Academia: The Lure of the Limelight

Given the state of academic life today, we should not be surprised that scholars seek stardom, argues Tim Stanley.

 Plato in his academy, drawing after a painting by Swedish painter Carl Johan WahlbomToo many young historians are quitting academia for the fool’s gold of trade publishing. That’s the view of Sir Keith Thomas, chairman of the Wolfson History Prize, who denounced the brain drain in May. He identified a worrying ‘tendency for young historians who have completed their doctoral thesis to, rather than present it in a conventional academic form, immediately hire an agent, cut out the footnotes, jazz it all up a bit and try to produce a historical bestseller from what would have otherwise been a perfectly good academic work’.

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