Being Boring: A Public Historian’s Dilemma

“Be more boring, Callison!”

This may be my favorite piece of criticism that I have ever received from a professor. My writing style, he said, was engaging, entertaining and fluid, with a journalistic flair that he greatly enjoyed. But at my university, the History department requires a more academic tone in postgraduate work. This is completely understandable; after all, I’m playing with the big kids now. But why are “academic” and “entertaining” mutually exclusive?

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