Academic haiku

by Eszter Hargittai on February 21, 2007

Grad school pal Jim Gibbon launched an academic haiku contest a week ago. I only noticed it today (Wednesday),which happens to be the deadline for submissions. If you still have time, head on over and submit something. If it’s past Wednesday then feel free to add your creative output in the comments here.

The idea is that the haiku should represent some of your work (a paper, a book, a dissertation, etc.). Here are my two submissions:

I am an expert.
I am man, you are woman.
I exaggerate.

From: *Hargittai, E & S. Shafer. 2006. “Differences in Actual and Perceived Online Skills: The Role of Gender.” Social Science Quarterly. 87(2):432-448. June.

RSS, widgets,
Don’t know one from the other.
Average Web users.

From: Hargittai, E. 2007. “Wikis and Widgets: Differences in Young Adults’ Uses of the Internet” Paper to be presented at the 2007 ICA meetings.

[*] I have to add that it’s actually not possible to tell from the findings whether men overestimate or women underestimate their skills, but perhaps that amount of artistic freedom for the haiku is allowed.

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Crooked Timber » » Vote for your favorite academic haiku
02.24.07 at 6:10 pm



dsquared 02.21.07 at 11:31 pm

Agadoo, doo, doo
Push pineapple, shake the tree
Agadoo, doo, doo.


josh 02.22.07 at 1:56 am

What fun.
I don’t think any of my academic work is worth haikuing; but this does provide me with a pretext for dusting off and re-posting my old philosophy haikus (the product of trying to review for a philosophy exam during my freshman year of college).

We can’t find what we
don’t know. Only recollect.
Virtue is(n’t?) knowledge

Virtue is what counts.
Never do harm; keep promises
always obey law

Soul is immortal
Truth is immutable. Forms
seen through equal sticks.

A this is not a
such. A this and a such are
a this-such. This sucks.

(Aristotle’s original: “Rather we may say that no ‘this’ would ever have been coming to be, if this had not been so. The ‘form’ however means the ‘such’ and not the ‘this’ – a definite thing; but the artist makes, or the father generates, a ‘such’ out of a ‘this’; and when it has been generated, it is a ‘this such’.”)

All things have an end
humans pursue happiness
reason is the best.

All is uncertain
nothing can be proved; one
should suspend judgement.

HUME, An Enquiry Conerning Human Understanding:
We can’t know things through
induction. No predictions
causation assumed.

Hume, Treatise
Moral distinctions
derive from a moral sense
which isn’t reason.

Hume on Free Will I
Free will means random
actions. Determinism
means motivation.

Hume on Free Will II:
We don’t have free will.
Thank god! Now I can know what
I’m going to do.

Groundwork I:
Moral worth means free
will; do right out of duty
goodness isn’t fun.

Groundwork II
imperative is based on
reason, provides law.

Groundwork III
C.I. in three forms.
which are too long for Haiku
too tough to explain.

Nietzsche,The Geneology of Morality:
Masters versus slaves;
Good/bad versus good/evil.
Slaves win. This not good.


Kris McDaniel 02.22.07 at 2:46 am

i really like philosophy haikus. These ones are some of my favorites.

Kant claims that space is
transcendentally ideal
empirically real

The B-deduction
seems less idealistic than
the previous one

Descartes divided
the body infinitely
the mind not at all

Arithmetic fell
when Russell showed to Frege
a contradiction

Francis H. Bradley
had trouble with relations
and so lived alone

The worlds of Lewis
though merely possible
contain flesh and blood


Kieran Healy 02.22.07 at 2:47 am

I thought either Clerihews or Double-Dactyls were the accepted vehicle for compact summaries of academic ideas.


Kieran Healy 02.22.07 at 2:48 am

E.g., a Clerihew from Dean Zimmerman about Parfit:

Derek Parfit
wouldn’t wear a scarf. It
made him more bold
to think someone else would catch cold.


Kieran Healy 02.22.07 at 2:56 am

Or a political Double Dactyl from John Hollander (I think):

Higgledy, piggledy,
Franklin D. Roosevelt,
High over Jutland, flew
In from the East;
‘Well,’ quipped a Minister
‘Something is Groton in
Denmark, at least.’


Jim 02.22.07 at 3:35 am

Hey, thanks for helping to get the word out, Eszter! I’ve had so many great entries from CT readers in the last few hours that I’m going to be pretty lax about the deadline….I might not be able to post the final list of entries till Thursday evening, so I hope people will continue to send in their poems!


josh 02.22.07 at 3:45 am

Oh, the F.H. Bradley haiku is very fine indeed (as is the Hollander)


Delicious Pundit 02.22.07 at 3:58 am

Double Dactyls! There’s a whole page of them here.

College of Cardinals
Nervously rising to
Whisper its will:
“Instead of being so
Why don’t we quietly
Swallow the Pill?”

Yale University
gave up misogyny,
opened its door.

fun is in store.


Justin Horton 02.22.07 at 8:49 am

My favourite haiku, not written (or employed) by me:

This haiku is my
Official resignation
So go fuck yourself


aaron_m 02.22.07 at 9:52 am

Want consent to give
just laws legitimacy
Kant say pigs can’t fly


Chris Williams 02.22.07 at 11:39 am


Damiens was split;
Prison now harms the psyche
Modernity’s here.


astrongmaybe 02.22.07 at 4:02 pm

But every academic haiku will have to end with “more complex than that.”


theophylact 02.22.07 at 4:04 pm

Allyl sulfoxides
Racemize through achiral
Allyl sulfenates.


Jim 02.22.07 at 8:03 pm

@13: You’re right, that could’ve been better. I think I’m going to give myself a “revise and resubmit” and switch that line to: “Some are, some are not.”

I’ll get more specific two years from now when I’m done with the dissertation.


Chris Williams 02.23.07 at 9:10 am

Line thee actually should be:

“More research needed”

And line one is of course:

“The funding obtained”

So we only have the seven syllables to play with.


astrongmaybe 02.23.07 at 2:55 pm


the funding obtained

…weighing of the disparate…
more research needed

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