Saturday, September 15, 2012

Why the heck do I keep blogging? Imagining my career path already...

Yeah yeah yeah, it's been three weeks since my last post. I know. But I just started a PhD program, so I'm not doing much other than reading, and reading, and reading lately. But I want to keep this up, so I will try to keep doing blog posts once in a while, but probably even less regularly than I did over the summer.

Let me take a quick moment to explain one of my reasons to continue to keep up this blog. I know not a lot of people read it, but it's important to me, personally, to keep writing it. This is not only because of the need for an outlet I expressed in my very first post, but also because of my hopes for the kind of academic career I want to have.

Now, what could blogging have to do with becoming an English professor? Well, while many of my professors here at Cornell are repeatedly telling me and the rest of the first-year cohort it's too early to be thinking about the job market or professionalizing in general, I have to say it's hard for me to not think about it. I mean, we all imagine what we want to be when we grow up, right? I'm still doing that. I know not to stress about the market, but I certainly have a vision (that very well could change!) of what kind of professional I want to be. So it was interesting when on the very first day of the course I'm taking titled "Toni Morrison's Novels" part of our discussion was about the question of "what is a public intellectual?"

In all of my wide-eyed first-year graduate student naivety I have this idea of somehow shaping myself into some kind of public intellectual. For me, while I very much look forward to teaching, research, and even the challenges of faculty governance (though from what I'm hearing this will very very quickly dissipate!), I also want to do work "outside" the traditional bounds of the academy. I want to provoke discussion not only in the classroom, but also at the dinner table or the pub about power structures and cultural issues. I actually enjoy academic writing, and like a lot of my young peers I've met so far at Cornell have ambitions of publishing articles in prestigious academic journals or even an academic book one day. But I also want to write newspaper columns, books for readers beyond the world of academia, and blog posts.

Yes, blog posts. Because of the work that I do and the topics that are of greatest interest to me (structures of power which shape the material/political conditions in which people live, especially as related to race in the United States), I believe it is imperative that serious discussions about these topics happen in as many places as possible with as many people as possible. And I mean discussions, not me lecturing the world about what I think all of our problems are as I stand on a huge soap box. I think it's important for folks to talk about these things together. At least in this country, our public discussions about race that get media coverage are often superficial at best and deeply problematic at worst. I want to do whatever little bit I can to change that. And that means doing different kinds of writing besides the traditional academic articles or books.

So keeping this blog alive is important to me because it's good training. It helps me to keep writing in a not so formally academic voice. And who knows, maybe some folks will read some of the things I post and have a discussion with a friend or coworker about them. And maybe some good discussions will be had.

That's the hope anyway.  


  1. Brochacho, you used "pedagogy" in your title. It's already too formal :)
    I kid, I'm enjoying reading this in reverse order.