We’re lucky, in Oxford, to have the Ashmolean Museum. It’s free, it’s beautiful; it runs amazing events; its collections are stunning. And last Friday, the museum very kindly allowed me to run a peripatetic class on Victorian literature, as we walked around its galleries.
Nearly two months after the first Stevie Smith conference, I’m finally getting round to writing it up!
As I think about the direction I want Parrots Ate Them All to take, two things seem clear.
That academic blogging is important, both professionally and intellectually. More than a box-ticking exercise for research impact, writing for the lay reader helps you develop a clear style and a constant awareness of purpose. I think of it in the same way I think about my teaching. I’ve always enjoyed tutoring a range of students, from pre-literate five-year-olds to university learners. Each pupil requires me to select and frame my ideas differently. And, invariably, this variety of approaches strengthens my teaching, writing and theorising on all levels.
That posting research on academic blogs also puts the author at risk of plagiarism. Lucy Williams wrote a shocking piece for the Guardian last year, about a tabloid newspaper’s theft of her work. While I doubt the Daily Mail will be interested in much I have to say about Stevie Smith’s aphorisms, Lucy’s story is a warning. Anyone starting a blog needs to be clear about the risks involved, and to consider in what ways they want to protect their writing.
I move down to Oxford in two weeks, to start my English DPhil. I’m excited and invigorated, but also apprehensive. Over the next three years, I’ll be trying to place articles in peer-reviewed journals, give talks, teach, help organise conferences or seminars, disseminate my research in more accessible formats and – of course – actually research and write my thesis! That feels like a lot of pressure. I want to lay as much groundwork as possible, to help these three or four years run smoothly.