It is only a matter of time before there is a segment on me on VH1's "Best Week Ever." Soon, Joan and Melissa Rivers will be asking my wife about the dress she is wearing on the red carpet (I, of course, will be wearing a tweed tuxedo). The paparazzi will soon be camped out on my doorstep. Why?
Because I am an academic celebrity.
How do I know I am a celebrity? I have been interviewed twice this week about subjects that are not in my academic specialty -- and no one has shown any interest in my actual research.
The first time it happened this week was when NPR contacted me for their Weekend Edition story on the Astor Place Riot. Now, I did research on the riots in graduate school, but I cannot be called either a Shakespearean nor a theatre historian. I'm not really sure where they got my name from. Eventually, when the interviewer asked me if I would mind being interviewed on the air, I said I would be willing, but suggested it might be better if they got a theatre historian (they finally ended up interviewing Bruce McConachie on the radio, and he did a better job than I could have). When I added that I would be more than happy to talk to them any time they did a story on the medieval or literature, all I got on the other end was an uncomfortable silence.
The second time it happened, I was interviewed by the Chronicle of Higher Ed for a piece they are doing on Rate My Professors. This time, I know where they got my name ... they were interesting in a blog post I did on the subject.* I knew what I was talking about, more or less, this time, but of course it had nothing to do with my scholarship.
So, I am an academic celebrity. No autographs, please.
[* By the way, the post is a good example of memory failure. In the blog post, I say that there were already two or three ratings of me when I put on my own rating. In the interview, I told her that there were no ratings of me whatsoever, and that I added my own name and "primed the pump" by writing the first rating (and giving myself a chili pepper). Clearly, these two versions cannot be reconciled, and I must have mis-remembered at one point. The trouble is, now that I read both accounts, they BOTH seem accurate to me. All I can say in my own defense is that I'm now as confused as anyone else.]