Wednesday, 30 August 2006

The New Republic's Open University [X-posted from the Valve per the x-posting policy mentioned Monday (soon to be codified).] As its illustrious competitors for “Most Prestigious Group Blog” have noted, The New Republic‘s Open University went online today. The roster is nothing short of spectacular: David A. Bell, David Bromwich, Daniel W. Drezner, David Greenberg, Jacob S. Hacker, Michael Kazin, Sanford Levinson, Jacob T. Levy, Darrin M. McMahon, John McWhorter, Elisa New, Steven Pinker, Eric Rauchway, Christine Stansell, Lawrence Summers, Cass R. Sunstein, Abigail Thernstrom, Ted Widmer and Alan Wolfe. I’m not entirely sure what its establishment means for the future of academic blogging. Does it bode well? Does it mean academic bloggers have already “made it”? How will these titans interact with established bloggers? Will they participate in discussions or will they merely initiate them? Over the past three years, I’ve corresponded with four of its contributors; all four struck me as personable, charitable scholars willing to engage their opponents. (A few months back, I heard Pinker was “stubborn, arrogant, uncooperative and chewed with his mouth open.” That description—sans flourish—didn’t jibe with my experience.) What effect will having to deal with trolls, sorrowful or otherwise, have on them? I’m as curious as I can be (without wishing it upon them). Also, everyone should check out Eric Rauchway’s post on Deadwood. In addition to being an exceptionally gifted historian—his Murdering McKinley: The Making of Theodore Roosevelt’s America is one of the finest books on my period (Gilded Age/Progressive Era) I’ve read to date—he has impeccable taste in links.

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