Blog post number 8. This is it, final one. I’ve watched a couple of the presentations but will save my comments for our meeting next Tuesday. For now, since this is my last post, I’ll provide a few reflections on blog-writing itself. I thought it was a great way of providing us with a public platform for exploring topics we found interesting, expressing ideas, and practising the formulation of written arguments in an informal setting. The emphasis on regularity rather than quality took some pressure off my shoulders, allowing me to write more freely, in a manner less restrained by self-questioning. Interestingly, the informality didn’t necessarily draw away from the value of the thoughts and ideas that were expressed in this blog. OK, maybe they were a little less structured and analytically thorough, but there was a freshness to them born from the spontaneity of the exercise. I enjoyed this freshness in my writing, which is sometimes worn away by the liberties I (perhaps necessarily) deny myself in my academic writing.
I liked reading the posts of my peers, and wish I’d given myself more time to do so on a regular basis. As the weeks went by, I felt like people grew more willing to open themselves up in their posts, to give voice to their thoughts without fear of criticism. I found it interesting to discern patterns in the types of topics that different individuals chose to explore, which reflected their personal interests. Again, this semi-academic platform was a brilliant way to encourage us to engage with the various topics that interest us, and attempt to expand on them through the lens of transnational history. I’m aware, for example, that many of my posts ended up being related, in one way or another, to literature. The title of my first post, ‘Crossing disciplinary boundaries’, foregrounded what I have subsequently attempted, which has been to question the ways in which transnational themes appear in topics that I encountered in literature such as the fossil fuel industry and petro-cultures, Italo-American migrant experiences, or travel accounts of Eastern Europe. I didn’t set out to achieve this, but it’s where my writing led me.
I feel an unexpected nostalgia as I write these final lines. It’s probably the effect of the rain which I observe through my window as I marshal my thoughts. Or it could be an anticipatory nostalgia, imagining myself in 4th year gazing back in longing at this ripe 20, so painlessly achieved. It’s also the awareness that I’m contributing my last few words to this blog, which has been passed down, year after year, through generations of budding transnationalists, and will soon be inherited by a whole new cohort. They might scroll back through past posts, find this one, and laugh at its ridiculous sentimentality, unaware that a few months down the line they would be the ones trying to find the words for an adequate conclusion.