John Fea, chair of history at Messiah College, was browsing in the book exhibit at the American Historical Association's annual meeting this weekend when he happened upon an acknowledgments section that he had to share. We thank him for the tip because it certainly is different from the acknowledgments we have typically skimmed over.
You can see the acknowledgments in full in the illustration above.
Inside Higher Ed reached out to Brendan Pietsch, the author of the acknowledgments and of the book where they appear, Dispensational Modernism, published in July by Oxford University Press.
Via email, he said that Fea's blog post has turned out to be good publicity for the book. "I'm a bit surprised anyone noticed, and the recent attention to a book that has previously had about nine readers has been a little crazy."
So why did he write the acknowledgments in his book? "I could give lots of reasons for it," Pietsch said. "I thought it was funny. The book was a dissertation project first, and after almost 10 years of working on it I couldn't possibly come up with a full list of all the people who had helped. Also there was also a lovely account in Jonathan Coe's Like a Fiery Elephant of a book in which B. S. Johnson somewhat belligerently invited readers to write their own name in the acknowledgments if they thought they deserved to be, and it made me think about what it might mean to invite readers (of which I expect few, most of whom I already know, this being a typical scholarly monograph) to take credit for their help without describing either my labor or others' as a commodity. Although mostly I suspect it was because my mother raised me badly, so I didn't have the good manners to show proper gratitude in a normal way. Definitely my mother's fault, one way or another."
Has anyone seen better acknowledgments in a scholarly book?