I've kept this blog, on and off, since 2006. In 2015 I used it to chart daily encounters, images, thoughts and feelings about volcanic basalt/bluestone in Melbourne and Victoria, especially in the first part of the year. I plan to write a book provisionally titled Bluestone: An Emotional History, about human uses of and feelings for bluestone. But I am also working on quite a few other projects and a big grant application, especially now I am on research leave. I'm working mostly from home, then, for six months, and will need online sociability for company!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Protocols for this Blog

Liz Conor's generosity in posting the first outline of her ARC application (in her comment to my first post) raises some tricky questions for this blog: issues about intellectual property, formatting, and readership.

When I was thinking about setting up this blog, I wrote to my collaborators on the ARC application that is currently under assessment, asking how they'd feel if I made available our final application, the assessors' reports and our rejoinder. No one minded in principle: the general feeling was that these are such public documents anyway that there was no cause for embarrassment here. But one member of the team raised the spectre of intellectual property theft, having been burnt by this in the past. So I guess this is an issue to think about (and I've yet to decide how much of this application to make public, while it is still being assessed).

The 'comments' section on the blog probably isn't appropriate for long drafts, so if we were to share our drafts we'd need to use the English department web page, but this is completely open to all to read, and I could understand people being unwilling to make their drafts so accessible. I am determined to do this with my own application, though; and perhaps the publicity of the blog and, ok, the smallness of the field - medieval popular culture - will be my protection. You can find this draft by clicking on the first link in the side column.

Who will read the blog? I've sent the URL to the department of English, as well as a few colleagues and friends in Australia and the US, and it's the nature of blogging to develop links with other blogs. If I were really concerned about privacy and confidentiality, I wouldn't have started a blog! This one aims to be useful, in particular, to people who are new(ish) to the ARC process. Ultimately, I am happy for people outside my department, and outside my university, to read and to reflect on this process. And again, my main concern would be to strengthen the applications, nationally, for literary and cultural studies, rather than simply my own department's success rate. What do people think?

The other issue of interest to this blog is the relation between academic and general culture in Australia. On this topic, check out Fugitive Phenomenon's comment on the Patrick White scam (see link in side column, and wait patiently while I work out how to put links in the body of the post).

And in this general spirit of openness, a few comments on Liz's outline...

The first point to make is on structure and scope. If this is an 'intercolonial' project, I'd be wondering about the scope and range of the colonies to be examined, and whether there wasn't some possibility of collaboration or linkage with people or institutions outside Australia. The colonialism-childhood nexus seems to me really original and powerful, and I bet there is heaps of powerful material; your task now is to decide about the relationship between Australian and other contexts, and the extent to which you privilege the local. I imagine there's enough material for a 3-4 year study of Australian stuff; making it truly comparative would be an enormous project, and one calling out for a collaborative team application.

More specifically, you don't mention literary fiction, as such? And I'd also be thinking about the limits of the historical period you're going to range over. Are you going to include current issues? And finally, I think you'll need to decide pretty soon about the role of the Piccaninny material in the much broader issues you raise. This is a very catching, captivating image which will help give the application a powerful identity, but how will you move into the bigger issues from the question of representation?

These are exactly the kind of big questions that make it such a good idea to get started now, rather than later in the process. Other readers may also want to post comments on Liz's proposal.

For people in Melbourne, don't forget the workshop at 1.00 this Wednesday, "How to… Write a Competitive Application and Enhance Your Track Record”, Commerce Theatre 2, Ground Floor, Economics and Commerce Building. I'll try and get there and post some responses on this blog.

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