Tomorrow I (with my friend and colleague Scott) am running a workshop on using social media in academia. One of the platforms we’ll be discussing is blogging, which reminded me that it’s been a long time since I wrote anything here, so I am not setting the best example of good blogging practice.
It’s been a busy few months, which have included handing in my thesis, starting two new jobs, and relocating to Sussex. Accordingly, I’ve just updated my ‘About’ page:
This blog was created whilst I was working on my PhD as a means of reflecting upon some of the experiences along the way, as well as various other projects and interests. It’s not a research blog, nor a guide to how to survive a PhD; primarily it’s somewhere for me to write up miscellaneous musings but which is open to anyone who wishes to read these thoughts.
My thesis, undertaken at the University of Manchester, was on the figure of Christ in the visual works of the poet-painter-prophet William Blake (1757-1827). The title of the blog is taken from Blake’s words about Manchester in his epic poem Jerusalem; the city is “…in tortures of Doubt & Despair” (Jerusalem, Plate 21). I suppose it evoked for him “dark Satanic mills,” but contrary to local legend, there’s no evidence to suggest he ever got much further north than Hampstead Heath. Whatever Manchester was like then, I wouldn’t describe it in such bleak terms today. However, Blake’s words about Manchester are an apt description of certain moments in the PhD experience; trying to understand Blake is a daunting and occasionally torturous experience, but there is excitement in the challenge and delight in the moments of insight.
I handed in my thesis in September 2015, and have since moved to work for the Diocese of Chichester, doing research related to art in churches in Sussex. Chichester is not far from Felpham, where Blake lived for three years, and although it’s where Blake was put on trial for sedition, he described it as “lovely mild & gentle” (Jerusalem, Plate 36) — first impressions suggest that these words ring more true than his damning assessment about Manchester.
So perhaps I need a new blog, with a new title, but between the new job and keeping thoughts about the PhD alive in preparation for the viva, I haven’t had chance to decide, so watch this space.
I will probably be starting a new blog associated with my role in Chichester, but notes on a postcard about the future of my personal blogging are welcome!