Previous AE coverage
of these issues:
Commerce, philanthropy, and the culture of
should be more creative in thinking about how we reward people for
what they've done."
Rich Rothenberg, Professor
of Family and Preventive Medicine
I'm going to accept [the Sloan Foundation's] money in good faith,
I have to minimally carry out their agenda."
Bradd Shore, Professor
License income, patents, start-ups, and research expenditures for
a selection of eleven institutions
sees the money?
Emory's recently revised intellectual property ownership policy
Can scholarship sell?
For the crossover book
Crossover titles by Emory authors
on the horizon
The new program in manuscript development
The year 2001 stood out as remarkably
bad for scholarly presses, from large university presses like Yale
and Chicago to smaller ones like New Mexico and North Carolina.
The recent economic distress just adds another chapter to a growing
tale of financial troubles driven by decades of decreased university
subsidies and increased publishing costs. To survive, many presses
are publishing fewer books overall and placing more emphasis on
crossover booksscholarly works aimed at somewhat broader audiences.
Recent crossover books by Emory faculty in fields ranging across
political science, physics, theology, and business have sold twenty
thousand, thirty thousand, even seventy thousand copies and reflect
key aspects of this trend.
The desire to speak to larger audiences motivates many writers of
crossover books, both in the arts and sciences and the professional
schools. A ready audience of educated laypeople exists for some
subjects, like the intrigues of
communism laid bare by political historian Harvey Klehr, the quest
for the historical Jesus critiqued by theologian Luke Johnson, and
the lasting impact of stress on the brain investigated by psychiatrist
Other scholars cant resist the challenge of demystifying the
truly esoteric for the truly curious. As important as physics
is, says physicist Sidney Perkowitz, much of it is remote
from daily experience. Its an intellectual challenge and a
spirit-enhancing thing for me to try to engage people by writing
about physical science.
The urge to make a mark beyond academe also drives some scholars
to write for broader audiences, even when such works will not count
towards tenure and promotion in their disciplines. Though scholarly
articles are the coin of the realm in promotion in the business
school, Jagdish Sheth, Charles Kellstadt Professor of Marketing,
has also published an array of books ranging from traditional scholarly
studies to books for both academics and professionals, to one purely
commercial work, published by Simon & Schuster. Across
disciplines, Sheth says, books make the biggest impact
on other academics, students, and professionals outside the university.
Klehr similarly enjoys seeing his arguments at play in the marketplace
of ideas. He views the studies of American communism that he and
co-author John Haynes have published with Yale University Press
as twin endeavors to the
opinion articles they regularly write for popular journals like
The New Republic and The Weekly Standard.
Ironically, both Klehr and Sheth note that sometimes their work
travels a circuitous route from the academy, into the larger society,
and back again. If you take a seminal piece of thinking to
a wider audience, it gets more widely reviewed and discussed,
says Sheth. Klehrs work, which stirred public controversy,
also changed historians understanding of periods like the
McCarthy era. Influencing people beyond the academy can ultimately
have impact within the discipline, he says.
Rather than a winding path running between the academy and the larger
culture, Candler Professor of Primate Behavior Frans de Waal offers
the image of parallel train tracks for his scholarly and popular
writings about primates. For de Waal, who developed his feel for
a wider audience through years of lecturing to the general public
at zoo events, both tracks are important. Peer review of rigorous
scholarship is a very valuable thing, and you must publish in those
kinds of forums, says de Waal. But that process can
sometimes kill creative thinking, too.
Bremner echoes that frustration with the limits inherent in scientific
articles. The breadth of a book manuscript gave him room to discuss
the politics as well as the science of stress-induced brain damage.
Trauma changes over time, yet its similar across cultures
and often used as a political tool, he says. These are
things you cant convey in the purely scientific literature.
Bremner, who holds an undergraduate degree in English and wrote
a family memoir while a medical student at Duke University, reflects
another quality common to most crossover authors: they fundamentally
identify as writers. The craft of writing has always been
my art, explains Luke Johnson. Becoming a scholar meant
having something to say. For other writers, collaboration
also enlivens and disciplines their prose. Klehr and co-author Haynes
rely on each other to critique vigorously their expression as well
as their arguments. Its like having another editor to
make it better, Klehr says.
Crossing the line?
This kind of scholarship does come with risks. Few would attempt
it before tenure, since the long-standing academic bias against
popular writing could sour their prospects. And everyone fears comparisons
to what Klehr calls Geraldo-style books that cross the line
of good scholarship and embarrass the academy.
Going popular can be read as selling out, says Johnson.
And theres enough truth to that to make it dangerous.
The publicity that sometimes follows popular works also can trigger
the kind of acute professorial discomfort that Candler Professor
of Religion Mark Jordan captured in his Academic Exchange
Tragic Life as a Sound Byte! (October/November 2002).
While talk show hosts may pressure scholars to falsely render complications
as clarity, authors say they do not feel such pressure from publishers
of serious books for wider audiences. Even with commercial
presses like Basic Books, says Klehr, I never had an
editor say, Dumb this down.A.B.B.