Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Historians gone all commercial?

Too many young historians are quitting academia for the fool’s gold of trade publishing. 
I don't think we're in Canada anymore, Toto. The British history professor Sir Keith Thomas has been denouncing young historians who complete a doctoral thesis and then "rather than present it in a conventional academic form, immediately hire an agent, cut out the footnotes, jazz it all up a bit and try to produce a historical bestseller from what would have otherwise been a perfectly good academic work."
In Britain, I guess that pretty much has been the career track of this guy and this guy for sure and probably others. But has this ever been the career of a Canadian historian?  Could it ever be?  Sorry, Sir Keith, I can't help wishing there were some.
Even in Britain, selling out for the money seems pretty implausible.  Fellow professor Tim Stanley thinks the choice is risky, the pay lousy -- and the cause is quite different:
The fact that young historians still choose to walk away from [ academia] is a damning indictment of how unappealing the career has become. 
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