A few days ago Michael Lurie sent me a link to an article demonstrating how rarely published scholarship gets read. Here is the link:
At first I dismissed the article as old hat. My hunch is that if scholars write about issues that genuinely concerned then, people will read what they have to say. But, if I could figure out how to get scholars to write about what they really care about, I would have done it years ago. All I can do now is try to figure out how to write that way myself. If I succeed, the headline will be OLD SCHOLAR LEARNS NEW TRICK!
But the issue is more complex than that. This morning I picked up the New York Times and read David Brooks’ op ed piece on Martin Buber: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/01/opinion/read-buber-not-the-polls.html?_r=0 . His essay made md wonder if the I-Thou relationship can apply to the past as well as to personal relationships in our lives. I recognize that scholarship often has to be an I-It relationship to the past? But must it always be that? Are there forms of engagement that, whether we recognize it or not, involve an I-Thou relationship to texts, works of art or cultural phenomena? We see that now and then, I think, in works where a scholars’ love of his or her subject matter shines through. We crave, I-Thou relationships, wherever we can find them, and, I suspect, will read whatever work emerges from such a tie.