Can Blogging Derail an Academic Career?
When I started this blog several months ago, I cited my status as an unproven academic as the chief reason for my reticence to blog. Ultimately I decided that “if I don’t blog, I may never be in position to accept an assistant professor position, a career goal that I once believed blogging would potentially inhibit me from achieving.”
My concerns might be valid. The Chronicle for Higher Education poses the question, “can blogging derail your career?” In a series of brief articles, written a couple of yeas ago, various academics who blog weigh in on the question. The challenge of fashioning oneself as a public intellectual has typically seemed daunting for underprivileged academics, laden with excessive teaching loads and the pressure of publishing in peer reviewed forums. Blogging has alleviated that challenge by providing a forum where one can sound off on matters of public concern. This is why I blog.
Yet, as the articles in this series suggest, blogging is an imperfect medium. It exposes you to the scrutiny of any hiring or tenure committee. Worse, it’s an always tempting forum to advance one’s politics or comment on society in (not always) informed or articulate ways. In other words, it’s therapeutic.
I think I agree with many of the writers who weighed in on the academic blogger issue. Blogging can be an invaluable method of moving past the irrelevance of many forms of academic writing and reaching out to a variety of communities in ways that matter. Blogging can build the life of an academic community by creating discussion amongst members of a department. It is a way of judging the quality of a person’s mind, as Ann Athouse suggests.
As I keep preparing for my qualifying exams, I resent the fact that I don’t have the energy to write more posts on this blog. Too much of my writing energies are expended by commenting on the pastoral and its various manifestations in Renaissance English literature. Who knows: maybe I can change the focus of this blog and make it about explicitly the pastoral mode in contemporary culture.