Meanings: “Academic”

April 4, 2012

“The poetics of post-capitalist hegemony is, and yet is not, the ideology of the public sphere.” I wrote that sentence myself!  Well, almost.

I used “Write yourself an academic sentence,” a website from the University of Chicago Writing Program.  You choose some high-powered, in vogue academic terms, and the website writes you a sentence, one that even sounds like it makes sense — or at least sense in what passes for academic prose. You can try it yourself.

Here’s what etymology.com has to say about “academic:”

academic Look up academic at Dictionary.com
1580s, “relating to an academy,” also “collegiate, scholarly,” from L. academicus “of the Academy,” from academia (see academy). Meaning “theoretical, not practical, not leading to a decision” (such as university debates or classroom legal exercises) is from 1886. Academic freedom is attested from 1901.

And here’s what it says about “the academy:”

academy Look up academy at Dictionary.com
late 15c., “the classical Academy,” from Fr. Académie, from L. Academia, from Gk. Akademeia “grove of Akademos,” a legendary Athenian of the Trojan War tales (his name apparently means “of a silent district”), whose estate, six stadia from Athens, was the enclosure where Plato taught his school.

The A[cademy], the Garden, the Lyceum, the Porch, the Tub, are names used for the five chief schools of Greek philosophy, their founders, adherents, & doctrines: the A., Plato, the Platonists & Platonism; the Garden, Epicurus, the Epicureans, & Epicureanism; the Lyceum, Aristotle, the Aristotelians, & Aristotelianism; the Porch, Zeno, the Stoics, & Stoicism; the Tub, Antisthenes, the Cynics, & Cynicism. [Fowler]

Sense broadened 16c. into “any school or training place.” Academy awards (1941) so called for their distributor, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

When I read much academic prose, I think I’ll try to remember the bit about “a silent district.”

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About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
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