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‘Press Publish’: Interview with Joel Watts

‘Press Publish’: Interview with Joel Watts

The following is part of a series of short interviews with academic bloggers. (The ‘hub’ for the discussion is the initial post on Starting an Academic Blog where the discussion and links to interviews are kept up-to-date).

Today I share the final planned interview, this one with a student/early-career blogger, Joel Watts. He holds a Masters of Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament, and has authored Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (2013). He blogs (now with a team) at

Joel briefly mentions some of his story below, particularly how blogging profoundly impacted his thinking by challenging his views. For more on the back-story, try his 2012 SBL paper. For students thinking about blogging, consider also Brian LePort’s discussion which is something of a preview of his forthcoming SBL paper. I will reflect further on this in a future blog post.

1. When and why did you start blogging?

I started in Feb. of 2008. My initial reason was a bit egotistical. I believed I had all of the right answers and needed to tell the world about them. I was not interested in academic blogging because academia was that dark, foreign land filled with demons.

2. What are a few of the benefits you see in blogging? 

Blogging pulled me into academia because I was challenged by academics. Blogging provides a challenge, if we are able to take such challenges, because our voice is not just our own. We do not blog in an echo chamber. If I blog something others find questionable, someone may answer back. So, the main benefit is really to draw the world closer to the thinker and make the blogger more intellectually responsible.

3. Should more academics be blogging? 

Yes, more academics should be blogging. We have enough trolls on the internet spreading false information and creating media firestorms that we need honest academics speaking about facts.

4. What advice would you give an academic who is thinking about starting? 

Co-blog with someone first. Team up and them after you are ready, then, if you want, blog by yourself. We have a plethora of blogs today because everyone wants their own soapbox, so it is rather difficult to get noticed. And, if you make mistakes right out of the gate, you are likely to be discarded. So, start small, start with someone, start slow.

Thanks again to Joel for the interview, and apologies to everyone for the delay in the series. I will offer reflections on the series soon.

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