Sighs of the times

July 31, 2014

As the author of two books forthcoming in the Warwick Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities series, I can confirm – as stated in the article “Writers’ block: description of an academic struggle” (News, 24 July) – that the suspended University of Warwick professor Thomas Docherty was indeed prevented from writing the prefaces, which has led to months of delay in publishing the books.

Never underestimate the petty-minded vindictiveness that university authorities are capable of, or their contempt for academic freedom.

John Jervis
University of Kent


Insubordination and undermining authority, the accusations levelled against Thomas Docherty (“Sighs matter: academic accused of insubordination”, News, 24 July), are terms you might expect in a rigid, hierarchical system such as the army, not in a university.

I would be concerned if my head of department thought I should be subordinate to him just by virtue of his position. We don’t agree on all issues, but he has my respect because he has earned it by showing dedication in doing a difficult job well. A leader won’t be undermined by a single sarcastic critic unless that critic has the sympathy of others.

Dorothy Bishop


Thomas Docherty is accused of sighing, displaying negative body language, being ironic and challenging the authority of his head of department. In the name of corporate efficiency, I suggest that university managers across the land club together, hire a few football stadiums, and try all of us in one go.

Neil Badmington


I note that a University of Warwick professor has been accused of sighing and making ironic comments, among other issues. No doubt this particular case will be determined on its merits, but I do feel that there is a serious decline in academic disciplinary processes. Whatever happened to gross moral turpitude?

Keith Flett

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