ACADEMIA’S DIRTY LITTLE SECRET Why Academics Are Writing Junk That Nobody Reads
Some of the titles in the most recent issues of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion—which proclaims itself as “the top academic journal in the field of religious studies”—serve as evidence:
- “Dona Benta’s Rosary: Managing Ambiguity in a Brazilian Women’s Prayer Group”
- “Death and Demonization of a Bodhisattva: Guanyin’s Reformulation within Chinese Religion”
- “Brides and Blemishes: Queering Women’s Disability in Rabbinic Marriage Law”
Thus, increased specialization has led to increased alienation between not only professors and the general public, but also between the professors themselves.
All of this is very unfortunate. Ideally, the great academic minds of a society should be put to work for the sake of building up that society and addressing its problems. Instead, most Western academics today are using their intellectual capital to answer questions that nobody’s asking on pages that nobody’s reading.