Very few people can be effective popularizers of academic research. You need to have a particular personality type plus the interest to be able to do it. Who’s there in my field, for instance, who’s managing to do it? Me, Jonathan, and I can’t even think of anybody else. Z is more of a personal growth type of blogger than academic popularizer. 

Most of academics are aware that only a narrow circle of colleagues will even know about their work. And it’s tough because so much effort and study goes into it, yet the audience is minuscule. One would think they’d be glad that somebody is bringing their stuff to the attention of readers who’d never have heard their name otherwise. I’ll literally weep with joy if somebody ridicules or tears apart my academic books on a popular blog read by normal people who are not in my discipline. 

Instead of feeling glad, though, people get huffy because the way I write for regular, non-academic readers is different from the manner in which academic reviews are written. Bugs me as much as the darn medievalists who always moan that I simplify their field too much. 


6 thoughts on “Popularizers”

  1. I don’t know that I am a good popularizer. Does anyone read my blog aside from a few other smart people who already know me.


  2. What about the Historiann blog? There was also the Bérubé blog. I would say Jonathan’s blog is a popularizer in its way. It doesn’t really speak to people way out of field but it is sort of like reading the TLS or NYRB or something, I read about things and authors there that I might not go to journals to find, because it’s just far enough out of my area to be something I’m more up for talking about in popularizing mode.


      1. I have mixed feelings about her although lately have become more friendly with her friend Claire Potter than I was before. But: popularizer, no?


        1. Claire Potter actually told me she was sorry for attacking me and recognized she was wrong. That was big of her, and I’m no longer angry. I still don’t read her, though.

          I don’t know if they are popularizers because since I was attacked, I haven’t read a word by them. And that was back in 2009, I think. I don’t have to tell you why one might choose to remove oneself from a space where one’s integrity is attacked. I’m sure they are nice people but it was doing me damage to be in that space.


          1. Historiann has this brittle cheerfulness and sees herself as above everyone, and it leads me to think she is secretly really unhappy.


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