In honor of Twitter turning 10, Andy Thomason of The Chronicle of Higher Education yesterday named “15 Indispensable Academic Twitter Accounts,” starting with the undisputed champion:
Despite having been on Twitter for nearly five years now, I’ve managed to follow just over 800 accounts. So I always appreciate it when someone like Thomason connects me with someone I’ve somehow missed, like Robert Kelchen, a Seton Hall professor who (like me) blogs about higher ed but (unlike me) actually understands things like financial aid.
Given the branch of higher ed that particularly interests me, however, Thomason’s exercise got me wondering if those of you on Twitter could help me curate a slightly different list:
What are some indispensable Christian academic Twitter accounts?
Now, let me start by acknowledging that there are no doubt Christians on Thomason’s list of academic Twitter users. Start where he ended: with Nyasha Junior, who holds a PhD in Old Testament from Princeton Theological Seminary and tweets on the intersection of race, gender, and religion, among other things. But that’s incidental to Thomason’s project. I want to crowdsource a list of academics on Twitter who are indispensable in large part because they’re Christians.
So let me continue by stating that I don’t want to get hung up here defining each of the adjectives in “indispensable Christian academic Twitter accounts.” I’m probably least interested in following professors whose faith, while significant to them, is bracketed off entirely from their academic work. But that doesn’t mean that I’m only interested in evangelical Christian college types like myself who dedicate themselves to “the integration of faith and learning.” One of my favorite historians to follow is Kevin Cruse of Princeton University; I’m not sure readers of his widely-discussed study of corporate evangelicalism know his own religious background, but it’s there to see on Twitter, in between lots of funny, cutting commentary on the campaign season.
Likewise, I expect most of your recommendations will be faculty or administrators at colleges, universities, and seminaries, but “academic” could be broad enough to fold in independent scholars, archivists, and librarians. Or an editor like John Wilson, whose Twitter feed is as eclectic and catholic as you’d expect from the brains behind Books & Culture, though also more ornery than that august publication.
My firmest boundary is that I want to limit this list to Christian academics who use Twitter as something more than a promotional platform for their books, speaking engagements, or other social media engagement. That’s mostly meant to eliminate yours truly from consideration: apart from the occasional live-tweeting of an academic conference, World Series game, or Republican debate, it’s rare that I use my own Twitter account except to share a blog post.
I’d like to learn of some more Christian academics who are using Twitter to engage each other and the public, or to curate ideas for their followers. Regular, thoughtful retweeters are as important here as tweeters.
This isn’t meant to be a hugely serious exercise. Indeed, I could probably dispense with any Twitter account that didn’t flash a sense of humor once in a while. But it does remind me of an idea I floated last fall:
In the wake of the kerfuffle in the Christian college world over sexuality, I argued that “Christian higher ed” (or here, more broadly, something like “the Christian academy”) is not synonymous with a consortium like the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities — or, I’ve since contended, any flagship institution. “I’m not sure,” I wrote last September, “that hope for the renewal of Christian higher education lies primarily in any institution that may be tempted to place self-preservation at the heart of its mission.”
Instead, I suggested a historical parallel from one of my own fields:
Technological change has enabled a kind of Christian “republic of letters” for the 21st century, an ongoing exchange about the nature and future of Christian higher education that is mediated by emails, blogs, tweets, Facebook groups, RSS feeds, listservs, and other means. Like the 18th century “republic,” this one is both bound up in the more formal structures of its time and can serve as a kind of alternative to them.
Even if that’s too grand, abstract, or naive a notion, I’d still appreciate getting some suggestions for Christian academics I should add to my Twitter feed. You can share them in the comments here or (natch) on Twitter. Perhaps one of you will also be so kind as to suggest a hashtag for this project…