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Publication date: November 2017
129% funded
503 backers

The hidden silly side of higher education

Academia Obscura is proof that the university life isn’t all stuffiness, elbow patches and greying old men. Researcher (and procrastinating PhD student) Glen Wright takes an irreverent look inside the ivory tower, uncovering the amusing and often bizarre world within. Cats and dogs writing scientific papers, real life nutty professors, and some super-specific scientific research that might just change your life. Academia Obscura takes the reader on a unique journey through the groves of academe. Starting with the earliest in-jokes of medieval scribes, the book exposes Easter eggs buried in peer-reviewed papers, guides the reader through the art and science of academic publishing and conferences, and finds that occasionally the mad scientist stereotype is pretty spot on. Academics will never take themselves too seriously again. Neither will anyone else.

Glen Wright is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI) at SciencesPo university, Paris. He is working on improving the protection of the oceans. Glen is also a PhD candidate at the Australian National University. In his spare time, he runs Academia Obscura.

*Please note shipping fees apply*

Academic Animals

A quick look at the Twitter hashtag #AcademicsWithCats is evidence enough that academics, like everyone else on the internet, love cats. In fact, cats have been distracting well-meaning scholars and writers since long before the YouTube era.

Emir Filipović from the University of Sarajevo was trawling through the Dubrovnik State Archives when he stumbled upon an interesting medieval manuscript dating from 1445 Italy, back when books were painstakingly written out by dedicated scribes who spent months on each work. While the piece may have been otherwise unremarkable, Emir noticed that the paper was marked with four distinct blotches of ink, unmistakably the paw prints of a cat. It could have been worse though, as one scribe could attest. Around 1420 he found a page of his hard work ruined by a cat that had decided to urinate on his book. Leaving the rest of the page empty, and adding a picture of a cat (that looks more like a donkey), he wrote the following:

Here is nothing missing, but a cat urinated on this during a certain night. Cursed be the pesty cat that urinated over this book during the night in Deventer and because of it many other cats too. And beware well not to leave open books at night where cats can come.


Academics with Cats, and an update

Monday, 21 November 2016

Dear lovers of academic obscurity,

It has been a while so I wanted to give you a quick update and some news, both bad and good!

The bad news (except for the Trumpocalypse, the loss of reason, and the coming death of expertise) is that the Academia Obscura book won’t be on your bookshelves for some time yet :( The publisher has decided that the holiday season is the best release date for "this…

Final daft submitted!

Monday, 25 July 2016

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Hi everyone,

Just a quick update from the Ivory Tower: the final draft of the Academia Obscura book has been submitted! It is now up to the lovely folks at Unbound to sort out copyeditors and proofreaders and the like. Very excited to share the finished product with you in the not-so-distant future.

One of my favourite parts of writing the book was slipping in amusing footnotes here and there…

An Update! An excerpt!

Monday, 7 March 2016

Rpbp   journals

Dearest academic shed-folk,

First, some good news! I have been writing like a tenured prof on sabbatical and have just handed over the first draft of the book to Unbound. I’ve also seen the first crack at the cover art and it is looking great - it’s got cats and beards and penguins and everything! So excited to share it with you all (soon, hopefully).

The bad news is that publication will likely…

An Update!

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Star wars table

Dearest backers of academic obscurity :)

First off, happy new year! May your coffee be strong, may your Mondays be short, and may your hard drives never fail.

I've been hard at work, condensing all the academic oddness into a lovely little book to make you smile and think "hey, maybe this isn't so boring after all". Things you are going to get in the book:

  • Awful Rate My Professors comments…

The Second Annual Academics with Cats Awards!

Friday, 13 November 2015

Twitter announcement

Academic cat lovers around the world demanded it, and here it is: the Second Academics with Cats Awards! 

How to enter

Simple! Check out the categories below and tweet your finest cat pics (with caption) to #AcademicsWithCats. We’ll collate them and our expert panel will shortlist the best. Public voting will open on 25 November 2015.


This year there are 5 categories…

Illustrations by RedPenBlackPen!

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Car peer review comic 12

Dr. Jason McDermott is a Computational Biologist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. He also happens to draw awesome academic cartoons under the alias RedPenBlackBen. Jason has agreed to grace the Academia Obscura book with his artistic flair and I am absolutely thrilled that he is on board!

In other news, we are currently working on the 2nd Annual #AcademicsWithCats Awards! Last…

The Weird and Wonderful World of Academic Twitter, and an update!

Saturday, 12 September 2015

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Hello lovely Academia Obscura pledgers :)

In case you missed it, Times Higher Education published a piece I wrote about the academic twittersphere a couple of weeks back. The response was great! Following the success of this piece, and the earlier article on the hidden silly side of higher education, THE have agreed to let me write this nonsense once a month!

Some great stuff has come across…

What’s in a Shed?

Tuesday, 1 September 2015


Many of the lovely people pledging for the Academia Obscura book on Unbound have asked me what the shed is all about.

A shed can be many things. A shed “can be anything from a dunny-sized construction to an aircraft hangar covering an acre or two”. It can be virtual, hewn from 0’s and 1’s and existing only fleetingly on your computer screen. In other, very specific contexts, “the garden shed is…

First shed post!

Friday, 17 July 2015

Dear Academia Obscura supporters!

Wow! Just under 3 weeks in and we are at almost 40% funded! This is a great start - thank you so much for supporting the book and for pledging. The big news is that yesterday the lovely folk at Scrivener pledged for the ‘Tenure’ level, contributing a whopping £2,000! I absolutely love the Scrivener software and am thrilled that they will be the frontispiece in…

Neville Morley
Neville Morley asked:

Re the H-Index level: "probably" one of my papers will be cited, or it will be cited and this will "probably" increase my h-index?

Glen Wright
Glen Wright replied:

Hi Neville! The paper, real or fictional, will definitely be cited. Unfortunately, I cannot guarantee that this will have any impact on your H-Index!

Richard Larkin
Richard Larkin asked:

More of a caution. You say that the paper Emir Filipović found at Dubrovnic came from Italy. In the translation, the author says that the cat urinated on the ms. in Deventer: which is in The Netherlands, nowadays. (I don't know what the country was called in the 15th century)
(Pedantry is a survival trait!)

Glen Wright
Glen Wright replied:

Hi Richard,

They are two different events, as described in the text ("...unmistakably the paw prints of a cat. It could have been worse though, as one scribe could attest. Around 1420 he found...").

There is the 1445 paw prints from Italy, and the great feline urination of 1420, which indeed took place in Deventer.

Pedantry really is a survival trait ;)

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