But who are all these journal articles for? Writing, reading, and our unhandsome condition

Áine Mahon*, SEàN HENRY

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
46 Downloads (Pure)


This paper explores the nature of academic research in the Humanities. It questions whether such scholarship has been instrumentalised to a narrowly individualistic, short-termist and action-orientated pursuit – whether, in simpler terms, there is too much writing and not enough reading. In the first part of the paper, the authors argue that such instrumentalisation is evident in the very language we use; we speak of research ‘outputs’, research ‘impacts’ and research ‘targets’, and all of these terms position Humanist scholarship closer to archery than human understanding. In the second part of the paper, Mahon and Henry foreground particularly the relationship between scholarship and silence as well as the importance of close and careful reading. Throughout the paper, the authors draw on the work of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Stanley Cavell in order to highlight a more edifying framework for research in the Humanities – one that might resist the darker impulses of a marketised academy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-35
Number of pages13
JournalCambridge Journal of Education
Issue number1
Early online date12 Jun 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Jun 2021


  • Higher Education
  • philosophy of education
  • the humanities
  • research
  • writing
  • reading


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