U.S. Intellectual History Blog

AHB III versus Tim Lacy

I noticed in my now-daily perusal of Ambrose Hofstadter Bierce III’s blog that our own Tim Lacy has been pulled into the discussion. Tim chides AHB III for “slipping in snarky snippets, and promoting silly dramas,” while at the same time “reducing the profession to a soap opera.”

This seems too harsh to me, and given the stillness of the USIH blog lately, I think I see a good conversation starter. I’ve read AHB III with much more appreciation, not just for confirming that Stansell and Wilentz are still married but for pointing out and making public the social dimension of knowledge at work in any discipline. Why, for example, are some books read more widely than others that may even be better? Sometimes, it is because the authors of the more widely read book live in the Northeast where they can more easily promote their book, do book tours that do not involve a plane, and get a wider established audience with greater ease. They do this by friends who invite them to their universities, host them on their couch, sometimes swap partners, and otherwise live their lives as human beings. The soap opera is the human dimension of knowledge production, not to be taking lightly or considered silly. Agree? Disagree?

2 Thoughts on this Post

  1. Also, I do confess an occasional voyeuristic curiosity about the less-than-savory things associated with what you termed the “human dimension of knowledge production.” By chiding AHBIII, I guess I hoped to apply the brakes to my own potential vices as much as others. – TL

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