19 August 2009 at 01:22 Leave a comment


“Christina Hoff Sommers, in her essay “Persistent Myths in Feminist Scholarship” (The Chronicle Review, online edition, June 29), criticized Nancy K.D. Lemon, a lecturer in domestic-violence law at the University of California at Berkeley’s School of Law, for publishing errors in the popular textbook she edits, Domestic Violence Law, and for not taking seriously her continuing criticisms of the book. “One reason that feminist scholarship contains hard-to-kill falsehoods is that reasonable, evidence-backed criticism is regarded as a personal attack,” Sommers charged.”

Nancy K.D. Lemon:

“In regard to the rule of thumb, for example, she asserted that Romulus of Rome, who is credited in my book with being involved with the first antidomestic-violence legislation, could not have done this as he was merely a legendary, fictional character, who along with his brother Remus was suckled by a wolf.

In fact, Plutarch and Livy each state that Romulus was the first king of Rome. He reigned from 753-717 BC, and created both the Roman Legions and the Roman Senate. He is also credited with adding large amounts of territory and people to the dominion of Rome, including the Sabine women. The modern scholar Andrea Carandini has written about the historic reign of Romulus, based in part on the 1988 discovery of the Murus Romuli on the north slope of the Palatine Hill in Rome.”

Christina Hoff Sommers

“Essentially everything in Professor Lemon’s response is wrong.

She confidently informs us that Romulus actually existed and ruled Rome from 753-717 BC. That is preposterous. She cites Livy and Plutarch as sources. These first-century writers did not claim to be offering historically accurate accounts of events that took place some 700 years before their time, but openly professed to be summarizing beliefs, myths, and legends that had come down through the ages. She also cites the contemporary Roman archaeologist Andrea Carandini—a maverick figure who discovered what he claims might have been a wall of a palace that could have belonged to Romulus. As the July/August 2007 issue of Archaeology politely notes, his suggestion “represents a sharp break with two millennia of scholarship.”

Lemon’s textbook teaches that King Romulus had a code of laws in which wife beating was “accepted and condoned.” That claim goes beyond anything ever suggested by Livy, Plutarch, or Professor Carandini. Where are her sources for these real-world enactments of a magistrate whom nearly everyone regards as fictitious?”

Ahhhhh, reason. Yummy stuff.

Huff Sommers summing up:

“Lemon has just published the third edition of her celebrated, error-ridden casebook. This time, as her response to my Review piece proudly proclaims, she was well aware of my criticisms and brushed them aside with disdain. Law students will now be treated to another round of Elvis sightings parading as scholarship. As I said in my article, my complaint with feminist research is not that authors make mistakes but that the mistakes are impervious to reasoned criticism. They do not get corrected, and the critic’s motives are impugned. Nancy Lemon’s response to my article illustrates the problem perfectly.”


Entry filed under: writing.

Seemed like a good idea Overheard XXII

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What I’ve been reading:

  • James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson, L.L.D. (London, 14 King William Street, Strand: William P. Nimmo, 1876). 4 years ago
  • Marsilio Ficino, Letters of Marsilio Ficino, v. 3, trans. Language Dept. School of Economic Science, London (New York: Gingko Press, 1985). 4 years ago
  • Italo Calvino, Six Memos for the Next Millennium (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988). 4 years ago
  • Stephanie Kallos, Broken for You (New York: Grove Press, 2004). 5 years ago
  • Marsilio Ficino, Letters of Marsilio Ficino, v. 2, trans. Language Dept. School of Economic Science, London (New York: Gingko Press, 1985) 5 years ago

T. Anderson Painter

I am a misanthrope. No one ever believes me, but this seems to prove my point.



2003-2013 T. Anderson Painter
all rights reserved

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