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Lingua Franca Bites the Dust?

Sorry, folks, this has nothing to do with licensing at all, but it will be
of interest to many who were avid readers of the academic/humanities
magazine, Lingua Franca.  We want to pay tribute to it here and we will
miss it a great deal.  Maybe it will rise again; meanwhile, RIP.

We also wish the best of continuing futures for Mr. Kittay's excellent web
resource, Arts & Letters Daily ; and for his superb academic publication,
University Business.

Ann Okerson

---------- Forwarded message ----------
This article from NYTimes.com

Chronicle of Academic Life Halts Publication

October 18, 2001


Lingua Franca, a magazine about academic life that became a must-read for
intellectuals far from universities as well, suspended publication
yesterday after its financial backer withdrew his support.

While Lingua Franca never turned a profit and its circulation hovered
around 15,000, news of its apparent demise elicited exclamations of dismay
in the world of letters.

David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, said: "That is terrible. I really
enjoyed it - I always found something fascinating to read in that
magazine, and not infrequently something that I wish we had had for The
New Yorker."

Lingua Franca was founded in 1990 by Jeffrey Kittay, a former professor of
French literature at Yale, who saw a niche for vivid reporting about the
academic world and especially about its many personal feuds and
intellectual controversies.

"There is a lot of red-blooded activity in a field that is mostly covered
as a pretty desiccated operation," he said yesterday. "I was an academic
who was very, very hungry for information about what made my profession so
alive, where people became passionate about abstract ideas."

Lingua Franca, based in New York and published nine times a year, became
known for articles that strove to be both gossipy and weighty, trying to
explain complicated ideas in general terms while telling tales about the
emotional and human aspects of academic life. Alexander Star, its editor
since 1995, said he was first drawn to the magazine by an article about a
feminist academic accused of sexually harassing a student. The article
juxtaposed the accusation with the professor's discussion in her seminars
of the erotic aspects of pedagogy.

Mr. Star said Lingua Franca also tried to write about academia's
relationship with the public during the "culture wars" of the 1990's, when
many critics dismissed university professors as hopelessly out of touch
with mainstream culture and academics in turn often looked down at the
public as anti-intellectual.

In 1996, Lingua Franca made headlines for an article describing a hoax
played by Alan Sokal, a New York University physicist. To satirize
academic jargon, he persuaded a postmodern humanities journal to publish
an essay of pseudoscientific mumbo jumbo.

Lingua Franca won a National Magazine Award for general excellence for
magazines with low circulations in 1993. It was nominated again in 1994,
1996, 1998, and 1999.

Mr. Kittay's company, Academic Partners, added a second publication,
University Business, about college administration, and a stake in Arts &
Letters Daily, a Web site that provides links to articles about
intellectual life from many publications.

But Mr. Kittay depended on a single financial backer to subsidize the
company's continuing losses. Mr. Kittay declined to name his backer but
said that yesterday, that backer, after reviewing the magazine's finances
and his own, decided to stop supporting Lingua Franca. Mr. Kittay said the
advertising slowdown was not the problem, and he planned to seek new
financial support.

University Business will continue to appear in some form, he said, and
Arts & Letters Daily will continue to appear online.



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