There are two ways of being an academic. One is to burrow ever deeper into the little field one cultivates, to become a master of it, all the while propping up the fenceposts around that field to ensure that one’s terrain is left undisturbed by poachers, wild boars or raccoons, dissonant ideas, and so on. The other is to keep moving, following nomadic lines of connection from one thing to another, roping them in from time to time, but always getting diverted by the next thing that appears on the horizon. That may be the Next Big Thing (poststructuralism, postcolonialism, complexity theory, cognitive neuroscience, ecocriticism, or what have you), but it could also be a responsiveness to the world, which is always throwing up next (little) things if we pay attention to it rather than getting caught in our models of it.

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