Sunday, 17 October 2010

Antiquaries and (Academic) Historians

At the risk of labouring a point too much within a short space of time, I just came across a note I made earlier this year which is relevant to some of the comments that I have made on this blog recently.

On the radio, back in June, I heard an eminent British historian draw a contrast between antiquaries and academic historians. The former, he said, were largely without strictures – they did not find themselves straitjacketed – whereas, the latter were confined by the very fact of being academics. Being subject to the pressures and requirements that are increasingly being made of them, academic historians are less free to conduct the work they think interesting and worthwhile than antiquaries.

Kierkegaard's dislike of academia and of professors was one thing. Had he been alive now, his detestation, I'm sure, would also have been directed at those who run academia in the way that it has come to be run and who are putting these pressures on their staff. He might even have had some sympathy for the average academic. Although, perhaps, not too much.

(There is one other comment about academia that I remember hearing on the radio earlier this year. I have a note of it somewhere. If I find it, I shall blog it – but not yet. On this topic, I shall leave a pause for the time being.)