“You Wouldn’t Understand”: Inaccessibility within Academia 

Sometimes I think I’m going illiterate when I read critical essays. There words are in front of me – and most of them are in English – but I can’t seem to piece them together. How am I supposed to gleen anything of substance from this when I can’t even understand it?

The inaccessibility of critical academia has been the bane of my existence since studying at University. At school the closest we had come to reading academic papers had been spoon fed attempts to read critics as a class. But at university, I was confronted quickly with philosophers, theorists, and critics that spoke in a different language to me. 

It’s enough to make anyone feel stupid. 

When pages upon pages of writing about a topic you felt confident about blur in front of you, it’s really easy to think that you’re the issue. But having read critical works that aren’t quite written in jargon – Fanon, Woolf, even Zadie Smith – I’ve come to the conclusion that there needs to be a shift in academic discourse soon in order to make ideas legible. 

This would not be asking to compromise the integrity of the ideas being put to paper, but instead to reconsider the precedent for clunky and unnatural sentences that run on for pages at a time. To reanimate the conventional essay in a way that succeeds in bringing ideas to fruition in the imagination of the reader. 

Academia – especially literature based work – can often be seen as completely useless in our modern day climate. Who needs to read about people analysing books? But these texts have actually been so important in not only theorising ideas about society as a whole but showing how important our humanities are in parallel with our world.  

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