What do you think is pure PANTS?

November 19, 2004

Grinding your teeth over all the publicity for that pretentious new book? Apoplectic whenever you see Tony Blair, George Bush or Alan Titchmarsh? Enraged by the gobbledegook in mission statements, online grant application forms and Derrida obituaries? Don't keep it to yourself: vote on who deserves the brickbats and the occasional bouquet in the Poppleton Awards for Notorious Teaching and Scholarship (PANTS).

You will find our poll marking the highlights of the year on The Times Higher website ( www.thes.co.uk/endofyearpoll ).

You can vote for the most annoying person in public life - the initial contenders include David Starkey, Charles Clarke and Richard Dawkins.

There's "the academic most skilled in exploiting the media" where nominees include David Starkey again along with Germaine Greer, Richard Wiseman and Niall Ferguson. Then there's "the cushiest job in HE" category, which might again mean a win for Dr Starkey.

The "worst contribution to British cultural life" includes irritants ranging from Simon Cowell and the UK Independence Party to the London "Gherkin".

Academics are already casting their votes. The Times Higher columnist Bob Brecher, reader in moral philosophy at Brighton University, reckons the most pretentious book of the year is Christopher M. Gemerchak's The Sunday of the Negative: Reading Bataille Reading Hegel , and that Tessa Jowell, the Culture Secretary, has made the worst contribution to British cultural life "for her inanities about the joys of the gambling industry".

Feel free to make your own suggestions in any category, if, for example, your research partner or vice-chancellor has particularly annoyed you this year.

All nominations must be made by December 10 and the awards will be announced in The Times Higher in true festive spirit on Christmas Eve.

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