misc: Shortest Research Paper in History

All academics should strive for brevity as well as comprehensibility.  The shortest academic paper in history was written by Dennis Upper in 1974. Upper, like many academics, suffered from writers block. Upper decided to apply the scientific method to the issue of writer’s block to see if he could treat it in himself. Unfortunately, that meant combating writer’s block by, well, writing about it. His paper “The unsuccessful self-treatment of a case of ‘writer’s block'” is completely blank, save for the title, journal, references, and comments by a reviewer. The study was published without revision in distinguished Journal of Applied Behavioural Analysis in 1974. It is officially the shortest scientific paper ever published.

The reviewer’s comments were well received: . “I have studied this manuscript very carefully with lemon juice and X-rays and have not detected a single flaw in either design or writing style,” wrote the anonymous reviewer. “I suggest it be published without revision. Clearly it is the most concise manuscript I have ever seen — yet it contains sufficient detail to allow other investigators to replicate Dr. Upper’s failure. In comparison with the other manuscripts I get from you containing all that complicated detail, this one was a pleasure to examine. Surely we can find a place for this paper in the Journal — perhaps on the edge of a blank page.”

Read about more blissfully short papers here: https://curiosity.com/topics/the-shortest-scientific-paper-ever-published-literally-contained-no-words-curiosity/

course: Class and Culture

Course covers economic, social, and political causes and consequence of class in America.  Topics include: class culture, education, recent social protests, including Occupy and Tea Party, and the 2016 presidential election.  Emphasizes ways that social class shapes the background and experiences of current Northwestern students and what their future will hold.

Syllabus 2016

Syllabus 2017

  Quotes From Students

“This course was a lesson in critical thinking and opening your eyes.”

“This course should be a requirement for attending Northwestern, or being a human in America.”


“Beth is my favorite woman ever and her dog is even more incredible.”

“You walk out actually knowing things about the world.”


“It really changed my perception of the world.”

“Engaging, honest, knowledgeable, relatable, clear, concise, communicative, smart, structures class well so we learn most we can, challenges class to engage with material.”


“Prof. Red Bird sometimes had trouble getting technology to work but honestly it was quite funny so I wasn’t complaining.”