Meet the New Economy of Letters, Same As the Old Economy of Letters

The Scholarly Kitchen

academic-writingLast fall, in an interesting but weirdly disjointed op ed piece titled “The New Economy of Letters,” Harvard professor and New Yorker staff writer Jill Lepore meditated on the relationship between intellectuals and the public, a relationship that she feels is “more vexed than ever.” She sees multiple reasons for this, including both persistent sexism in the academy and the equally persistent refusal of academics to write prose that is worth reading. She goes on to suggest that the long-term outlook for university presses is less than bright.

Several of her paragraphs are worth quoting in full. Here’s one of them:

One reason journalists write well is that journalists write for money: They write for readers. Historically, under the system of scholarly publishing—academic journals and university presses—scholars write for nothing. They have been able to afford to do this because they are paid salaries by the universities that employ them……

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Acerca de jigalle

bibliotecario flâneur | embedded librarian | in libraries + architecture + travel + history
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