Academic writing tends to be limiting. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy reading a well-crafted academic work, but when facing a new one I always experience that sinking feeling that this will be difficult work. That doesn’t stop me from getting a little thrill when something academic I’ve written appears. Pickwick, an imprint of Wipf & Stock, recently released the cover of Some Wine and Honey for Simon, the Festschrift for Simon Parker to which I’ve contributed. As I’ve written elsewhere, this was an orphaned article that required some polishing up to be able to submit. Thinking back on it, I reflect on how much has changed since then. How I’ve left the land of Festschriften. How my own research has changed.
Research, traditionally wrought, requires an academic library and lots of time. You need to be able to spend your hours requesting books and articles that you can’t afford—really publishers? $40 to purchase twenty pages that I won’t even enjoy reading? Access to JSTOR will cost you if you don’t have a university post. Now I trawl Academia.edu hoping to catch what I need in my net. Sometimes it works. Other times you bring up a coelacanth. That’s the way of research outside the academy. Also, I find myself reading books that appeal to me rather than strictly books on topic. Many of them aren’t academic, but they are informative. Part of research, it seems to me, is learning to access sources you wouldn’t normally find. There’s the element of discovery.
Monsters appealed to me as a research area since there hadn’t been much written on them academically and I’d read most of what had. The field is starting to take off now, which means high-priced monographs and inaccessible research. Working in publishing I think I understand the mindset—employees are expensive, especially in the United States. They require salaries so they can live, and medical coverage so they can continue to live. And most books sell so few copies that they really aren’t profitable. But I like to think people would read about monsters, if they were priced down around the level of the demographic that appreciates them. So one of my academic articles is about to be released to the world along with some wine and honey. I’m still trying to sort out how to contribute from the margins. And I hope Simon, who was always kind to me, appreciates the effort to honor a scholar and a gentleman.
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