It's Diablogical!
A Collaborative Diablog on Feminist Pedagogy
This week’s assignment: Why I love to blog
Categories: Week 1: July 9

Due Date: July 9th
Our Assignment:
Part I/Intro: Why we like blogs each write this section (on the blog) – why we use blogs in our teaching and with our own writing. What is it about blogs that excite us and relates to our ideas on pedagogy and access in the feminist classroom? Coming with our own pieces on what has worked for us in the past we will then weave this together for the introduction. Each of us should aim for 300-350 words by July 9th. General questions to consider below:

  • Why do we like/use blogs?
  • The goal is to position ourselves to the questions at hand – where are we coming from?
  • How does it connect to our teaching and our research/writing?

I must admit, that these questions are a little overwhelming for me. It’s not that I haven’t thought about them or that I don’t know what to write; it’s that I have already written and thought about them a lot (I wouldn’t say too much, but a lot). How can I express what I like about blogs and how can I do it in a mere 300-350 words? At this point, I have already written 196 words. Yikes.

Oh well. Since I need to start somewhere (and with something), I think I will begin with my introductory statement for an online blogging workshop that I gave this past February and then add in some more thoughts (and, of course, eventually take out a lot of words to make it fit into 300-350 words!). I anticipate that some of which I plan to write in this entry won’t make it into the article; I include it because it fits with my larger response to the question of why I love blogging.

My Background
I have used blogs in my Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies classes for three years now. Although many of these blogs were not that successful (a few, especially this, this and this, were great), they have helped me to learn a lot along the way.

In addition to using blogs in my classes, I started writing in my own blog in the summer of 2009. I envisioned it as a tool for writing and teaching, a way to demonstrate and explore connections between my academic training and the “rest of my life,” a way to promote critical thinking and to persistently and passionately argue that it exists everywhere and should be practiced all of the time, and an archive and resource for my own research on troublemaking. For a full explanation, see my “about this site” page. This summer, I have added two more blogs, both collaborative, to this list. In addition to this teaching blog, I am diabloging with my partner on our blog about breaking and reworking our various consumption habits.

Note: I find it interesting that both of the blogs that I have added this summer are collaborative. I can imagine some cool assignments in which I pair (or group) students together in order for them to engage in their own (dia)blogs.

Why Blog?
Having used blogs in my courses for over three years now, I see how valuable they can be for:

  • Developing connections between class members
  • Enabling students to engage with the material and each other in different ways
  • Encouraging students to really think about and process the readings/course topics
  • Helping all of us to organize our thoughts and ideas
  • Establishing a central location for posting information and handouts
  • Extending the space of engagement and learning beyond the physical classroom
  • Getting the students excited about the class
  • Providing a space for students to track their own ideas and engage in critical thinking, learning, community building and knowledge production

I have found blogs to be particularly helpful in my own development and implementation of feminist pedagogical practices, like:

  • Shifting/reworking who counts as an authority or who can produce/share knowledge
  • Providing students with more ways to engage and express that engagement
  • Enabling students to learn from each other, enabling instructor to learn from students
  • Requiring students to claim more responsibility for the class and how it works/doesn’t work
  • Training students in an important form of technology (access)
  • Giving the instructor more opportunities to engage with students/material and to share their own research/knowledge in creative ways
  • Disrupting the rigid boundaries of the classroom in space and time
  • Encouraging the instructor to experiment with new techniques and strategies
  • Cultivating a space for public scholarship and for connecting with a wide range of people/communities inside and outside of the class and the university

And writing and managing my own blog while teaching has been very valuable for my own scholarship. Writing in my trouble blog has enabled me to:

  • Continue writing and researching while teaching 2 courses per semester
  • Find unexpected connections and develop new directions for research as I critically engage with course materials on my blog
  • Maintain my writing/researching skills as I regularly practice them on my own blog and the blogs for my courses
  • Share my work in progress with other scholars, students, folks outside of the university
  • Archive my findings in a way that is accessible for future work
  • Document my writing/researching/thinking process

That’s where my introduction ends. Before I end this entry (which is already way too long), I want to add in a few more reasons for why I blog. Writing in my own blog, reading other blogs, and assigning blogs in my classes is enabling me to develop and practice my own form of troublemaking, a form that encourages me to reject rigid boundaries between disciplines, that inspires me to find creative ways to connect my research with my life, and that enables me to infuse my ideas with a playful sense of humor. And, teaching with blogs and blogging while teaching also enables me to envision and develop my own virtue ethics project. In my most recent blog, Unchained, I am exploring (practically and theoretically) how blogging promotes practices of virtuous selves-in-communities. In ways that I might not be able to articulate right now, I imagine that the repeated and habit-forming practice of writing in/reading blogs has important implications for my pedagogy (inside and outside of the classroom/university setting).

After reviewing this post, I realized that it might be helpful to include some more descriptions of how I use the blog in my classes. Here and here are some descriptions that I posted this year on Trouble.

Okay, here’s one more, much shorter, version of why I blog:

Last summer I fell in love with blogging. Sure I had been using blogs in my classroom
since January 2007, but it wasn’t until I started writing in my own blog in May 2009 that I realized what a powerful space for radical transformation, critical and creative expression and community-building it is. Now it is a year later and blogs play a central role in all aspects of my life as a thinker, learner, writer, teacher and researcher. I use blogs to archive my ideas, to document my research, to put seemingly disparate ideas or representations into conversation, to offer up various accounts of myself, to build relationships with visible and invisible/known and unknown readers, to experiment with pedagogical techniques, to cultivate effective writing and thinking habits, to disrupt the rigid rules and disciplinary borders that discourage new ideas and unexpected connections, to lay bare my own thinking/writing/learning/researching process, to practice what I preach (I mean teach), to develop connections between my different academic selves (the thinker/writer/scholar/teacher), and to remind myself and hopefully others that being a thinker/learner/educator can be energizing and fun. Finally, I use blogs to make trouble—hopefully the good kind that is aimed at transformation and the reworking or dismantling of unjust hierarchies, and that is infused with my own feminist troublemaking ethos.

Whew…that was hard. I’m glad that we will be discussing these and working on them some more tomorrow!

1 Comment to “This week’s assignment: Why I love to blog”

  1. KCF says:

    SLP –

    I absolutely love your final smaller (edited paragraph) had I not waited until the night before our assignment was due, I might have my own concise, lovely paragraph, like yours. But, I think this will make our writing of the introduction (at least how we can merge our two intros together) pretty effortless as I see a lot of themes jumping out from both of our blog entries on the subject! In particular I pulled out the following themes from that small paragraph:
    * Radical transformation
    * Critical and creative expression
    * Community building

    I hope that these themes were conveyed in my lengthy background as well. I also found relevance in your bolded terms near the top of your entry that broke down the uses of blogs for you, and felt a similar desire to engage with these categories (which I hope and am sure we will do while we dialogue about this) of how blogs serve as:
    * tools for writing and teaching
    * demonstrate and explore connections
    * promote critical thinking
    * archive and a resource for your own research (I don’t do this nearly as much as you do – but I see it as a space for me to have a creative outlet for different types of writing.)

    I also really enjoyed this particular quote that you wrote, “Writing in my own blog, reading other blogs, and assigning blogs in my classes is enabling me to develop and practice my own form of troublemaking, a form that encourages me to reject rigid boundaries between disciplines, that inspires me to find creative ways to connect my research with my life, and that enables me to infuse my ideas with a playful sense of humor.” To me, this really intersects with my feelings on blogs/blogging/blogger that I tried to play around with in my own entry. That it is the engagement of all three that really bring blogging to a new level – the multiple interactions that take place between reading blogs, writing blogs and facilitating blogs in classes or collaboratively is what I think pushes us in a new direction (away from some of the writing that is out there about the use of blogs for feminist writing/work). I really want to explore this more!

    Overall, I am SO excited to meet tomorrow, and even though I have to majorly pare down my intro, I feel really energized to write this together, because I think this idea of writing together like this will get us in the right frame of mind to just hit the ground running (well – after our hour of chit chat – who do we think we’re kidding?)!

    PS: I am really starting to appreciate and fall in love more with the idea of “diablogical” or something to do with dialogue + blog because that’s what we’re doing, and if we add this dimension I highlighted above as one of the main purposes of this blog/our article I can really see this working and honestly it’s all rather diabolical as we challenge the very notion of what some may see as the “limits” of blogging in the feminist classroom!

    Ok, time for brain to power down, I hope you have a great night, see you tomorrow!