Lisa Jardine

Professor Lisa Jardine is an academic and broadcaster

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Education: The View From Here

When I used to present a late-night arts magazine programme for the BBC my producer would scrutinise my script with an eagle eye. She was not on the whole on the look-out for errors of fact or potential slanders. No, her vigilance was directed at my use of the English language. We both knew that a single inattentive "different to", or worse still "different than", where "different from" was strictly correct, a split infinitive or a dangling preposition, would bring bundles of mail in the days following transmission from any number of listeners whose sensibilities had been profoundly offended by my linguistic misdemeanour. In general I accepted this policing of my grammar with gratitude. I was less sure about her insistence that we be sure to avoid "Americanisms". I was supposed to go to the cinema, not to the movies, and not to praise or blame with terms like "cute" or "dumb". We (the BBC, I suppose), my producer, would explain, are the custodians of the English language; American is a lesser dialect.

Education: The View From Here

University classrooms these days are gender-free zones. At least in literature departments, it appears that neither we nor our students need any longer pay much attention to old-fashioned notions such as affirmative action, making space for women to speak, keeping men from dominating discussions, or giving women special encouragement to help them perform better in tests and examinations.

A week in books

Seamus Heaney is a fine figure of a man, large, rugged and bear- voiced, He also writes great poetry. But The Spirit Level - his first book of poems since he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995 - lacks some of the grit and bite of the best of his earlier writing. Beryl Bainbridge is a woman of a certain age: on the podium at an awards ceremony she looks fragile and vulnerable. Every Man for Himself, her latest novel, is her finest in a distinguished writing career. Last Tuesday night, Heaney's slim volume narrowly beat Bainbridge's novel to win the Whitbread Book of the Year award. Why did Bainbridge lose?

Steamed up in a melting pot

Do clean shirts and cookbooks signal the decline of civilisation? Lisa Jardine thinks not

The View From Here

Colleges will, supposedly, admit any young person with a detectable pulse
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