As Chris Cantewell mentioned earlier this month, he and Kristian Petersen organized a stellar panel on the Digital Futures of Religious Studies. As an AAR Wildcard Session, they have planned a panel that is, in Chris's words, "robust and expansive, with discussions about digital research projects, online publications, and new media teaching methods." With a baker's dozen sitting on the panel, the session promises to offer a variety of perspectives and consideration of an array of digital technologies.
As a part of the panel, I'm representing Religion in American History. To frame my thoughts on blogging and the role of RiAH, I've prepared a slideshow. As a preview for those who will be at the panel and as a way to bring more people in to the conversation, you can scroll through it here. Clicking through is worth if for nothing else than the picture of the one and only Paul Harvey. My thoughts can be summarized pretty simply: rather than conceptualizing blogs (especially this blog) as a part of the traditional professional triad of teaching/research/service, I think we should think of it instead as the glue that holds those pieces together. Blogs can serve in any of those three roles, depending on the blog and how contributors or readers use it. And each blog is different. For some, it might make sense to make a case that their blog contributions "fit" as research, but for others that isn't necessarily the case (and that can be okay). At this blog, I see contributors and readers use it for research, teaching, and service, but also a fourth important aspect of scholarly activity: community building. This aspect of blogging is essential for any field because it helps to create the network of peers who shape the field.
Those are my thoughts it brief, but I'm interested in hearing yours. Readers are welcome to fill out this brief survey to let us know what you think works and doesn't work at the blog. And, if you're at AAR, feel free to stop me and let me know your thoughts in person. You can find me at one of the Religion in America panels I've outlined here. By the way, does anyone know how to be in two places at once? Asking for a friend....