I have been thinking a lot recently about my aversion to writing this blog.
Of course, events in the summer disrupted the flow, introduced some new sense of urgency around particular concerns, then….very little.
It was as if I had lost faith in what I was doing here, of doubting the efficacy of this project.
This is not necessarily a radical change in what I had set out to do initially, but perhaps simply gives me more impetus. It picks up on an effort within my teaching to share with students the processes underlying the pedagogy, of revealing the pedagogic purpose of what I am inviting them to participate in.
This revisiting of the purpose of writing a blog like this is to bring my attention to certain key terms:
What do I mean by ‘public’?
What publics do I have in mind in engaging in this kind of writing? The kind of writing we engage in, the types of event or outlets through which we seek to present our intellectual work all speak to both who we want to enter into conversation with and what kinds of conversation we want to have. Hopefully I can clarify this (to myself) as I continue the process of writing in this public forum. The word public can also suggest a certain breaking down of hierarchies, but how true is that?
Scholarship – an elite practice?
I remember a response from Beatrix Campbell to a right wing politician who was deriding academics and ‘theory’, where Beatrix noted that ‘theory was another name for thinking’ so was the politician against thinking? In the context of the managed academic CV where what we write about is of less importance than the ‘value’ our academic endeavours can bring to the institution (as if it was separate from us) – as the recent Research Excellence Framework exercise demonstrates – attention to academic work as a form of public good is critically important. Higher education scholarship must speak to the major issues that affect people, and do so in a way that is not defined by the interests of institutional game-playing or private profit. This is allied to scholarship as a public activity. Therefore, while we may, individually, have to keep in mind our scholarly outputs for promotional purposes, we have to be mindful of how public knowledge is increasingly being privatised by the dominance of the major publishing companies.
Which brings me to the digital scholarship debate.
And here I simply refer to the responsibility incumbent upon academic workers to make our work more publically available.
In particular I am going to revisit the idea of blogging as a form of continuous scholarship that simultaneously is focused towards the scholar (the development of ideas that may become other kinds of academic output) and outward as public scholarship that deconstructs the process of knowledge work, and contributes to a revisioning of scholarship as a public practice.