Judge AHRC by its deeds 1

April 30, 2009

As an Arts and Humanities Research Council award-holder, I would like to comment on Peter Barry's attack on the supposedly overarching managerialisation, governmentalisation and restrictive short-termism of the research council ("These directions map out a one-way road into service, not open inquiry", 16 April).

At a recent meeting of the AHRC's Beyond Text: Networks and Workshops scheme, award-holders indicated that the AHRC is not averse to taking risks with projects that are openly developmental and are only partly structured and thought out at the time of application.

Furthermore, the Beyond Text fund is designed to provide seed funding for just those "longer-term fusions and crossovers of disciplines" that might not "occur all the time in the humanities" without such support.

As close readers of texts, we should know how to read between the lines. Analysing merely the language of AHRC publicity and information, which is, after all, in part designed to be open to disparate engagements, is perhaps less important than bothering to check out the content of the projects it actually funds.

Sas Mays, Lecturer in aesthetics and critical theory, Department of English and linguistics, University of Westminster.

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