My fifth Faculty Project lecture on poetry…

… will shortly be available. It’s a close reading of Sunday Morning, by Wallace Stevens.

My fifth in a series of posts at Inside Higher Education about doing a MOOC will also be published soon. I’ll link to it.

Lots of linking to University Diaries lately…

… and UD has been meaning to extend formal welcomes to people boarding her blog from elsewhere. So – UD welcomes readers from

The Atlantic

Chronicle of Higher Ed

Marginal Revolution

I’m glad you’re here. Take a look around.

Back when she started blogging…

UD loved to read a blogger calling himself Fenster Moop. Fenster was witty, wise, and very well-informed about academia.

Fenster left the web for awhile, but he’s back with this new blog.

Blogoscopy: Roger Ebert

My blog became my voice, my outlet, my “social media” in a way I couldn’t have dreamed of. Into it I poured my regrets, desires, and memories. Some days I became possessed. The comments were a form of feedback I’d never had before, and I gained a better and deeper understanding of my readers. I made “online friends,” a concept I’d scoffed at. Most people choose to write a blog. I needed to. I didn’t intend for it to drift into autobiography, but in blogging there is a tidal drift that pushes you that way. Getting such quick feedback may be one reason; the Internet encourages first- person writing, and I’ve always written that way.

… The blog let loose the flood of memories. Told sometimes that I should write my memoirs, I failed to see how I possibly could. I had memories, I had lived a good life in an interesting time, but I was at a loss to see how I could organize the accumulation of a lifetime. It was the blog that taught me how. It pushed me into first- person confession, it insisted on the personal, it seemed to organize itself in manageable fragments. Some of these words, since rewritten and expanded, first appeared in blog forms. Most are here for the first time. They came pouring forth in a flood of relief.

From the beginning of his forthcoming memoir.

UD is thrilled that an early admirer of this blog, Mary Beard…

…. is this year’s Mellon Lecturer. Beard has been a great advocate of University Diaries — many of my British readers got here via her links and kind words.

Beard’s own blog is an outgrowth of her interest in classical studies — and in everything else.

Communicating Rocks…

… is the clever title Peter Copeland, a geology professor at the University of Houston, has given his forthcoming book about writing well when your subject is geology.

Copeland quotes in that book something UD wrote about good writing many years ago on this blog:

Writing—and speech—are intimately disclosing acts. The real difference between a good writer and a bad writer lies in the degree of awareness each brings to this truth. The good writer knows that, like it or not, she’s going to be giving away many things about the quality of her consciousness whenever she writes anything. She’s a good writer largely because she has some degree of control over what she discloses, over the effect she creates, over the human being that materializes, when she sets pen to paper.

UD‘s flattered to have her thoughts about writing featured in this way, for an audience of scientists. She looks forward to reading Copeland’s book.

Corporate Creep…

… at ScienceBlogs.


A New York Times reporter disses bloggers. A blogger responds:

[I]f you think you don’t need to answer to bloggers, some of whom have spent years doing field research or working in Central Asia and now blog as a hobby, the invisible hand of the market is going to find you out. And before you know it, you’ll have taken a buy-out from the New York Times and be teaching creative writing in Maryland.


Ezra Klein, Washington Post:

Twenty years ago, someone with my [political] interests would’ve spent a lot more time reading books because blogs simply didn’t exist yet. Magazines were around, but the advent of the Web led to daily content, so I’ve also spent more time reading those. But I can’t deny it: So much as I love my favorite books, the biggest influences in my thinking have been the continuous intellectual relationships I’ve had with blogs, periodicals and other people. Books aren’t even that close.

The ARCHIVES Function on University Diaries…

… isn’t working at the moment.

We’re trying to fix it.

Stanford Blogs.

The Stanford Daily:

The Internet revolution has created a new outlet for college students to encounter their professors outside of the usual academic setting: blogs. Stanford professors in many departments have taken up blogging about their academic expertise.

“I want to provide a little more information about economic issues than we [encounter] in the classroom or readings,” said economics Prof. John Taylor, who authors the blog “Economics One.” “I also want to share some of what we do in introductory economics at Stanford with a broader audience.”

Stanford professors from a myriad of academic disciplines have, over the years, turned their attention to blogging as a way to not only connect with students through technology, but also to convey much of their research, theories and overall thoughts to the world…

Essays, Academic Writing, Blog Posts

Some intriguing thoughts about the essay and the blog post — from a panel of Stanford professors. Excerpts:

[The speakers all agreed that] the essay is undergoing metamorphosis. Its very definition is becoming blurred – with photographic essays, musical essays, documentary essays and even audio essays potentially diluting the term.

… [One noted that] Stanley Fish’s game-changing blog posts qualify as essays, allowing reader response and follow-up posts. For example, Fish’s New York Times blog post last August, “What Should Colleges Teach?” inspired 619 responses.

“That’s what makes the Internet exciting,” said [one participant]. In the past … the reader “could throw the book against the wall – but that was the limit of engagement.”

… Essays differ from academic writing, which relies on evidence, depending more on the power of language instead: “As an academic, you can get by on so-so language,” [a speaker] said, but not so with the essay. The essay can nevertheless be “much more influential than weighty tomes.”

“The identity of an author is just as important in persuading as the arguments,” said [one professor]. “Paul Krugman doesn’t need pie charts and tables to persuade us of the soundness of his arguments. He just has to sign his name.”

… “Without the heavy armature of footnotes,” [a participant] noted that the Internet offers new ways to incorporate evidence. The hyperlink, for example, “makes the citation part of the essay itself … without making a big fuss about it.”

[One speaker offered a definition of the essay:] “[A] condensed meditation on one topic with a personified voice.”


From The Economic Times, India:

Robert Bruner… the dean of Darden School Of Business at the University of Virginia … has one of the most readable blogs I’ve seen in a long time. His posts are fairly frequent and most of them are so original, well thought out and sincere (as opposed to cynical) that they may actually be called ‘wise,’ a term that’s very seldom used in its true sense these days. Bruner’s posts come with innumerable quotes from literature and his erudition touches subjects ranging from leadership and ethics to innovation and work-life balance, often linking them to contemporary events.

… “A blog is like a huge chalkboard that everyone can read — it helps me extend the reach of my teaching well beyond the classroom,” says Bruner. “I also do it because it allows me to inform my audience, frame an agenda and shape discussion. That’s something leaders need to do.”

… A high grade blog is obviously a time consuming process and Bruner’s advice to busy executives who would be bloggers is to slow down occasionally and make time to reflect on “what it is that delights or pains them most,” when they choose their subjects. “Great writing starts from the heart,” he says. “But then, you have to educate yourself a bit on the subject before you write or else you might express an opinion that has no basis. Finally, when you write, it’s best to pretend you’re speaking to a friend or a sympathetic acquaintance.”

Though he’s been blogging for years now, Bruner never uploads the first draft of his posts — he still takes care to re-work and edit his writing before sending it into the blogosphere. It takes time, but it’s obviously worth it.

“Intellectuals love to blog,” he says. “The blogs of the famous intellectuals constantly refer to each another and contain very stimulating debate. Take Paul Krugman or Gregory Mankiw, economists at two ends of the spectrum. Their arguments are at a level of detail that average readers won’t find interesting, but they do it anyway.”

Academics like Bruner find themselves pulled into the blogosphere in part because their net-savvy students demand it of them. “Once these students graduate into the outside world, they will expect the same thing from the leadership there,” says the dean…

A New UD Post at Inside Higher Ed…

… discusses the recent exposure of an anonymous blogger’s identity.

Men, as accounts of their behavior on this blog amply demonstrate, are impulsive, fragile creatures…

… flitting like butterflies about their little worlds…  Beautiful, delicate things, but when it comes to continuity of thought, rationality, consistency, backbone…

Well, who expects a butterfly to have a backbone?

Take UD‘s colleague, Jeffrey Rosen.  Five years ago, he attacked blogging because it encourages anonymous unfair comments about people (UD discussed his attack here.)

Since then Rosen’s joined the blogging bandwagon big time, and a recent entry of his cited anonymous sources attacking Sonia Sotomayor.  The unfairness of this post pissed off tons of people.

SO… Rosen has announced he’s done with blogging.  He hates it again.  It’s bad again.  Expect more articles from him about how evil it is and how it compromises our privacy…

But mark UD‘s words:  A few years from now, he’ll be blogging.

It’s kind of fun to watch.  Weaker sex and all.

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