You know what I (& TM, who actually brought the subject up) would really like to read? A cultural history of nerds.
Seriously. Are they in fact projections of American anti-intellectualism? Did they appear as a consequence of wider access to education (and, thus, with the fear of intellectual domination)? Where did they come from? Somebody write this book, quick!
(Unless, of course, it already exists. I haven't actually checked to see whether such a thing's been written. Perhaps I'll do that now.... A cursory search of Amazon says No, as does the first page of results from a WorldCat search. People! This is uncharted academic territory! --And if I'm wrong, and you know it, please tell me so that I can go read about this fascinating topic.)