Thursday, February 23, 2006

Safe Scholarship and Serious Blogging

Jeff Rice responds to a lot of the criticism of his IHE article on serious blogging. I don't think he's responding to my own piece (actually, I doubt he's even read it), but he still addresses some of the issues I raised. He makes some interesting comments (well, actually rhetorical questions) about whether or not academic writing is supposed to be safe.

I think he hits on an important issue there. He thinks the difference is access; I think the difference is the very seriousness he raises. Too many scholars are profoundly unserious about their scholarship, but mask their unserious nature in a solemn expression and rhetoric of earnestness. For example, I know of one scholar who used to brag to graduate students that he woke up every morning, looked at his CV, and asked himself where it could be beefed up. I like having a career, but that kind of careerism reeks of intellectual and scholarly unseriousness.

Then again, in a tenure race in a publish-or-perish atmosphere, is it any surprise that some people become cynical about their scholarship, and refuse to publish anything unsafe, leaving the risky stuff for pseudonymous blogs? Write something unsafe, and it probably won't get published. If it gets published, it'll probably be ignored. If it gets noticed, it'll probably get slammed. Why not just apply the latest critical theory and pump out safe, tenurable plug-and-chug scholarship, e.g. "What would Zizek say about this thoroughly canonical text...?"


  1. I had seen your remarks, but no, was not responding to you.

  2. Dr. Nokes: I saw this article and thought immediately of Rice's article and your response to it--

    The Daily National Student