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« Proposing | Main | The Songs of the Kings »

September 09, 2004



I agree with you in spirit regarding the limits and possibilities of blogging as serious academic work. I especially agree that at present, one should think of it as a *legitimate* context, but one which is not by itself sufficient.

But I think there are two possible ways to see scholarship-on-the-internet go forward. One is to keep in mind that there are different kinds of literary scholarship. People who study contemporary world (or postcolonial) literature find that a good deal of their work actually consists of tracking down what is happening in the literary scenes in different parts of the world.

It is a different kind of work, at least initially, than historical scholarship. Perhaps we could say it's "gathering" rather than "delving." Of course in order to push the academic conversation forward, another kind of work -- which goes beyond gathering -- is required.

Ultimately, something like the formal context of the academic journal will remain necessary for serious scholarship to survive. But academic journals might come to be published differently as the digital revolution continues. Journals will never be blogs, but perhaps they will be published more like highly-specialized newsletters in the future.

Even now, I often wish that there was some way of being informed when a journal I don't normally look at publishes an essay on a topic that is of interest to me... And often benchmark journals like PMLA will only have a single essay that is of interest to me in a given issue. The rest of the paper is, frankly, wasted on me.

So maybe journals are headed the way of RSS, if not blogs per se.

Ray Davis

Journals should certainly be online, with (refereed, if possible) comments threads attached for peer response. Moreover, there's no need to delay finished articles while the editors wait for (or induce) an issue's (or double or triple issue's) worth of material. And naturally there should be a front page to the online journal that shows recent additions and changes, and an RSS feed.

Whether you call the ensuing instituionally sponsored product a "blog" or not is up to you. Me, I would call it a well-run journal.

Whether you call blogs scholarship depends, as you say, on what you call scholarship. I'd add it also depends on what you call blogs. I sometimes labor over and research pieces for months (part-time, admittedly) before posting anything, which seems to go against some of your assumptions. I'm not a professional scholar, but I would imagine that professional scholars exist who would prefer the blog's free form, particularly the ability to post short observations and findings *as* short observations and findings.

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