I blog therefore I am? by Cora Beth Knowles

(Note to the reader: I resisted the considerable temptation to entitle this post ‘Blogito ergo sum’. Please admire my restraint.)

computer

For a long time I was a non-blogger. Blog-averse, blog-resistant, even blog-phobic. Writing a public weblog seemed like the internet equivalent of cornering somebody at a party and talking for an hour about your persistent fungal nail infection.

Recently, however, I’ve begun to wonder whether I may have been too hasty in my complete rejection of the whole blogosphere. Perhaps there are a few worthy blogs, hidden under a rock somewhere, which have something to offer to the serious student. Perhaps (and I’m not admitting to anything here) this website might itself have certain blog-like qualities.

So here is my round-up of significant landmarks in the world of classical blogs, which might be worth a look.

  1. Mary Beard, ‘A Don’s Life’: https://www.the-tls.co.uk/category/a-dons-life/ Touches on politics, current affairs and a behind-the-scenes look at academia. This blog has done a great deal to popularise Classics, so it has to make it onto my shortlist.
  2. The Rogue Classicist: https://rogueclassicism.com/ Always good for interesting and sometimes surprising thoughts.
  3. Bryn Mawr Classical Review: http://www.bmcreview.org/ Perhaps not quite the standard model of a blog: it consists of book reviews from numerous contributors. Very useful if you’re interested in the latest publications.
  4. Current Epigraphy: http://www.currentepigraphy.org/ Does what it says on the tin. If you want to keep up with current news on epigraphy, this is the blog for you.
  5. The Open University Classical Studies Blog: http://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/classicalstudies/ Useful for news and OU-related material.
  6. Edith Hall, ‘The Edithorial’: http://edithorial.blogspot.co.uk/ Some thoughtful and inspirational stuff.
  7. If you have a favourite Classics blog, do mention it in the ‘comments’ section.

If you’re a Classics student new to blogs, take a look at some of the blogs out there (there are, of course, many more than I’ve mentioned here): they may give you some ideas for research or wider reading – or they may just make you smile. ‘Follow’ one or two and you’ll receive new posts by email, taking all the effort out of it.

There is, however, a caveat. I quote here from the blog (ah, the irony!) of Neville Morley from Exeter (https://thesphinxblog.com/):

 …to an alarming degree classics blogs seem to be focused on identifying examples of classical things and references in the mass media, as if to reassure us that we’re still vaguely relevant.

In part, this is an inevitable result of the separate histories of our disciplines, so that political studies, economics and the other social sciences can feel reasonably confident of their continued significance whereas we’re constantly defensive and insecure. But it’s also a reflection of different ideas of what a blog can do and how it could relate to ‘normal’ academic practice. For us, blogs remain a marginal activity pursued by a few enthusiasts, associated with popularisation and ‘impact’; in the eyes of many of our colleagues, I suspect, an irrelevant or even dangerous distraction from proper work.

Morley directs our attention to the way British classical blogs sneakily dodge academic credibility and serious discussion, leaving us with intermittent posts comprised of random and entertaining fluff. Is he right? It’s difficult to disagree. But if blogs allow university classicists to be human, entertaining and a delight to their readers, I think there’s a place for them in a discipline often considered to be hidebound, dry and inward-looking.

So you have my permission to blog away, fellow classicists. Show the rest of the world that we’re not all as serious as we look!

 

Cora Beth Knowles

 

 

 

 


2 thoughts on “I blog therefore I am? by Cora Beth Knowles

  1. Neville Morley has a point regarding classists’ self-image viz-a-viz modern disciplines which allow students to study the likes of MBA and PPE degrees. When distilled to their essence they are infact exercises in advanced typing and blagging respectively. I feel that the lessons to be learnt from the likes of Mary Beard on Rome, Donald Kagan on the Peloponnesian War or Tom Holland on monotheism in late antiquity are far more relevant to today’s geopolitics than dare I say it David Cameron, Ed Miliband or Nick Clegg (to name but three) who, armed with their Oxbridge Firsts and 2:1’s in PPE have guided us to these sunlit uplands! A greater understanding of Thucydides or Seneca, for example might well have been far more useful. So, fellow classisists- less of the Gestalt therapy and “carpe diem”!

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  2. It may perhaps be unfair to single out PPE (I’ve come across many a worse degree!), but I certainly agree that a thorough knowledge of Thucydides is a benefit in most walks of life! Having said that, those politicians who do have a strong classical background are not exactly devoid of flaws…!

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