In Medias Res

I’ve been meaning to start a blog – a blog with this title, in fact – for several years now, but haven’t done it. Part of my hesitation stems from an awareness that a blog is a public space, part of my public online presence/persona.  That awareness both evokes a healthy (I think) caution, and brings out a bit of lingering perfectionism (an impulse that still rears its head at times, despite being mostly vanquished by fifty-plus years of life, including several decades of teaching a 4/4 writing-intensive load; continuing, however slowly, my own research and writing; and doing my best to keep up with an ever-evolving list of other interests and responsibilities).

I’ve also gotten caught up in weighing many of the usual questions faced by aspiring academic bloggers: whether some degree of anonymity/pseudonymity would be wise given my lack of tenure (and lack of eligibility for same); how to balance that caution with the desire to have a public voice; how much of the rest of my life, identity, and interests to include.

In the end (or at least for the moment), as my “about” page indicates, I’ve decided on including all the identities/perspectives (or at least all the ones that currently come to mind), and trusting to academic freedom for any protection I may need (perhaps an odd decision at what feels like a particularly perilous moment, but there’s also something to be said for living out the values in which one believes, and the peril – either from increased government intolerance of dissent or from the ongoing influence of forces driving the growth of academic precarity — does not, at least at the moment, feel personal).  I will also do my best to exercise some discretion in what I write about and how, balancing that with an impulse that goes back at least as far as the perfectionism – to describe things as I see them, even if that makes others, or me, uncomfortable.

The immediate precipitating cause for my finally starting the blog is a desire to participate in Open Learning 17, a cMOOC sponsored by Virginia’s Faculty Collaboratives Steering Committee (itself a part of a larger American Association of Colleges & Universities initiative).  Behind that, there’s desire to write about the English 302 Open Educational Resources (OER) project in which I’m involved (of which I will write more anon; for the moment, there’s a brief description on the “about” page).  Since I’m late getting started on the blogging portion of Open Ed 17, my blog posts are probably going to lag a week or more behind the reading schedule, or I may skip around a bit in the interests of participating as fully as possible in the conversation.

In the longer term, I expect this will also be a space to write about a variety of topics, including teaching and learning more generally;  using digital humanities techniques in the classroom (physical or virtual);  contingency in academia; and my ongoing research, mostly into abolitionist authors Emily Clemens Pearson and Harriet Jacobs, and my attempts to convey the results of that research via both traditional publication and digital humanities methods.

Beyond that, we’ll see: Biblical exegesis and/or theological reflection?  Political reflection ?(!?).  Pictures of flowers (or flooding) from my community garden plot?  Reflection on just why I find towpaths so alluring (but don’t visit the one a mile from my apartment nearly as often as I intend)? At the moment, all possibilities are open.

4 thoughts on “In Medias Res”

  1. I’m with you here, Cathy…as a fellow fifty-something latecomer to blogging, and somehow #openlearning17 came along at the right time to finally push through my inertia. At this point, though, and without being in a tenure position, I feel free to write just about anything I want. I would love to see some of your exegesis and theological reflection…theology is my disciplinary domain…but even more so, it’s lovely to think that all possibilities are open. Looking forward to reading more.

    1. Glad to know I’m not alone in dipping my toes into the blogging water for the first time (well, almost the first time — I’ve actually done a bit of pseudonymous blogging, but that will stay pseudonymous). And good to meet a fellow NTT participant.

      And bits of exegesis/reflection may be coming sooner than I anticipated (not with the OpenLearning17 label, but with some related themes). As I suspected when setting the parameters of the blog, the various parts of my life aren’t really separable at this point (nor do I want them to be).

  2. Truly wonderful to see you here. Welcome (again). You inspire me to think more deeply and, well, to keep on keeping on.

    Hailing frequencies open!

  3. Welcome, welcome! I don’t think you will regret your decision to blog — sounds like you’ve been thinking about it for quite a while. And I can certainly relate to the ambivalence about blogging! I’ve been at it for a few years now, and still don’t write as much as I’d like, mainly because I get too caught up in having everything “just right.” I like to write, but it’s never come easily for me — I spend a lot of time on the prose even after I have the sense of what I want to convey down. That training as a historian dies hard! At the same time, I do really value my blog and hope I can level up my investment in it more in the next few years.. It gives me a forum to say what I want to say pretty much on my own terms. And our current political situation has heightened my sense that we should exercise that right when we can.

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