Professor Ato Quayson is the Brittle Paper’s Academic of the Year for his use of social media to bring scholarly ideas about literature to mainstream audiences.
Quayson’s academic achievements are many and storied. He is currently the Jean G. and Morris M. Doyle Professor in Interdisciplinary Studies and Professor of English at Stanford University and the President of the African Studies Association, to name just two of his titles. He has published five monographs and eight edited books, with two more books forthcoming in the near future.
Like most distinguished professors, Quayson has given lectures across the world. Unlike most distinguished professors, however, Quayson is doing something different: using YouTube to share insights into “books, whether African literature or otherwise.” In July 2020, in the middle of the pandemic, Quayson launched “Critic.Reading.Writing”: a YouTube channel to which he uploads videos on subjects as varied as anti-Semitism in The Merchant of Venice, the relationship between time and memory in Beloved, and the spatial arrangements of Things Fall Apart.
His new role as a youtube content creator shatters the norms of Academic culture. Whereas many in academia see social media as an inferior space for public discourse, Quayson understands the power of meeting readers where they are!
See Full List of the 2020 Brittle Paper Person of the Year