I’ve just read this piece in the Guardian. It talks about the need for academics to engage with people outside academia, to reach out to the wider public. So it got me thinking again about what I do in this blog.
Blogging is not mentioned (I don’t know if it’s even occurred to any of the academics interviewed*), but one of my goals here has been to create a space to talk about what I do to a wider audience than just other academic historians. Am I succeeding? I’ve had, it needs to be said, less time recently to write posts about my own research interests, although you can easily find (what I consider to be) the best stuff via the ‘Favourite Posts’ section in the sidebar. And it’s not part of the blog, but I’m particularly proud of this section of the main website, and I hope to do more like it at some point in the not too distant future. If I do, you’ll hear all about it here.
Anyway, I’d like it very much if you the readers – especially people who don’t usually comment, perhaps – could leave a few lines telling me a little bit about yourselves and what you do get out of reading this blog. You don’t need to identify yourselves (pseudonyms will be just fine), but if you could say a bit about whether you’re an academic/student (and if so, which discipline), or you do something else altogether (if so, did you ever study history at university/college?); what sort of interests in history you have; what you like best here. Perhaps you just come for entertainment; that’s fine (in fact, it’s great). But it’d interest (and gratify) me a lot to know if you feel that somewhere along the line you’ve learnt something new too, and even in an entertaining way.
(And if you feel too shy to do this online, you could send me an email to email@example.com)
* At least one of them would probably be sniffy about what goes on here anyway, since his idea of engaging with the public seems to revolve primarily around confrontation: ‘fighting your corner’ and ‘rebutting argument’. I like my dialogues, on the whole, to be in a gentler mode. (I’m more interested in being a scholar who finds new ways to communicate my scholarship than in being a ‘public intellectual’ who loudly debates current affairs, I suppose.)