Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Strange Days

I was recently given the task of finding some old dissertations in the U of C's various libraries. Just on the face of it, it seems as though scholarship has changed quite a bit in the last hundred years. Yes, these dissertations were still written about a wide range of obscure topics that some grad student thinks is worth a 200+ page manuscript, but the choice of subject seems to have changed quite a bit. I suppose it's not entirely out of the question, but this dissertation "The Expressions of Emotion in the Pidgeons" struck me as especially bizarre.

What's more bizarre is that, by my count, there were 5 dissertations written in the span of about four years (1908-1911) on the subject of pidgeons (mainly their eggs). One wonders why. Most likely, a very interested faculty member was able to trick these young scholars into devoting a substatial amount of time into study of a bird he found interesting. However, given the pidgeon population on the U of C campus, at least today, it's possible they wanted to study other birds, but were just too lazy.

There's also a strange facination with grammer in the bible. Here's two: "The Verb and the Sentence in the Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah: A Study" and "The Participle in the Book of Acts".

A few that seem just a little too general or just plain odd:
"An Experimental Study of Fatigue"
"Federal Legislation Regarding Aliens"
"Studies in Rythm"
"The Problem of the Angle-Bisectors"
and "The Contribution of Emerson to Literature"
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