Monday, December 05, 2005

Stop obsessing about biblioblogging

This has been pointed out by others (e.g. Stephen Carlson and Jim Davila) but it's worth another mention in spite of the fact that I had said that I would myself stop posting on this topic. Chris Weimer posts the following:

"Biblioblogging", "Femiblogging" and Blogdom

The post includes lines like "Personally I find the whole debate quite ludicrous" and "What is all this nonsense of being a club/association/whatever?" and "Honestly, folks, I don't see all the huff about this?" I feel a little chastened by some of Chris's remarks but in agreement with much of the post. Just a couple of minor points:
". . . At the SBL conference, for some reason I'm not exactly sure of, there was a biblioblogging session . . ."
It was because I was asked to put the session together, and was happy to do so. In fact the request came from two places, the SBL organizers, who wanted to find a space where blogging could be discussed at the meeting, and the CARG steering committee, who thought it would be a useful topic to discuss in their section. Perhaps we would have been better off not to have used the specific term "biblioblogging" (I wrote the title and blurb for the section), but I think it was a great idea to have a session to discuss blogging in our area. Why not? One of the most enjoyable sessions I've been to at the SBL, also one of the worst attended, was in 2002 (Toronto) on e-lists, in which I got together a panel to discuss e-lists in our area. Same reason: why not? It was also all white, male, and even had some of the same panelists as the blogging session three years later, and I think we also talked then about the lack of female e-listers. I've been thinking a bit recently about the comparisons between the e-lists and the blogs (e.g. in my Biblioblogger interview) and I find the some close comparisons -- comparatively few mainstream scholars, a good number of independent scholars, graduate students and so on. One difference is that no one ever (successfully) tried to create a collective name for e-lists in areas connected with academic Biblical Studies.

There's just one area where I think Chris misses it a bit:
Why are there not more female bibliobloggers? Does it really matter? Are we really going to quibble over whether results come from a male or female? In biblical and general antiquity studies, males dominate the field. Since blogging is merely an extension of a field, perhaps the problem lies deeper.
Of course it matters that there are not more women bloggers in our area, and not because we are more or less inclined to listen to an opinion depending on the gender of the author, but because none of us presume that males have a monopoly on intelligent discourse in our area. Given that males are dominating the blogging field in our area, and in an even higher proportion than they are dominating the academy more broadly, there are far too many female voices that we are not hearing. The issue became serious because the claim was being made that we male bloggers are in some way not just a symptom of the problem but also the cause of it, albeit inadvertently, by naming, including and excluding. My concern (e.g. mentioned here) is that our inevitable concern about the issue has the wrong result -- it unduly problematizes something that we are unlikely to be able to do anything about, and which we may make worse by the way we potentially isolate.


Jim said...

The problem, of course, is that Chris, by his own admission, was not at the meeting. In my view, if someone is genuinely interested in something they take part first hand and don't snipe from a distance. Complaining about a session while not viewing it as important enough to attend said meeting merits something of a scowl in reply.

Mark Goodacre said...

That might be a bit harsh, Jim. He wasn't at the SBL at all, and his comments are mainly based on the blog posts.

Chris Weimer said...


I apologize if I appeared to be "chastizing" you or anyone else for that matter. That was not my intent. I clarified once more on my blog and now perhaps we can move on to more important things (like your idol/demon question!).


David said...

i'm kind of sorry i mentioned it ...