Academic Lackey to the Gallows!
The arrest of Dickinson College research librarian Yongyi Song by police in Beijing has earned China the condemnation of the world academic community. The charge against Song—"the purchase and illegal provision of intelligence to foreigners"—came during his visit to China to collect artifacts from the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution. Because Song is in the process of becoming a U.S. citizen, the arrest has taken on international importance, put a cloud on the future of Chinese-American academic exchanges, and called into question Chinese faithfulness to academic freedom. Meanwhile, Dickinson has established an online petition demanding his freedom.
Montréal, C'est Numéro Un!
Researchers at Montreal's McGill University have crowned the city the "university capital of North America" because it has the highest per-capita concentration of college students of any city (4.38 students per 100 residents). Edged out was Boston, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education, with 4.37. Milwaukee ranked sixth, beating out Denver, New York City, and Atlanta, validating the efforts of local college heads to raise the city's profile as an academic bastion. (Click here for more on the story.)
The Seal Press anthology, Adiós, Barbie: Young Women Write About Body Image, has drawn a copyright infringement suit from Mattel Inc., even though the 1998 title included a disclaimer distancing the book from the toy giant. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that Mattel feels the book "misappropriates the famous doll by using her name in the title and also by using her hairbrush, her shoe, and her foot on the book's cover." Mattel is seeking unspecified damages from Seal and is demanding recall of the book.
The Sound, the Fury, and the Money
In December, W.W. Norton announced the winner of its second annual Norton Scholar's Prize. Awarded annually for an outstanding undergraduate essay on a literary topic, the 1999 prize of $2,500 went to Caleb Smith of the University of California, Berkeley, for "The Fantasy of Orality in Absalom, Absalom!" Smith is currently enrolled at Duke University's English graduate studies program.
After signing poet Billy Collins to a six-figure, three-book contract, Random House asked the University of Pittsburgh Press for permission to reprint 61 older poems in a new Collins collection. But Pittsburgh declined the request, arguing that the reprint would diminish the value of Collins' earlier books, which are still moneymakers for the university press. Collins, an NPR favorite, says that if the Random House book curbed sales of his Pittsburgh books, he'd gladly forgo royalties from Pittsburgh to make up the difference. (Click here for Pittsburgh's statement on the flap.)