DR TIM FLIGHT
BA (HONS), MA, DPHIL (OXON)
Nota bene: I would like to make clear at the outset that I have the utmost respect for academia. Academic research is the lifeblood of knowledge, and utterly wonderful. As a former lecturer, I fully understand the unjustified pressures under which higher education suffers. I trust that the words which follow do not suggest otherwise, but I felt it best to obviate the risk of the contrary impression being given at the outset.
Prior to 2015, it was always my intention to pursue a conventional lecturing career.
I lectured professionally whilst reading for my DPhil, and passed some of the happiest
years of my life at Oxford. Thus, it seemed only natural to continue to teach and
to research at a university for my entire working life. However, I had a moment of
revelation whilst finishing my thesis that autumn. As I slaved away to ensure that
the correct punctuation and fonts were being used, it occurred to me that very few
people would ever read the finished article. This had never bothered me before, but
as I contemplated the ultimate futility of my efforts over the past four years, I
suddenly felt guilty: the Arts and Humanities Research Council, that funded my DPhil,
is itself funded by the tax payer, few of whom would ever read the finished product,
let alone if I chose to publish the thesis and thus restrict access further. At once
My aim, as a writer, is simple: to inform, to entertain, and to inspire my readers.
When I think of the historians and literary critics who have had the greatest impact
on me, they are almost without exception those who have made their work available
to all. Ethically, I do not believe that knowledge should come at the price of an
academic textbook. Whilst I am not so idealistic as to suggest that all academic
research should be made freely available to all -
As such, I want my work to be accessible, both fiscally and in terms of its subject, to anyone who has an interest in the topic upon which I am writing. As higher education faces further cuts and pressure following Brexit, it is more important than ever to keep the general public interested in the humanities, to ensure the future of the subjects themselves. I would, of course, be guilty of a falsehood if I suggested that my change of career has been entirely selfless: I have always preferred researching and writing to teaching, and these processes are, for me, as vital as the air we breathe.
My idealistic aims will not, however, compromise on the depth and quality of my research:
my work will never take the form of click-