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Keywords:

  • academic culture;
  • argumentation;
  • contact sports;
  • intellectual play;
  • intellectual virtuosity;
  • J. B. Jackson;
  • writing style

ABSTRACT. Adopting the persona of the nonacademic, J. B. Jackson was, nonetheless, a major influence on academic scholarship. Expertly and deftly, he played on his understanding of scholarly convention, pushing the boundaries of “legitimate” generalization and assertion. Careful observation of his style reveals eight strategies for testing, mocking, and challenging habits of mind that can unnecessarily constrict scholarly inquiry. From daring in the drawing of conclusions to the wily use of the pronoun “we,” from a refusal to defer to middle-class values to the baiting of environmentalists, Jackson at once had a good time and called much of academic propriety into question. An examination of his “game plan” gives scholars a chance to examine their own habitual practices.