This month, the blog is turning five years old! I’ve reflected before on why I blog (here and here), and it feels like time to check in with myself again.
5 (More) Reasons Why I Blog
1. It’s a social justice issue.
More and more, public scholarship is why I feel called to blog about my research (like these posts on men and Weight Watchers and healthy food blogs and hyper-femininity and Vegemite marketing in the US) and to live-tweet conferences and other academic events that I attend (like the #OXYFOOD17 conference or the recent workshop on Capitalism and the Senses.)
Knowledge produced in the academy should not stay in the “ivory tower” and should not be solely available behind a paywall. Blogs and social media provide more democratic, low-to-no-cost, and widely accessible spaces for dissemination, translation, and discussion.
2. It opened doors I never imagined existed + helped me learn new things.
EVERYTHING from the “In the News” section on this blog—being interviewed by journalists, being on podcasts and local TV, and being invited to give the keynote at Hot & Healthy Habits 2017 Retreat (which was SO MUCH fun!)—would not have happened without the blog. I had no idea any of these opportunities would come my way. Admittedly, none of it was because of my first few posts either.
I talked recently on a panel about not being afraid to learn in public, whether it’s blogging, tweeting, or gramming for the first time as part of one’s academic persona. I didn’t know how this worked when I started. I learned as I went along, and things got easier and better with each post and every blog redesign.
3. It gave me space to practice reflexive teaching + prepared me for public humanities projects.
I’d been blogging for a few years when I started teaching my own courses, so it gave me a platform to share what we were doing in the classroom, like teaching and learning with cookbooks and developing dietary guidelines informed by critical nutrition studies.
Blogging myself also ensured that I was comfortable with WordPress, making it logistically easy for me to incorporate class blogs into the syllabus, like our final projects: Food + Gender in U.S. Popular Culture and What Is American Food? It’s also given me enough tech savvy to test out new technologies in the classroom, like using Pinterest and Google apps for class activities or FaceTime for snow day office hours.
4. It allowed me to share resources that have helped other graduate students.
Some of the most emotionally moving emails I’ve received as a result of the blog have been from grad students who’ve read a post—like how to find the right PhD program for you or write a statement of purpose or find a food studies program or conference like a rockstar—and had it shape the direction of their career.
I shared these resources in the hopes that they’d make some of the hurdles of academia more transparent and manageable, but the two-way communication that the blog opened up was an unexpected and truly wonderful surprise. Every one of them brings me to happy tears. Which is to say, if you’ve ever read anything on this blog and enjoyed it or found it helpful, I would genuinely LOVE to hear from you.
5. It’s (still) fun.
After my first year blogging, the fun factor rounded out my list of reasons for blogging. I still feel that way. I don’t scrapbook or knit (anymore) or bake (all that often). Blogging isn’t just part of my academic work; it’s has become one of my hobbies. From the design aspects to learning to do my own photography to practicing more creative styles of writing, blogging has been a very enjoyable creative outlet for me, especially during some of the more difficult chapters in the PhD process.
I recommend blogging to all academics, but especially to grad students seeking a positive and constructive space for experimentation and professional development—in addition to Instagramming your progress as part of #phdlife, which works wonders too.
5 (Older) Favorite Posts
I ‘ve written 144 posts to date, so as a final way to celebrate these five years blogging, I scrolled through the archives and found 5 posts from my early days of blogging that were worth bringing to the surface again:
- What Does the Fridge Say? A Historical Photo Essay (February 2014)
- Tofu & Tapenade? The Unspoken Food Rules of Football (January 2014)
- When Theory Actually Applies: Starbucks is to Bourdieu as Dunkin’ Donuts is to Foucault (January 2013)
- Curating the History of American Convenience Cuisine (October 2012)
- Chewing on the ‘Last Supper’ in “Drive” -OR- Viewing Ryan Gosling Through a Food Studies Lens (September 2012)
Top Image Credit: Emily Contois
Emily, I always enjoy reading your work and you help inspire me to continue my own writing. Sue
Oh thank you, Sue! I’ve loved following your teaching adventures.
Congratulations, Emily. Your blog is a model for other academics (and bloggers generally) and I hope your influence spreads!
A million thanks for your most generous praise, Jan. This means so much coming from you with your incredible blog!