I always thought it was strange that musicians, athletes, and fiction writers spend so much time thanking their fans. Of course, I can imagine how appreciative these people must be of fans and their desire to thank them for their patronage. But I think most of us in academia don’t think of our work as having “fans” in the same way as people with more populist careers. It seems so alien – a fan…What is that?
We work as hard as anyone to connect our work to a larger audience, but anything resembling audience response is almost always lacking. Authors of academic books are lucky to get a few reviews (in journals with a very small readership); we almost never know if our essays and articles are read by students; we can follow sales of our work on Amazon (I think the highest I’ve ever hit is 5000 with a less academic book, very early in my career). And in all of these things one’s work is read, debated, and discussed with a critical eye. There’s really very little adoration.
It might be crude for me to thank those people who downloaded or linked to the stuff on this site (a record number this year), or who invited me to lecture at their institutions (a lot of awesome ones this past year), or have discussed things on here in seminars or lecture courses (I don’t have figures on this). But I am thankful. I still think it would be strange to call anyone who did any of those things a fan. *We* don’t have those. But I want to give anyone who read, linked or reached out a big and uncritical thanks anyway.