Everything We Think Can in Principle Be Thought By Someone Else: A Plea for Open, Collective Scholarship


This is just to say that if we think keeping our scholarly work primarily out of public sight [except for the occasional conference presentation] until its penultimate moment of publication in a conventional venue such as the academic journal or book, at which point quite a few years of our lives [mainly spent in the solitude of studies and libraries or other semi-private spaces where we could manage a foothold] may have been devoted to that work whose “arrival” in print may even occur long after we have moved on to other projects, then we risk working too much in the dark, apart from the world which has bequeathed to us our objects and methods of study and reflection [I might also add here that this traditional way of doing things also keeps our work sequestered within the academy, and does not allow us to reach a more broadly public audience, which, in my mind, is a real perversion of the term “humanities”]. We also do our work largely apart from the very peers whom we hope will welcome and even love it when it is “finished.” […]

I am also trying to say: we need to learn better how to live in the scholarly NOW, and blogs have certainly increased the opportunities for doing that. It takes some extra work, of course, to spend part of each day reading and commenting on blogs and maybe also contributing substantive posts to a weblog now and again, but the payoff is that the small burst of conversation that might occur in the last thirty minutes of a conference session has now been extended beyond the conference itself, maybe even for months on end. With traditional academic publishing, one might wait years, from the conception of a work to its completion and then publication in a traditional print venue, before one “hears” or “sees” any kind of reaction to one’s work, and there might be no reaction at all, at least, not one that is palpably articulated, whether in a review or an email.

Autor: Klaus Graf

Historiker und Archivar, Blogger

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