A literary hoax is raising uncomfortable questions about the state of academic journals.
Back in 2004, the literary-studies journal Modernism/Modernity printed an article by Jay Murray Siskind of Blacksmith College. The problem is that there is no Jay Murray Siskind, outside Don DeLillo’s classic modernist novel White Noise, and Blacksmith College doesn’t exist at all.
The literary hoax was not revealed until this year, when Mark Sample broke the story on his blog, Sample Reality. According to Sample, this long lag raises the question: “Did any regular readers of the journal ever even read, really read, the review?” Writing for the Chronicle of Higher Education, Peter Monaghan takes the argument a step further, asking, “does anyone read any literary-studies articles?”