I’ve been out of academia for 15 years now, since I graduated from Fordham, and haven’t really read much “academic” work since I started reading Mr. Ferguson’s papers last year. While they were on the whole interesting, I was struck by how many references he made to his references. Often times it seemed that instead of writing about history, he was writing about writing about history. (And, really, I’ve never found reviews of “the literature” to be very enlightening; though they may reveal other avenues of investigation, they have no place in an expository essay.) Mostly this was a distraction, but in some cases it was downright harmful, since he would explain something only by reference to someone else’s work with which I was not familiar.
The authors at the aforementioned site do the same. They use authors’ names as shorthand for that author’s entire body of work, with which one is assumed to be familiar. Well, I’m not.