Tuesday, November 5, 2019
November 5, 2019: 9 Years of AmericanStudier: Personal Benefits
[This week marks this blog’s 9th anniversary! Nearly 2800 posts later, AmericanStudier has become my most extended & enduring life’s work, and so this week I wanted to share a handful of the reasons why I’ve kept it going for so long. Leading up a special weekend list of other scholarly blogs that we should all be reading—add your suggestions (including your own blog of course), please!]
On three of the many ways (along with those I highlighted in yesterday’s post, and those to which the rest of the week’s posts will connect) I’ve benefitted immeasurably from my work on AmericanStudier.
1) Experimentation: As I mentioned yesterday, when I started the blog most if not all of my scholarly writing existed within the traditional peer-reviewed formats. Besides the frustratingly long time-lag between writing and publication, another limitation of those formats (which, to be clear, I still value and continue to work in alongside blogging and other forms) is that they require both the writing and the ideas to be entirely developed (indeed, as close to perfect as we flawed humans can produce) by the time of submission. Whereas in this space, I’ve found the opportunity and freedom to write about things I’ve just begun to consider, to explore topics and texts about which I’ve just begun learning, to share partial and preliminary and provisional ideas, to, in a word, experiment.
2) Books: I genuinely had no idea that this would be the case when I began blogging (nor for at least a year or so thereafter), but it turns out that such experimentation isn’t just a complement to more traditional academic formats—it can also become a starting point for work in those formats. I can’t remember if the final work on my second book, which came out in the summer of 2011, was influenced at all by the blog, although it may well have been. But I know for sure that each of my last three books has started quite overtly with posts and ideas here (among other influences of course, but with this space as a consistent and crucial one). When I talk up the benefits of scholarly blogging, as I did earlier this fall at the annual Teaching at Teaching-Intensive Institutions conference, I make very clear that it’s not only not a distraction from our other scholarly writing and work—it’s also and especially a pipeline to that work!
3) A Consistent Scholarly Identity: The title of my TTII talk was “Maintaining a Scholarly Identity on a 4/4 Load,” and that’s perhaps been the most beneficial blogging benefit of all. During semesters and academic years at a teaching-intensive institution, it’s nearly impossible to do any long-form scholarly writing; that’s what breaks and summers are for. But when we get to those times, it can feel like it takes a long time (far too long, indeed) to get back into a scholarly writing headspace. And a daily scholarly blog (or one on whatever schedule works for you, although I do recommend some sort of a schedule) fights that problem head-on, making our scholarly writing and work part of our life throughout the semesters and years. Even though I no longer write the blog each day (writing and scheduling in bunches), I get to see it, read it, share it each day, and that makes my scholarly writing and identity part of my daily life in an incredibly beneficial way.
Next anniversary reflection tomorrow,
PS. Other scholarly blogs you’d suggest for the weekend list?