Rebecca Schuman and Sarah Bond: Question Time

The Next Gen PhD planning committee met this week to prepare questions for our upcoming Blog Symposium, at which our expert guest panelists, Rebecca Schuman and Sarah Bond, will talk about writing for a variety of audiences.

Rebecca Schuman

Dr. Schuman, who received her PhD in German from the University of California-Irvine, has written for for Slate, Chronicle of Higher Education, and The Awl. She is the author of Kafka and Wittgenstein: The Case for an Analytic Modernism (Northwestern University Press) and Schadenfreude, A Love Story (Flatiron Books), in which she vividly chronicles her engagement with the German language, her pursuit of the PhD, and her dispiriting academic job search. Schuman left academia in 2013 to become a freelance writer; she casts a critical gaze on PhD training in “Thesis Hatement” and “The Academic Book as Expensive Nihilistic Hobby,” among other writings. Her Twitter handle is @pankisseskafka.

Dr. Bond, who received her PhD in History from the University of North Carolina, writes on late Roman history, epigraphy, late antique law, Roman topography and the socio-legal experience of ancient marginal peoples. She has published Trade and Taboo: Disreputable Professions in the Roman Mediterranean (University of Michigan Press). She writes the History from Below blog and a column for Forbes. She has published pieces as varied as “Unlocking the Dark Ages: A Short History of Chastity Belts” and “Torture Has Never Been an Effective Means of Information Gathering–Just Ask the Romans.” Her Hwitter handle is @sarahebond.

Here are some of the questions we’ll be asking Rebecca and Sarah at our Thursday (March 2, 3:30-5:00, BCSB 101) symposium:

1) Could you tell us about differences in your writing process as you write for different audiences, or about how your prose style changes as you write for different audiences?

2) At what point in your graduate career (or after) did you first think about blogging?

3) What opportunities has your blogging afforded you?

4) How has your blogging influenced your more traditional scholarly writing? How has your traditional scholarly work influenced your blogging?

5)  How have you built an audience for your work? Do you deliberately court controversy?

6) How did you break into being a columnist for a national journal?

7) Would it be fair to suggest that blogs are emotive, while academic writing is emotionally withholding?  In what other ways would you contrast the difference between the blog and the scholarly article?

8) How do you choose to engage with (or cordone off) comment writers?

9) What is the relationship between your blog or column writing and your other social media engagement?

10) How/why do certain of your posts or columns break out or become viral?

11) If you could redo your graduate education, what would you change? What changes to grad training might be suggested by your experiences?

1 thought on “Rebecca Schuman and Sarah Bond: Question Time”

  1. thanks once again for bringing in interesting outside perspectives, one can certainly think of wit, personality, point of view, passion/caring, etc in terms of marketing and networking but I can’t help wonder how it is that the formal work of laborers in the humanities is to be intentionally impersonal, affectless, humorless, etc, as one finds in scientific and engineering reports, leaving folks to turn to extra-curricular activities like blogging to access formats/settings/audiences that may be a closer fit of form and content?
    Perhaps a Next Gen Phd (and not just a PhD 2.0 cyborg entrepreneur) would be experiments to see if perhaps the form could serve the content (as well as the author and the public) and vice-versa?

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