ACADEMIC NAVEL GAZING
Invisible Adjunct has an interesting post about how, because of the proliferation of academic journal articles, most scholars are hyper-specializing to the point of scholasticism.
It is rather insane. I think this phenomenon is partly a function of the increase in the number of schools that happened in the 1960s to accomodate
draft dodgers the increased thirst for knowledge of that era and partly due to the fact that even the “teaching schools” now expect their professors to publish. As a result, there are now dozens of journals in fields that used to have a mere handful.
We are at the point where virtually no one in academe can really be considered an expert on much of anything, I think. As I used to tell my students, as each month passed I knew less as a percentage of everything I should know than the month before. There is simply too much coming out–most of which I don’t even know about–to possibly read. Indeed, there are scores of political science-related journals that I have never seen, and some I have never heard of.
Ironically, I actually am better steeped in the political science literature now than I was when employed as an academic. I used to read articles almost exclusively in support of my teaching or specific research projects I was working on. Now, I have virtually unlimited funding to subscribe to journals and can at least peruse all of them to find articles that interest me.