The Sokal hoax : the sham that shook the academy


The Sokal hoax : the sham that shook the academy

edited by the editors of Lingua franca

University of Nebraska Press, c2000

  • : pbk

大学図書館所蔵 件 / 8



Includes bibliographical references



In May 1996 physicist Alan Sokal published an essay in the fashionable academic journal Social Text. The essay quoted hip theorists like Jacques Lacan, Donna Haraway, and Gilles Deleuze. The prose was thick with the jargon of poststructuralism. And the point the essay tried to make was counterintuitive: gravity, Sokal argued, was a fiction that society had agreed upon, and science needed to be liberated from its ideological blinders. When Sokal revealed in the pages of Lingua Franca that he had written the article as a parody, the story hit the front page of the New York Times. It set off a national debate still raging today: Are scholars in the humanities trapped in a jargon-ridden Wonderland? Are scientists deluded in thinking their work is objective? Are literature professors suffering from science envy? Was Sokal's joke funny? Was the Enlightenment such a bad thing after all? And isn't it a little bit true that the meaning of gravity is contingent upon your cultural perspective? Collected here for the first time are Sokal's original essay on "quantum gravity," his essay revealing the hoax, the newspaper articles that broke the story, and the angry op-eds, letters, and e-mail exchanges sparked by the hoax from intellectuals across the country, including Stanley Fish, George F. Will, Michael Berube, and Katha Pollitt. Also included are extended essays in which a wide range of scholars ponder the long-term lessons of the hoax.


  • I Introduction II Alan D. Sokal "Trangressing the boundaries: Towards a transformative hermeneutics of quantum gravity" (Social Text) III Revelation and reaction Alan D. Sokal "A physicist experiments with cultural studies" (Lingua Franca) Bruce Robbins and Andrew Ross, co-editors of Social Text, "Response" (Lingua Franca) Selected letters in response (Lingua Franca) IV Initial responses Linda Seebach "Scientist takes academia for a ride with parody" (Contra Costa Times) Mitchell Landsberg "Is it gibberish or merely obscure? Scientist hoaxes academic journal" (AP Wire) Janny Scott "Postmodern gravity deconstructed, slyly" (New York Times) John Yemma "Hoakum for high-brows" (Boston Globe) Stanley Fish "Professor Soakal's bad joke" (New York Times) Scott McConnell "When pretension reigns supreme" (New York Times) Ruth Rosen "A physics prof drops a bomb on the faux left" (Los Angeles Times) George F. Will "Smitten with gibberish" (Washington Post) John Omicinski "Hoax article yanks academics' legs" (Gannett News Service) Katha Pollitt "Promolotov cocktail" (The Nation) James Terry "Another dispatch from the culture wars" (Kansas City New Times) "Scholarly article in a fine hoax" (editorial) (Fort Meyers News-Press) V Foreign press coverage Euan Ferguson "Illogical dons swallow hoaxer's quantum leap into gibberish" (London Observer) Olavo de Carvalho "Sokal, parodista de si mesmo" (Folha de S. Paulo) Roberto Campos "A brincadeira de Sokal" (Folha de S. Paulo) Marco d'Eramo "Accademico sfregio a Greenwich square" (Il Manifesto) A.N. Wilson "When clever men think rubbish, sound the alarm bells" (London Evening Standard) Denis Duclos "Sokal n'est pas Socrate" (Le Monde) Bruno Latour "Y a-t-il une science apres le guerre froids" (Le Monde) Alan Sokal "Pourquoi j'ai ecrit ma parodie" (Le Monde) VI Longer essays Ellen Willis "My Sokaled life (or, revenge of the nerds)" (Village Voice) Michael Berube and Alan Sokal "The Sokal hoax" (University of Chicago Free Press) Steven Weinberg "Sokal's hoax" (New York Review of Books) Paul Boghossian "What the Sokal hoax ought to teach us" (Times Literary Supplement) Stanley Aronowitz "Alan Sokal's 'Transgression'" (Dissent) Barbara Epstein "Postmodernism and the Left" (New Politics) Meera Nanda "The science wars in India" (Dissent) Peter Osborne "Friendly fire: The hoaxing of 'Social Text'" (Radical Philosophy) Kurt Gottfried "Was Sokal's hoax justified?" (Physics Today) David Dickson "The 'Sokal Affair' takes transatlantic turn" (Nature) Ken Hirschkop "Cultural studies and its discontents" (Social Text) Bruce Robbins "Just doing your job: Some lessons from the Sokal Affair" (Yale Journal of Criticism) VI Forums NYU Panel: Andrew Ross, Alan Sokal, Ellen Willis, Stanley Aronowitz Lingua France roundtable discussion: John Brenkman, Professor of English, CUNY Graduate Center and co-founder of Social Text
  • Elizabeth Lloyd, Professor of Philosophy, Indiana University
  • David Albert, Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University

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