and the idea of "decentring" is what I am
>driving at here. This is not intended to be positivism. It is an attack
>on the idea that a CASE has a stable core of meaning using "what ever
>means necessary" (Malcolm X).
>BTW, dabbling in Derrida does not mean I am buying into Derrida.

"Dabbling in Derrida" sounds like a neat title--for what? You say that
you're not buying into it, but you're proposing as a "research" scheme the
"demonstration" of a proposition, the truth of which is assumed. This does
clarify for me what you once said about antipathy toward academic thinking,
but I'm still disturbed by the thought that this is being recommended as a
"research" project. But perhaps the tongue is tucked firmly in the cheek of
the fingers at the keyboard. Well, it just might work after all. In my
first year at WU, I had a brilliant freshman insist on writing a paper
about similarities between A.E. Housman and Catullus as poets. She wrote a
fine paper, actually, but with quite a different conclusion from that which
she had set out toward; learned a lot about each poet and decided that they
weren't so much alike as she had thought.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at

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