The Gothic Academy Online: Why Blog?

Posted by Matt Foley on August 10, 2015 in Blog tagged with , , , , , ,

By Matt Foley and Rebecca Duncan

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What is The Gothic Imagination?

The Gothic Imagination website has become a lively and valuable online resource for Gothic scholarship, both in the UK and in the wider context of the international academy. The site was founded in 2007 by Glennis Byron – now Professor Emeritus at the University of Stirling – and has been run, in recent years, under the curatorship of Dr Dale Townshend and Dr Matt Foley. Since its inception, it has showcased submissions from widely read critics such as Catherine Spooner, Monica Germana and Franz Potter, and has published interviews conducted by the likes of Linnie Blake, Danel Olsen and Glennis Byron. At the same time, The Gothic Imagination has also served as a platform for postgraduate students and emerging researchers who have produced content for the blog that draws on their on-going Masters, PhD or postdoctoral projects. The site has thus become a forum for both new and established scholars, and contributors from each of these categories have used the blog format – which is more brief and less clearly defined than formal, peer-reviewed publication – to explore new directions in their as-yet unpublished research. As a result of this, The Gothic Imagination has frequently featured material which represents the cutting edge of the dynamic and growing field of Gothic scholarship, and the site has purchase, too, beyond the walls of the academy. The blog has served as a means of disseminating information about events and publications that appeal not only to participants in an scholarly field, but also to members of a wider public: the 7000 unique hits the blog gets every month come from students and academics, and from horror enthusiasts more generally.

All of this reflects the objectives of The Gothic Imagination, which have remained relatively unchanged since its inauguration. These aims can be summarised as follows:

  • To provide an interdisciplinary forum for lively discussion and critical debate concerning all manifestations of the Gothic mode, be these historical iterations or more modern and contemporary cultural events.
  • To establish (and maintain) an Internet-based community of Gothic scholars and enthusiasts, and to serve as a platform for the dissemination of information relevant to our mutual Gothic interests.
  • To provide information about exciting new developments in Gothic studies around the world. The blog offers the opportunity both to read and write reviews of contemporary literary, filmic, musical and visual cultural engagements of Gothic thematics and aesthetics, and it also features discussions of new academic interventions in the field of Gothic studies.

The Value of Blogging

The format of the blog itself and the exposure enabled by the reach of The Gothic Imagination conspire to make the production of blog material a particularly worthwhile research exercise for emerging scholars. The value of writing in this way for the online community is at least twofold: it provides a means of bringing research into the public eye of an interested audience, and it facilitates a productive distillation of what might be an as-yet broad and amorphous set of hypotheses. Firstly, then, blogging helps build-up your profile in the field of Gothic studies. Your work will be widely read and shared across social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress feeds. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, blogging can help you crystalize your own ideas: particularly those that are yet to find publication or are yet to be submitted as a part of a thesis. We have noticed over the years that the blog form has a positive quality of ‘shortness’ – which is a term used often by scholars of the short story. This characteristic of the blog-text is especially salient for scholars who wish to use the blog to showcase work that is not finalised, but ongoing. The brevity of the format forces a researcher to summarise (and in turn organise) their thoughts and research on a subject, and, in basic terms, to explain key outcomes (or at least those they are willing to share at the time). The wide and varied readership of the blog thus demands not only concision, but also level of clarity that requires a deepened understanding of the material at hand: in order to present your ideas in a way that makes them available to a non-specialist reader, it is necessary first that you have the kind of firm grasp on fundamental principles that will allow you to flesh these out in accessible terms.

In these ways, blogging presents a potentially very productive resource for the early-career or postgraduate researcher: it demands critical rigour and clarity, but is at the same time fluid enough to accommodate works-in-progress, which it disseminates within an established field. Pursuing academic blogging provides a chance, then, for you to hone your writing, while at the same time beginning to build a research profile.

To summarise, blogging helps you in two ways:

  • Your research profile is enhanced
    • It allows exposure to a wide community of Gothic enthusiasts and academics
    • Work is shared across our Facebook and Twitter channels
    • Fully searchable on Google
    • 7000 unique hits per month on the site
  • As an exercise in concision
    • An excellent way to test the clarity of your ideas
    • The blog format should be concise and accessible to a wider audience

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