Lecturer, researcher and prolific tweeter; University of Nottingham’s very own Jem Bloomfield chats to us about the art of blogging, feminism and his Twitter followers!
When and what made you start a blog?
I can tell you exactly when and who. It was about three years ago at the behest of several of my friends, specifically Sophie Duncan. There was a certain amount of ‘don’t tell it to me tell it to the internet, Bloomfield’. We’d been throwing around ideas about all sorts of stuff: Shakespeareanism and literature and all that sort of thing. She herself had a blog and she told me rather than ranting to stick it in a blog. It’s a really good opportunity to explore ideas in a slightly less formal context. It’s different to academic writing because adding footnotes at the end creates a certain finality to the work, whereas I could write a blog about a developing idea and even ask for peoples’ input on the matter.
You’re quite the celebrity on Twitter; how did you get so many followers?
That I don’t know. I suspect a habit of tweeting as a form of procrastination. Twitter really is a lovely place to share ideas. I’ve been very lucky to sort of bump into people online who I never would have spoken to otherwise. I suppose it sort of spiralled from there. I don’t think I have a large following, I have a following that knows a lot more than I do about a lot of things.
What are the aims of your blog?
Well as I was saying before to explore ideas in a slightly less formal context and to test ideas, to ask for other people’s input on them. I write, as I think most writers do, out of a sense of personal obsession. I don’t sit down and think ‘right, for the next two weeks I should cover these topics’. It’s just things that have sort of been getting in your head, things that you’ve been having ideas about. So it tends to map across things that I am concerned with such as theatre, literature and Christianity, and feminism.
And, what is your definition of feminism?
My definition of feminism is that it is absolutely not for a man to define. Obviously, there are very different philosophical traditions in feminism. There are serious and long-lasting disagreements about the end point: the aim or the purpose of feminism. This also creates very serious disagreements of opinion about the basis of feminism, particularly for a movement of social change and social justice. Where you say you want to end up is also about defining who you are and who is the movement and what the movement’s aims should be. But I am afraid I stand on the side that it is a movement for the liberation of women and for men to support when needed, but not define.
So, what’s it like balancing your work, blog, research and writing?
Relatively easy. This is a very supportive department. People are supportive of the fact that obviously we all have a lot of work to do. And with that there is the understanding that sometimes your work life and your life-life will blur into each other. I don’t find that too difficult at the moment, because a lot of the stuff I want to do outside of work can inform my research and my teaching. It’s the sort of work that you couldn’t do if you regarded it as just a day job.
Do you ever get a lot of controversy surrounding your blog posts?
I have had in the past, yes. I had what would technically be described as a threat of violence although it wasn’t sent to me and it was from someone on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. It wasn’t something they could follow through with. But you will find people talking trash about you, you will find people calling all aspects of your moral character into question. In fact I’ve written about it on the blog. Informed discussion is a wonderful thing, but sometimes you do just get bile from people. But this is not generally a problem for male bloggers. I get some abuse and insults but if you write about feminism as a female blogger it’s an entirely different story. It’s a much safer topic for men, so while I do get the controversy I don’t get this sort of concentrated violence that women experience. On a structural level I would say it’s a regulating mechanism, a way of discouraging women from talking about these issues. While supporting feminism may be a rational decision it’s just not worth the hassle, and thus another wave of women’s voices are silenced.
Finally, do you have any tips for aspiring bloggers or writers?
Right, wow. I’m slightly taken aback because I don’t do it particularly well. I’m not sure what wisdom I can offer. I mean the first and sort of trivial point is start it. Give it a go. There is no start-up cost. Write about things that interest you so write about the conversations that you would be having with your friends. Don’t try to write about stuff that means you have to steal stuff or do lots of research. Certainly don’t think that every post has to be perfect or polished.
Edited by Helena Kelly
You can find Jem’s blog, quiteirregular, here – https://quiteirregular.wordpress.com/
Follow Jem on Twitter - @jembloomfield