Notes on the Academy has now been in operation for a little over a year. We have tried, during this period, to bring you a perspective on academia that is both honest and hopeful.
Why did we start this project? All too often, honest criticism of academia that is offered in good-faith is either blunted to begin with, or ignored entirely. Talking about academia can be very confusing: form is routinely confused for essence, process is almost always mistaken for substance, and a forensic dissection of petty intrigues is what passes for structural criticism. Matters are confused further by groups within academia that actively disorganise and scuttle any meaningful resistance. We wanted to change the way certain conversations are had. Every new crisis reminds us that our work is far from done and, happily, that there is much to learn in the process.
With this in mind, we feel the moment is ripe for an expansion in our activities. Starting soon, Notes on the Academy will have two brand new sections.
Invitations are exactly what they sound like: not reviews of books, but invitations to others to read them. These pieces will give the reader a sense of what they can expect to learn if they choose to read the book. Notably, we will be expanding its scope to include nonfiction that isn’t necessarily about academia.
Why is this important? First, because subjects studied in academia interact with each other in meaningful and complicated ways in the real world, but are treated as independent and unrelated within academia. Second, we spend a lot of time talking about how narrowly focused academia forces our interests to be — often, we end up interested in only a small range of topics surrounding our primary area of research — and one way to correct this is to provide a venue for people to broaden their interests. We hope that our Invitations will act as a counterweight to both these tendencies.
We have already published two such invitations, to Beyond Inclusion and The Caste of Merit. If you have recently read an interesting piece of nonfiction (a book or an essay) and would like to write about it, please get in touch with us.
Notes on the Academy will also begin to republish movement literature, i.e. theory, testimony, and analysis that is produced by contemporary people’s movements. We plan to do this in an “active” manner, meaning we will republish these pieces interspersed with our annotations, which will contain any necessary explanations, definitions, context, links to other articles we have found interesting, or questions we’d like to find answers to.
We have chosen to do this because, as we have argued in earlier articles, academia exists within society, and shouldn’t be walled off to its churnings.
It is our expectation that these new endeavours will make explicit the political dimensions of the project we’re undertaking, and we hope that it will make our use of analogy more effective. Once again, if you have any thoughts on specific pieces to republish, or would like to submit your own annotations, please do not hesitate to write to us!