Back in Black (or my long overdue blog manifesto)

I'm back! I'm back! But not in black!

As noted in a previous post, my semester (4 classes, job applications, student advisor-ing, conferencing, public talks, etc.) gobbled up all of my time (and I didn’t even post all the other things that require keeping a small human, some pets and a beleaguered partner alive). In other words, I have been BUSY! My semester is now wrapping up, and my grading is somewhat under control. Delayed writing beckons and pleads with me to just finish up. All of this means that I will be back to blogging as of NOW.

To tell you the truth, dear reader (there is at least one of you, right?), I miss blogging. Deeply. I crave this form of writing. During the semester, I would long for the time, the opportunity, to blog. This shouldn’t surprise anyone, since I have blogged at Religion in American History since 2007. Heck, I even self-identify as a blogger in a variety of venues.

The reason might surprise, though. I don’t blog because the internet needs my opinion on American religious history, gender, race, class or religion in all kinds of formats. I am definitely not seeking fame or fortune. (Is this even possible anymore?) Blogging has become part and parcel of my scholarly process. As I work through new ideas, new historiographies and new content areas, I blog to force my thinking into concrete form. It functions as a weirdly public venue of note-taking and analysis. Blogging provides a way for me to work through my research and teaching ideas in short and testable format. The concise and precise nature of blogging means that I have to wrangle with making sense of new projects as well as older ones in meaningful and understandable way for both fellow scholars and a general public. This form of writing lets me say something quickly and coherently as well as get timely feedback from others. Blogging removes some of the intellectual isolation of the academy and forces me to put words to my thoughts about our contemporary moment as well as historical ones. It is about my research but also about my particular view, expertise even, that empowers me to comment. I might be a voice speaking into the nothingness of the internet, but people (I am looking at you, Historiann!)  *do* occasionally read what I write.

Moreover, it allows me to experiment more and more with how I write and what style works best for both my subject matter but also for my analysis. This experimentation, then, shifts my scholarly praxis of arranging words on the page as well. Sometimes my blogging makes a topic more clear. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it illuminates interesting questions about methods of study or my evidence. Sometimes it documents that a topic can be exhausted in a post, which is helpful information to have. Blogging refines my scholarly endeavor. Moreover, the use of constant and continual writing makes me into a better writer. Through this format, I feel like my writing has become more my own and less something I was trained to do. It helped me find a much needed voice to finish my book, and now, I want to experiment more and more with my style. This is a confidence that I somehow lacked before. Blogging has made me more adventurous in both my style and content. How else could I write about steamy Mormon calendars, trauma in religious life or zombies? (Oh wait, I am writing about zombies for real.) It makes me bolder, and I am glad to be back to it.

Now, I am off to grading. But, readers, I have come bringing a gift. Rock out to AC/DC, and I’ll be back soon. I promise.


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