Now that it’s reached the time of year for reflecting, I realise that it’s really been a great year for me, and a great year for my blog.
I’m really happy with how the blog works, bringing in readers and comments from among my colleagues and a wider public. I’m less happy about the pressure I feel to publish regularly here, which feels like another item to add to the endless to do list.
I also find it problematic that academia/academics do not yet have (in my opinion) a satisfactory answer to where blogging fits into our work and research. How citable are blogs? Could they count as outputs? Or impact?
I think perhaps they should in some way, but there can be no better illustration of this than a short list of my favourite posts from other blogs from the past year.
These are very much just the posts that stuck in my memory, many of which come from people I know and interact with in person or online, but I recommend them all for a bit of highbrow entertainment at the end of 2015.
- Matt Houlbrook: ‘In Those Few Enchanted Hours She Lived’ – this could be the manifesto statement for a blog post that is engaging and entertaining, yet also serious, and based on research. This isn’t just comment or polemic (which my blog sometimes becomes!), but a miniature vignette, crafted to the size of a blog post.
- Ta-Nehisi Coates: ‘Hope and the Historian’ If 2015 was the year of Ta-Nehisi Coates for all the wrong reasons, this post shows how important his thinking is to historians specifically. Challenging and difficult.
- Helen Rogers: ‘Reading Between the Lines’ In this fantastically imaginative post, Helen Rogers reflects on how ‘historians are not supposed to dramatise’. Rogers shows just how much we stand to learn by resisting that interdiction.
- Brodie Waddell: ‘What Is to Be Done? Mending Academic History’ In this follow-up to an earlier post attempting to collate some statistics on academic history and job prospects, Brodie Waddell offers sensible and careful reflections on some of the big problems facing the profession.
- Jonathan Healey: ‘Pisspoor Parliaments’ As if reading the future, Jonathan Healey published this hilarious post in advance of the May 2015 election in the UK, which has ushered in a government that would not be out of place on this list. A more light-hearted read than many of the posts on my list. If you’re feeling glum, the whole blog should keep you entertained for a few hours.
- Julia Laite: ‘The Marginal and the Monstrous’ My favourite from a really wonderful set of posts on ‘The Voices of the People’ hosted on the Many-Headed Monster blog. Laite writes about prostitutes and traffickers, and the perils of ‘rescuing’ figures from history.
- Andrew Smith: ‘A History of Violence: Understanding Narratives of Terror’ This thoughtful post, a historian’s response to the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris in January is as provocative as it is unsettling, given the subsequent escalation of violence in Paris and France over the rest of the year.
- Joanne Begatio: ‘How Stuff Helps Make a Man’ Like Matt Holbrook’s post above, this could be considered a manifesto of how to use visual images, and how to write reflexive blogs about research topics.
- Ludivine Broch: ‘Where is French History Going?’ I couldn’t resist putting this piece on my best of list. Based on an event I helped organise, this is a great piece on what the future might hold for historians of France.