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‘Press Publish’: Interview with Stephen Carlson

‘Press Publish’: Interview with Stephen Carlson

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 am happy to feature an interview with Dr. Stephen Carlson (Ph.D. Duke University), Post-doctoral fellow in Pre-Constantinian Christianity at Uppsala University, Sweden. He has written a number of journal articles and in 2005 published The Gospel Hoax: Morton Smith’s Invention of Secret Mark.

1. When and why did you start blogging?

I started blogging back in 2003 when I was an amateur very interested in Biblical Studies (I had already published an article in NTS) but at the time not thinking or realizing that I should pursue an academic career. So I blogged to be part of the academic conversation that was going on online because this conversation was not available in my daily life. At the beginning I found it invigorating and I decided to the take the academic plunge and applied to the Duke graduate program. I have to admit, however, that, after coming to Duke in 2007, I found the local conversation so stimulating (and the workload so demanding) that blogging became less important for my life as a scholar.

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

I think there are some benefits for blogging. It allows one to be part of a larger conversation. This can be very important for people not in academia or those who are in a very small department in isolated areas. Whether or not the conversation happens in blog or face-to-face, it is these conversations that generate ideas for further reflection and research. These ideas can then lead to articles, books, and becoming that inspired teacher.

3. Should more academics be blogging?

Well, it depends. If it’s just to chat about politics, celebrities, or the scandal of the day, it can be a big negative. Granted, we all chat about these to some extent in our daily lives (we are not robots, most of us, that is), but doing it online in blogs permanently documents the minimum extent of that interest and informs your tenure or promotions committee what you found more interesting than your research. But I think blogging can have benefits in terms of inspiring ideas for further study.

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

I think that academics thinking about blogging ought to consider how it should fit into their conception of their work and personal life. Blogging, if done right, will take quite some time and only you can decide for yourself whether that time will be worth it.

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