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Jeremy Till

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  • Comment on: AJ Writing Prize: Alan Berman on what makes good architectural writing

    Jeremy Till's comment 16 June, 2011 2:10 pm

    Oh dear. What a range of inaccurate statements, unsubstantiated generalisations and plain cliches, trotted out in a manner that completely undermines any semblance of an argument.
    1. Academics are not judged by quantity but by quality. The various research assessment exercises make this quite clear. This means that the internalised discourse that Berman accuses academics of is largely redundant, because we are judged against the criteria of originality, significance and rigour. One cannot be original simply through critique of others.
    2. Who exactly is he referring to when he says historians do not do history? If I look around the UK at the leading historians (at random: Peter Blundell Jones, Neil Jackson, Adrian Forty, Miles Glendinning, Murray Fraser) they are not doing internalised historiography but writing about stuff. And in all cases doing it lucidly.
    3. I agree with the previous comment that critical writing from people outside of the academy is going though a very strong phase in the UK, and is far from impenetrable. Again, at random: Keiran Long, Rowan Moore, Hugh Pearman, Charles Holland, Will Wiles - all these and many more are highly intelligent and highly accessible, as well as not pandering to either architectural egos or arcane theory.
    4. Finally, I would point Berman towards some of the student writing emerging from the Schools. I may be prejudiced being at the School that has won the RIBA Dissertation Prize five times running, but these pieces of work are quite brilliant, and certainly not pandering to fashion; which suggests that their tutors are not either.
    So if this otherwise worthy prize is being set up in opposition to a perceived malaise, I feel you are setting up a pyrrhic victory.