Welcome to the new website for the Scholar’s Stage!
I started the Scholar’s Stage in 2007. At that point I was a no-name pseudonymous blogger.1 It took me about two years of writing before I produced anything worth reading, and it was not until 2013-4 or so that I was writing up material that was reliably interesting. Even now not everyone agrees that my writing is reliably interesting—I write about many different topics, and it has always been a challenge to please my various sub-audiences simultaneously. Nevertheless, my readership has grown. Now that most essays published at The Stage receive tens of thousands of hits the time has come to move off of the old blogspot domain and to a new site.
I have since gone through and deleted everything from my first year of blogging. That is how embarrassing it was! The earliest posts you will find now date from 2008.
You are looking at the new-and-improved Scholar’s Stage. It has many features the old blogspot lacked. Some of these are available only to my Patreon supporters; others are available to everybody.
Let us start with the second category.
Readers have long pushed for some way to read old posts more efficient than simply clicking through “next page” at the bottom of the page. To that end, I am happy to announce that the new Scholar’s Stage includes a full index of everything I have written since 2013, organized by category. I also have a smaller collection of “greatest hits” and an index of everything I have written for outside publications. I will update these each time I write a new post.
Readers have long requested that I move into the audio realm. I am happy to announce that the new Scholar’s Stage hosts a podcast. All episodes, as well as their shownotes, can be found on this page (it is currently going through the review process on most podcasting apps—before the week is over it should be up on all of them). I plan on releasing a new episode once every two weeks or so. On each episode I invite a guest of some distinction to talk to me about a book, essay, or research paper that has helped shape their current work or worldview. The philosophy behind the podcast is easy to grasp. Of podcasts where guests promote their own material, there is no end. The trouble with this schema: most people’s new books are a bare mediocre. It is far better, far more interesting, to have guests discuss the best things they have read than the best things they have written!
The Scholar’s Stage podcast is free. However, readers who would like to read the transcripts of these podcasts instead of listen to them will be required to log in through Patreon. With the launch of the new website comes a rehaul of my Patreon support tiers and the benefits attached to each.
Membership is divided among three tiers of support, labeled on Patreon as “supporters,” “sponsors,” and “benefactors.” Each is given access to exclusive Scholar’s Stage content. Supporters are given membership access to the Scholars Stage web-forum. Sponsors are given access to the forum as well, but also can read the aforementioned transcripts of all Scholar’s Stage podcast episodes and my monthly “Notes From All Over” round-ups. Benefactors have all of the benefits of the first two tiers, but are also invited to monthly “Ask Me Anything” calls on Zoom.
I will participate actively in the forum. For me, the forum is a place to write up the sort of thing that I used to tweet in long threads before Twitter degraded into a toxic wasteland. Readers on Twitter know I have been slowly disengaging from that site for the last year. It is a circus. I’m not interested in participating in it beyond the promotion of my work here. But I still want to engage with readers below the level of the formal essay. This is what the forum is for. The sort of thing I post there will include ideas that I am still fleshing out and would like feedback on, ‘hot takes’ on recent news items or articles, and questions for my broader readership. Some, though not all, of this material will eventually make it to the Scholar’s Stage frontpage. When it does, you will see how your comments and counter-arguments on the forum have shaped my thinking.
There are other benefits to forum participation: the ability to connect with other Scholar’s Stage readers, access to some especially smart commentators who prefer not to leave their thoughts in public, and finally, early knowledge of podcast episode topics and interviewees. Before I do a new episode I write up a post that explains what reading the next podcast will be discussing and who that episode’s invited guest will be. Forum members are welcome to post questions that I might ask the guest, and are given the chance to read the essay, article, or book that we are discussing beforehand. In a charming way, the forum is something like a giant book club.
If you visit the forum today you can see that my next podcast guest has been announced. Feel free to join that discussion—but remember, the forum can only be accessed through logging in with your Patreon account. New members should read the forum rules before commenting.
The monthly “Ask me Anything” Zoom calls are reserved for the highest tier of Patreon support. These are informal, one-hour discussions that follow the Chatham House Rule (“participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed”). Sometimes I will be joined by selected guests for these discussions; other times I will be the one taking questions. Each discussion will follow a theme (such as “the future of American conservatism,” “On ‘cultures that build,’” or “Marxism and modern China”). Recording is not allowed. These discussions are intended to be thoughtful, fun, and low key. The details of these chats will be distributed via Patreon. The first will be held on the evening of June 24th.
For more information about these membership tiers, please head over to Patreon.
There are a few other changes to this site. Comments are now nested. The search function is much improved over the old blogspot search. There are also pages for readers who might be interested in hiring me for a consulting or teaching project. I do not imagine most readers will make use of those functions, but it is nice to know they are there.
If you follow the Scholar’s Stage through Inoreader, Feedly, or another RSS feed reader, please remember to update your feeds. You can also subscribe to my e-mail list through the pop-up that appears when you scroll 50% down the page.
This new website is only possible because of the support my readers have given me over the last decade. I am grateful for the support, and look forward to another decade of producing thoughtful content for you all.