Virtue and the Quiet Art of Scholarship offers a fresh perspective on what it is to be a ‘good knower’ in a social and educational environment dominated by the market order. It explores how narrowly conceived epistemic virtues might be broadened out by seeing those who work and study in the university in their full humanity. In an era characterized by deep and enduring social and cultural divisions, it offers a timely, accessible and critical perspective on the perils of retreating behind disciplinary boundaries, reminding readers of the need to remain open to the other in a time of increased social and political polarization.
Drawing on the work of Leonard Cohen, Ali Smith, Italo Calvino and Raymond Carver, the book seeks to move across disciplines and distort the line between the humanities and the social sciences as a way of bringing them closer together. It explores virtue in the context of scholarship and research, particularly how the ‘virtues of unknowing’ challenge traditional notions of the ‘good knower’. The book offers the framework within which to bridge the gap between ‘us’ and ‘them’ in relation to developments in the university sector, addressing the urgent need for a form of language that promotes unity over division.
Virtue and the Quiet Art of Scholarship will be vital reading for academics, researchers and postgraduate students in the fields of philosophy of education, sociology of education, research methods in education and education policy.
"How can the still, small voice of scholarship be heard above the clamour of the corporate university? Are those for whom curiosity means treading delicately over the fabric of the world destined to be crushed by the heavy armour of disciplinary oppression? Anne Pirrie has written a manual for the perplexed scholar who, shut out from the academy, would fain find a way back in. Hers is a counsel not of despair but of hope. We can prevail not by fighting back but by maintaining our scholarly integrity and continuing to do good work well. This book is for everyone who believes in higher education for the common good."
Professor Tim Ingold, University of Aberdeen.
"In her new book, Virtue and the Quiet Art of Scholarship, Pirrie draws upon an eclectic range of source material playfully to suggest that quiet, embodied, virtues of diffidence, modesty and scholarship ought to be reclaimed by those who work and learn in universities. The chapter on the life and writings of Nan Shepherd is particularly strong. I would recommend the book to anyone concerned by the cultures of boastfulness increasingly evident in academia. Pirrie has crafted a light and engaging read."
James MacAllister, Lecturer in Philosophy of Education, The University of Edinburgh
"What is lightness? It is characterised by the flexible, the nimble, the quick: qualities that have become increasingly marginalised in an academic world obsessed by what can be weighed –financial targets, evidence of ‘impact’, performance indicators. This is a wonderfully light book. Anne Pirrie writes with wit and grace, recovering a vision of the university where the virtues of modesty replace self-promotion, good teaching is no longer reduced to customer satisfaction, and the gods of Management flee before lecturers and professors gleefully reclaiming their academic and spiritual independence. It is a book to read and re-read: wine for the thirsty soul."
Professor Richard Smith, Professor in the School of Education, Durham University.
1 Going home
2 Untimely meditations
3 Icarus falling
4 Locked out
5 Travelling light
6 Looking sideways
7 Pulling strings
8 Closing time