Wednesday, June 4, 2014


I got a bit of good news yesterday. The Tales after Tolkien Society, of which I seem to be a charter member, has a blog now, and I am one of the contributors to it. The blog is new, as is the Society that sponsors it, but there are already other posts on the way, and more are welcome.

Part of what that blog will do is host short-form scholarship on medievalisms that pop up in contemporary popular culture. I do some of that on this blog from time to time, or I have done so; it seems to me that the posts to this webspace I would use to do so would now be better served to go to that blog, leaving this one to carry other commentaries and the occasional bits of material actually worth reading. I have to wonder if any of it will be missed, of course, but I can hope to find broader audiences and more comments left in response to the scholarly work I do online.

The issue of audience is one of some importance to scholars. Part of how we are evaluated is in terms of our impact, which is measured in large part by how frequently we are cited by others. This means that how frequently we are read by others is integral to our being validated by the broad body of professionals in the field. (This is of course imperfect, since a scholar who is frequently cited only to be rebutted is not likely to be regarded well--unless that person is Stanley Fish, against whom much ink has been spilled and many pixels arrayed, including some of mine. And there is something of the ad populum fallacy at work, whatever the prevailing opinion about a given piece may be; that many people make use of it does not mean its quality is sound--something people might say about particular French theorists who should remain nameless since the author is dead and the construction of a stable self to have a name is untenable.) And so I hope to be widely read not only because of my vanity (although certainly in part because of my vanity).

The Society blog may well offer a venue for more reading, and not only of my work, but of others in the Society. Certainly I hope that it will be the case; I am invested in the success of the Tales after Tolkien Society, and that success cannot come about except through continued awareness of and engagement with it. I will doubtlessly mention it in this webspace from time to time, even as I expand my attentions to include its evolving activities. For there is more to come; I am told that other social media platforms will soon feel the Tales after Tolkien presence, and I cannot regard that as a bad thing.

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