Many years ago when I started my Arts Degree at Monash and was doing history, I found it all very interesting. But there was one recurring comment on my essays when they were assessed: "Not enough footnotes". Each time I wrote an essay, I tried to add in more footnotes. Eventually, after receiving the "Not enough footnotes" comment (or some variant) one time too many, I decided to go wild, and to make fun of the very concept of footnotes. So my next essay was riddled with them. One notable sentence managed to get three citations assigned to it.

I was a little disappointed that my excess wasn't noticed and understood for the sophisticated irony that I mistakenly thought it showed. Instead, it came back with the comment that the footnoting was good. So I resigned myself to the fact that every essay from then on would simply have to have anything and everything attributed. I contemplated putting in footnotes on the linguistic derivation of each word I was using, but that would have been too silly.

Anyway: although I  was 'footnote resistant' as a youngster, something must have rubbed off on me.

Recently I read a book without footnotes: and I very much missed them. Too many statements appeared where I couldn't work out whether what I was reading was the author's opinion, something she'd picked up from her oral sources, or something that had been published in documents back at the original time.

The fact that I care is probably just another sign that I'm getting cranky in my 'old' age.

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Anthony Holmes January 2nd, 2007 01:23:13 AM

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