Kieran Fenby-Hulse works at the Faculty of Arts at the University of Brighton as a Research Officer. Between 2005 and 2008, he was the editorial assistant for the Cambridge-published journal Eighteenth-Century Music. His principal research interest lies with understanding the relationship between music and narrative and he is currently exploring the impact digital media has had on how we listen to and understand music.

I was recently invited to participate in a panel discussion on single and multi-author blogging models as part of the Transforming Objects Conference held at Northumbria University. The task of trying to consolidate my thoughts on blogging was interesting as it forced me to wrestle with some very difficult questions, such as what is a blog, who am I writing for, and perhaps most pertinently, how does blogging help me to understand and write about music?

One of the reasons I started blogging was that the digital format enabled me to incorporate sample music and video clips to aid with my discussion of music. One of the joys of writing a blog is that by embedding links and references to other websites, readers can listen to the music or movie clip being discussed whilst reading the text. Blogs, then, encourage intertextual connections. Embedded links and hyperlinks mean that references can be made to other posts, external websites, other bloggers, and that video and sound clips can be imported from sites such as YouTube and platforms such as Spotify.

As well as having an intertextual element, blogs are essentially open narratives. Posts are constantly added to the site and older posts can be revisited, revised, and reformulated either as new posts, updates, or edited versions of the older posts. In this sense, the blog is an interesting literary genre as it resists the notion of the finished “work” and allows for change, revision, and expansion.

The open nature of a blog’s narrative also stems from the fact that readers can engage and add comments. I am particularly fond of using my blog to discuss ideas on the periphery of my discipline and to encourage discussion and debate by suggesting unusual connections between different works and art forms. I feel the opening up of a space for readers to ask questions and discuss ideas is one of the most interesting elements of blogging. The blog is not a space to simply broadcast ideas, but a place to learn, network, and engage with a variety of audiences.

The idea of an open and ever-expanding narrative is something I believe could be of great benefit to academic publishers. Blogs encourage dialogue and discussion, which perhaps stands in contrast with the often hermetically sealed format of the journal article. By bringing together blogging and journal publications, there is the potential for blogging to open up the conversation, for ideas to be discussed, and for new ideas, connections, and networks to be developed both inside and outside of academia.

To read more from Kieran, visit his blog here.

Comments

  1. I really liked your definition of what a blog is and how we should understand the practice of blogging. I agree that a blog should be more than a space in which to connect with the public. It should, as you say, be a ‘place to learn, network, and engage with a variety of audiences’. However, I wonder if, as bloggers, we could expand on the digital formatting of our work. Given the range of possibilities I’m always struck by the dominance of text-based posts and images in academic blogging. Does this reflect the attachment that scholars (I supposes my familiarity is with humanities blogs) have to the written word, or is it evidence that bloggers needs to engage more with digital technology and its possibilities?

  2. Hi Lucie,

    I completely agree – there is so much potential now, especially with HTML5. I think tradition has caused the attachment to the written word, but I think there is now huge potential for experimentation with more creative and more interactive forms of publication and presentation. Something I am very keen to look into and develop actually.

  3. Hi Kieran, I enjoyed your post and multimodal conception of blogging. In the visual arts and music the monomodality of ‘the literary’ clearly favours particular narrow-bandwidth interpretations. I happen recently to have been exploring art-historical conceptions of Leonardo da Vinci in my blog (http://wp.me/p1Gjpm-mF) and have enjoyed showing images from the Touch Press app for his anatomical drawings. This app shows the English translation of Leonardo’s Florentine mirror writing in situ rather than as a separate commentary. For the non-specialist this makes possible a counterpoint of meanings and allusion that is much more expressive of the unified field or gestalt world-view that seems to have spurred Leonardo on to the full breadth and depth of his imaginings and research.
    Re. ‘the opening up of a space for readers to ask questions and discuss ideas is one of the most interesting elements of blogging’, I am disappointed that WordPress, for example, disallows those who are *not* also bloggers to post comments. Blogging (on the most commonly used platforms) does not quite work as you suggest, even though the existence of my comment proves me wrong *here*.

  4. Hi Kieran,
    I really enjoyed reading this article. I particularly liked the way you have brought out the differences between academic articles and blogging. Writing is certainly evolving and who knows even academic writing which has so far been quite rigid in a sense, shall evolve too. For any idea/movement to grow, it’s evolution and adaptability to changing circumstances is very much required. And if the idea/movement incorporates the principles of inclusiveness through openness, sharing and feedback, then the idea is sure to stay for a long time. This, in my eyes is one of the major advantages that blogging has.

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