Public Speech

The Dangers of Writing in Public

I’ve already made it clear that I think academics should write publicly and politically. I also think students should write publicly, though for different reasons, ones I’ll gloss briefly and perhaps expand on at some later date:

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Public Writing for Literary Scholars

After my last post on scholarship and public writing, my colleague Greg Laski wondered over on Twitter what such writing should actually look like.

Greg argued that historians produce more public writing for popular audiences than literary scholars, perhaps because their discipline is better suited to that sort of engagement, or possibly because there’s a clear market for the general-interest history book, particularly biography (e.g., everything written by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Ron Chernow’s biography of Hamilton).

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Writing in Public in Our Political Moment

I’ve been reading the responses to my English department colleagues’ forceful statement on Washington and Lee’s insufficient reckoning with its history and what that history means to marginalized groups, and thinking about what it means to write in public as an academic these days. What are our obligations? What are the risks, and who should and shouldn’t take them?

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