Scholarship update

Now that my teaching for the 2020-21 academic year is actually done – leaving aside an exam next week – I’ve been able to turn back to writing as a fairly full-time activity. I’m sometimes able to write during the semester, but that hadn’t been so this year – what with teaching on Zoom, wanting to rethink things even if I’ve taught them many times before, and having care issues relating to senior family members.

Finding topics, or at least fresh takes that I am interested in writing up, is also more challenging than it used to be. Let’s face it, I’ve written about quite a lot of things since entering academia in 1987. So many things within the general realm of what I might write about are no longer fresh or new to me. And though I will return to a theme if I have reason to do so, I get bored too readily to make a regular practice of it.

On the other hand, if I can find an angle that excites or at least intrigues me, I feel I can bring more to the table in some ways than I could earlier in my career. There are certainly some advantages to my having a broader frame of reference, along with more knowledge and experience, than I did when I was younger.

That being so, I now have a pretty decent agenda of things to write about that will take me quite a while. The current list, leaving aside casebook updates, my annual Jotwell piece, and the like, stands as follows:

1) I’ve just started a piece with the working title The Economics, Law, and Politics of Seeking Increased Taxation of Multinationals. It discusses why and how understandings and main policy goals seem to have changed a bit recently in the international tax field. I previewed some of the thinking that underlies it here.

2) I’ve agreed to write a book chapter on inequality and redistribution in a forthcoming edited volume concerning new directions for tax policy research more generally. Among the main topics will be the state of the play and where to go next, as I see it, with regard to issues not just of class but also of race.

3) I’ve agreed to co-author (with a good friend whom I have co-authored with previously) a piece discussing Ed Kleinbard’s scholarship for a tribute symposium. The aim here is not just to offer well-deserved praise, but also to place his work in context and discuss its relationship to the complementary roles played by different types of scholarship.

4) With Stanley Surrey’s memoirs finally appearing in print shortly, I am planning to write an article about Surrey’s distinct scholarly role and contributions. This, too, will have an element of looking at the underlying enterprise, and the “scientist vs. moralist” choice (as William F. Buckley, of all people, put it while interrogating Surrey) that one may face.

5) In my literature / inequality / sociology vein, I’ve long wanted to write something about P. G. Wodehouse, whose delightful work is far more interesting than he might have meant it to be with regard to changing early twentieth century notions of class. I had been unable to find an angle that quite worked for me, and “literature and inequality” didn’t seem to be quite the right frame (albeit related to it), but I am hopeful that I may now have found an approach that might yield fruit. Where I’d publish the darned thing is another question – it wouldn’t be either a book or a law review article.

I’m also now engaged in looking to publish my main work of the last year-plus, covering the era of the pandemic (and the first thing I have ever written entirely at home). It’s a completed shortish book manuscript (45,000 words) – I believe quite lively and readable, and with things to say about where we are today as a country – that is currently entitled Bonfires of the American Dream in American Rhetoric, Literature, and Film