The Pedant's Progress: An Intimate History of the Arts Scholar
Now that universities are urged to demonstrate their impact on the outside world, Abigail Williams explores the changing image of the humanities academic in the public imagination.
The term "pedant" used simply to mean teacher but came to signify a nit-picking obsessive whose qualities might include, at best, eccentricity and other-worldliness, at worst, social dysfunction, deviant behaviour and irrelevance.
Abigail Williams explores the image and stereotype of the university humanities teacher of the past, and the connection of this image with the current debate, now that academics are increasingly urged to demonstrate their impact on the outside world.
As a young Oxford English scholar who also has a new post as a Knowledge Exchange Fellow, Abigail considers whether there is a fundamental incompatibility between the kinds of attributes that make for a fine scholar - focus, obsession, isolation, detail, rarefication - and the sorts of outward-looking performing roles that are now being encouraged.
Producer: Beaty Rubens.