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ERIC Number: EJ847543
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jun-26
Pages: 1
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
In Academe, Once a Star, Always a Star
David, Lennard J.
Chronicle of Higher Education, v55 n40 pB12 Jun 2009
Academic fame is an even stranger goddess than her nonacademic counterpart. In this article, the author contends that academic fame is not easily lost, compared with other kinds of fame. In the world of films or novels, one's fame is fleeting--one is often only as good as his last production. Films that splashed across marquees in the summer are all but forgotten when the snows fall. And as regards books, secondhand bookstores and Web sites are swollen with works that were once the rage and now are obscure. But in academe one needs to have written only one major book or article, and he will be remembered until he dies. Once his idea is accepted and becomes famous, it has amazing durability. In addition, once he has made his mark, it is very hard to erase it. He may write a lot of other books on different topics, but he will be remembered only for his original mark. It is the nature of academic fame that it is faddish and cultish--faddish in the sense that, by definition, it is based on the newness of a scholar's ideas. Readers demand the shock of an innovative insight. But it is only a matter of time before a concept slides into familiarity. The new idea becomes institutionalized. Therefore the successful outcome of any famous concept will be its general acceptance, to the point that it becomes, paradoxically, commonplace. Why is it that most scholars become famous for only one idea, and that this idea is destined to become ordinary? The fame of a specific idea depends, again paradoxically, on its general application across fields. The broader the sowing of the idea, the greater the fame of the originator. In the end, the writer concludes, academic fame may turn out to provide what the ancients were looking for in architecture and statuary: a kind of immortality
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Adult Education; Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A