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Fourteen years ago, having just finished my dissertation at a German
university and returned to the States, I was encouraged by a number of
colleagues to translate it and publish in America. I sent out the published
German version to a number of presses, and received several rejections,
because the readers could not find a niche for such an inter-disciplinary
book. Accepted. However, one reviewer commented with the certainly only a
self-absorbed academic can muster that the book contained no new
information whatsoever. Meanwhwhile, the book became a bestseller in
Germany in the academic press market, with every reviewer noting that this
was a ground-breaking work in the field of German exile studies. I decided
that if people wanted to read my book, they would have to learn German.
 
In the meantime, I have also come to the realization that there are many
colleagues in our field who are happy to eliminate their own competition or
get pissy when a prospective author has failed to quote the reviewer's
work. I don't think this has changed as the field has grown, but it has
seemingly become more intense as film studies has expanded. I, myself, fell
into the latter trap a long time ago in a published book review, and have
regretted it ever since, because I lost the friendship of a colleague.
 
Having moved between academia and the archive world, I have also observed
that academia is a highly political arena, filled with back-stabbing and
decision-making processes that are less than transparent, less than fair.
Nevertheless, academia does have its rewards and I always encourage grad
students to persevere. I do still believe that quality work will win out in
the end, even if a topic seems less than fashionable.
 
 
Jan-Christiopher Horak
Filmmuseum, Munich
 
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Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite
http://www.tcf.ua.edu/screensite