The Problem for Scholars

"Over the course of the last few decades, most Departments of language and literature have come to demand that junior faculty members produce, as a condition for being seriously considered for promotion to tenure, a full-length scholarly book published by a reputable press. A small number of departments expect the publication of two such books. Whether these expectations are reasonable or necessary is a question that we should collectively ponder and debate. The immediate problem, however, is that university presses, which in the past brought out the vast majority of scholarly books, are cutting back on the publication of works in some areas of language and literature. Indeed, we are told that certain presses have eliminated editorial positions in our disciplines. Many factors are involved here, but the core of the problem -- which extends beyond our fields to such disciplines as philosophy, musicology, and anthropology -- is systemic, structural, and at base economic."

--Stephen Greenblatt, A Letter to MLA Members (republished in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Tuesday, July 2, 2002)