Pre-Interview Discussion

Blogging 101

Blogs as Reflections of Identity

Blogs as Scholarly Activities

Hosting an Academic Blog

Future Projects

Post-Interview Reflection

Pre-Interview Discussion

Blogs have been discussed in a number of ways with regard to their place in the professional lives and scholarly agendas of academics. In particular, we've seen debates over whether or not blogs can or should be considered scholarship. Evident in a recent article in Kairos, "'Where Do I List This on My CV?' Considering the Values of Self-Published Web Sites Version 2.0," Steven D. Krause writes about the complexities associated with blogs as "scholarship" (scholarly activity that counts towards tenure at a local institution) and "Scholarship" (scholarly activity that broadly advances knowledge in the field). Krause concludes that "while blogging in and of itself probably doesn't rise to the level of something that most institutions would count as scholarship for the purposes of review, tenure, and promotion, it can lead to [S]cholarship indirectly." In addition to Krause's perceptions of blogs, Jen Almjeld's naming of blogs "as academic storehouses and factories for scholarly work" in an article from Computers & Composition Online contributes to how blogs can function in the professional lives of academics. Though Krause and Almjeld see the merit in blogs and the act of blogging, some still approach blogging on the side of caution, since blogs can sometimes function no more than just, as Daniel W. Drezner writes in The Chronicle of Higher Education, "outlet[s] for unexpurgated, unreviewed, and occasionally unprofessional musings" (2006, p. B7). Still, the blog posts of veteran techno-rhetoricians such as Cheryl Ball and Clancy Ratliff, as well as newcomer Robin Murphy, suggest that academicians may be intent on reframing these internet spaces as multimodal, multidimensional venues where personality, professionalism, and scholarship intertwine. 

Given these perspectives (by no means exhausted in this brief discussion), we suggest that viewing blogs through the lens of scholarly activity opens a space where varying acts of professionalizing one's self in the field can converge to show the depth and breadth of one's scholarly identity.  Such a vantage point is especially evident in the blog work of Ratliff whose site CultureCat received the 2005-2006 John Lovas Memorial Academic Weblog Award from Kairos.  Ratliff was also recently honored by Computers and Composition with the 2007 Hugh Burns Best Dissertation Award for her work entitled,  "'Where are the Women?' Rhetoric and Gender in Weblog Discourse."  Evidenced in the honors Ratliff has received and her digital scholarly presence, we find her work indicative of how a scholar's identity is shaped and can continue to be shaped professionally by her blog.

In our interview with Ratliff, we ask questions that focus on five areas of interest:

  • Blogging 101 explains some of the motivating factors behind starting, designing, and maintaining a blog.
  • Blogs as Reflections of Identity addresses multiple approaches to blogging and how those approaches shift as a result of changes in Ratliff's identity from a graduate student to a tenure-track faculty member.
  • Blogs as Scholarly Activities addresses the ways in which a blog can not only be located within and among print-based scholarly activities, but also located as a scholarly activity itself.
  • Hosting an Academic Blog explains how blogs can serve as a means for engaging in broader academic discussions both inside and outside the field of writing.
  • Future Projects demonstrates Ratliff's plans to write in response to the current objections some may have toward conducting research on blogs.  

About Clancy
Clancy Ratliff is an Assistant Professor of English and Director of First Year Writing at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She is a specialist in feminist rhetorics, digital media, modern rhetorical theory, technical communication, and intellectual property and authorship.

Ratliff was awarded the Hugh Burns Best Dissertation Award by Computers and Composition in May 2007. The previous year, Kairos honored her with the John Lovas Memorial Academic Weblog Award.

Ratliff's recent publications include "Attracting Readers: Sex and Audience in the Blogsphere" in Scholar and Feminist Online (2007). Her work, "Weblogs with Creative Commons License" has been accepted for publication in the upcoming collection, Composition, Copyright, and Intellectual Property Law, edited by Stephen Westbrook.