Open University

Why Is This Blog Not Like Other Blogs?


by Jacob T. LevyAm I the only one who was a bit daunted by David's opening post that

To the best of our knowledge, this blog is unlike any other out there. It's dedicated to thinking about not just the news of the day but also the news from the academy: Controversies in campus politics that warrant thoughtful discussion. Scholarship from our various disciplines that we think deserves a broader hearing. Ideas we had in doing our research that seem eerily relevant to something we read in The New York Times today.

To the best of my knowledge, that sounds a lot like most of the best blogs by academics in the humanities, social sciences, and law. It's a good mix; I'm fond of it, and of those blogs! To mention just a few of the group academic blogs, Crooked Timber, The Volokh Conspiracy, Marginal Revolution, and Cliopatra all seem to cover that range pretty thoroughly. By contrast, some blogs are only concerned with academic substance, such as the UChicago Law blog, and some primarily with matters of academic life and culture, omitting academic substance, sometimes in a desire to preserve anonymity; the late Invisible Adjunct was the progenitor and Profgrrrrl is my current favorite. But it seems to me the norm among big academic blogs, and especially group blogs, is pretty much as David described.

Anyway, I hope that's the case, because I don't know how to write for a blog that's unlike any other.

In the genre as I do understand it, sometimes one just notes some especially interesting posts or writings elsewhere.

On Liberty & Power, an obituary and appreciation for the great constitutional historian Leonard Levy (no relation). Original Intent and the Founder's Constitution was the second (after only Bernard Bailyn's Ideological Origins of the American Revolution) scholarly book I ever read; I think it was the summer before my junior year of high school. It vastly multiplied my knowledge of legal, constitutional, and intellectual history; it also started to give me a sense of what scholarship could be like, and how exciting it could be.

I'm by no means always a fan of the New York Review of Books in general or of Tony Judt's contributions to it in particular; but his new review essay on Leszek Kolakowski is a terrific, and unsettling, meditation of Marxism and its appeal to intellectuals.

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