Wednesday, May 13, 2009

More on blogging historians

Ryan O'Connor, who runs an terrific blog on Canadian environmental history at Great Green North, has been thinking about the state of CanHist blogging.
One of the major considerations, I believe, is many fear 'tipping-off' their forthcoming research. On my own blog I try and bring up little bits that pop up during my research that don't quite fit into my dissertation.
With respect, the fear of "tipping off" seems to me unscholarly, anti-intellectual, and, well, silly. I fear there is way too much timorousness and civil-service-type deference in our universities among people who ought to be revelling in their freedom to talk about what is important to them. (Not you, Ryan, not you! Just a sociological observation about Canadian academic culture.)

I sometimes click randomly on the blogs listed down the left hand of the Cliopatria blog, and it amazes me to find blogs on medieval history, Chinese history, women's history, any number of American history subspecialties, and so on, each run by historians or teams of historians who clearly are on fire with enthusiasm for their subjects and can't stop talking about all the ideas and issues that pop up. In the midst of all that, some of them also cover the big historical conventions and the debates that go on there, or talk about how the economic downturn is affecting their departments, or just note who had published something, or moved, or died, or whatever.

I'm a pure spectator in almost all of that -- but it looks like these are people who love their jobs and care about the state of their profession and take the issues that arise seriously. And I like to see that. I am sure there are Canadianists with the same love of their work and the same commitment to their profession -- but they seem pretty much invisible.
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