Welcome homotectonic and thoughts on academic blogging

Posted on | March 21, 2012 | 5 Comments

At the risk of aggravating my loyal spambots still further, I wanted to share the great news that my colleague Kane Race has started a blog, homotectonic. It’s partly to document work that’s emerging from his new ARC Discovery project, ‘Changing Spaces of HIV Prevention: a cultural analysis of transformations in sexual sociability among gay and homosexually active men.’ But it also promises to be a lot of fun.

Those of you who know Kane will already be aware of his local and international influence in the sociology of health. His new work is adopting cultural theory in fascinating ways, moving deftly between popular culture, critical theory, and embodied practice to address pressing issues for gay men. This is a really welcome addition to the list of cultural studies scholars already experimenting with the publics available for their work online. That it accords with the porous, mobile, ambient dimensions of the research object being analysed is terrific too.

This happy development has prompted some thinking on the changing nature of blogging. It comes alongside a fabulous PhD thesis I’ve been reading on feminist bloggers in Australia – which, incidentally, is the first example I’ve seen that’s able to demonstrate the political significance of affect and emotion in feminist blogging communities specifically. I’m looking forward to seeing more of Frances Shaw’s work after the momentous achievement of submission, particularly as a riposte to some of the established modes of representing so-called political blogging in this country!

I’ve also been thinking about the reports for my current ARC Future Fellowship application which, when they mentioned my blog, did so with enthusiasm – recognising that it has served a function for junior scholars over the years. This seems a notable development from the days when young academics were warned not to talk about their blogs in professional settings for fear of the perceptions that might be triggered – of time-wasting, on the one hand; or too much self-promotion, on the other. Oh how we debated these matters! I remember long, anxious discussions of what it all meant for the profession, in places like csaa-forum… though I can’t locate them now. Maybe it was at MACS. The ephemerality of such topical fixations is surely the point.

I wonder, then, whether Mark Zuckerberg is on to something when he says – in the otherwise alarming quote:

people have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people. That social norm is just something that has evolved over time.

Have perceptions towards blogging changed over time to recognise it as a legitimate supplement to traditional academic research and output? Certainly others have been discussing this at length recently. Far from being a threat to scholarly integrity, we may be seeing a new kind of default logic attached to the practice for universities desperate to retain a claim on public attention in the wake of the social web.

I’ve been saying for some time now that social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have normalised and democratised blogging’s ‘broadcast impulse’. Today we are in a much better position to assess whether bloggers were always self-promoting careerists or perhaps searching for something else entirely from writing, scholarship and online community.

Regardless of these wider issues, I hope Kane’s blogging experience is as rewarding and sustaining as mine has been. Enjoy!

Comments

5 Responses to “Welcome homotectonic and thoughts on academic blogging”

  1. Igor
    March 26th, 2012 @ 5:03 am

    Thank you for posting this, and for having this blog! I am an American MA student, starting my PhD in August, and am writing a paper right now about blogging in the academy and whether or not this channel is a good one for dissemination of academic research and theory.

  2. melgregg
    April 2nd, 2012 @ 6:25 pm

    Hi Igor, thanks for your comment! I realised today that there are other posts here that you might be interested in – for instance this one:

    http://homecookedtheory.com/archives/2007/10/11/self-branding/

    …which is the discussion I was failing to remember in the post above.

    One of the things I find most alarming, but perhaps also comforting, about blogging is this capacity to archive previous thinking. And often it makes me realise that I am perpetually coming back to the same questions – without better answers!

    All the best with your writing.

  3. melgregg
    April 2nd, 2012 @ 6:44 pm

    There’s another one here (I’ll stop now!):

    http://homecookedtheory.com/archives/2007/09/24/archiving-blogging-and-research/

    I can’t believe this blog has been running for 8 years. It has just dawned on me!

  4. Kane
    April 2nd, 2012 @ 11:36 pm

    Thanks Mel for the nice mention and interesting discussion. I have to say, I would never have considered blogging if certain colleagues didn’t do such an inspiring job of it.

    There’s something about the more conversational form of address that attracts me to blogging. But with less genre restrictions than, say, writing for the community press – something I used to do a fair bit of. You can actually get poetic or conceptual on a blog with no editor trying to bring you back into line with what their conception of ‘the public’ wants or likes. There’s something really satisfying about that to me: I’ve always found the charge that certain words or ideas are ‘too complex’ or ‘too academic’, made by one-time gate-keepers of ‘the public’, so often patronise and/or underestimate people’s willingness to try unfamiliar ideas, words, arguments out.

    To me, the public of blogging is much more Latourian than Habermasian: people tuning into ‘matters of concern’ rather than the rigid and routinised public presumed of broadcast news. This gives the writer a certain sense of capaciousness : you don’t have to try and please some imagined norm or number, as you might in an opinion piece in the news – you can imagine the reader you want, and maybe someone, somewhere will tap in.

    But this is also something that is useful when your matter of concern is sex or intimacy. You know people talk about certain things in certain places. And you know there is a gulf between public discourse and what people are prepared to explore or acknowledge in everyday life. So what can this genre be made to do, as an experiment that mixes and muddles between ‘public’ and ‘private’; ‘high’ and ‘low’; ‘theory’ and ‘common sense’; ‘stranger’ and ‘intimate’; ‘home’ and ‘outside’ …

    To me this is also

  5. ana australiana
    April 11th, 2012 @ 5:43 pm

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