This is the final one of three posts about my favourite blogs, for all of which I have been lucky enough to write. Two of my former colleagues at The Open University – Emma-Jayne Graham and Jessica Hughes – created The Votives Project. Like the other blogs I’ve mentioned, Nursing Clio and The Recipes Project, this is a collective project, and much of its value comes from the range of voices it attracts and the conversations that it stimulates between academic disciplines.
Articles about why academics should blog, such as this excellent one by Pat Thomson, list a number of different reasons: it helps you write concisely, lets you try out different ways of writing, establishes that you are working on a topic, enables you to try out an idea, and helps you to start thinking through a research question. The motivation behind my own Votives Project piece, ‘When is a womb not a womb?’, was a combination of several of those, and more: one day I may get around to putting together an article on the ideas in it, but maybe I won’t, and this way the basic point is ‘out there’. As I wrote in that piece, in a 2012 blog post Kristina Killgrove had rightly noted the circular reasoning which scholars use in identifying votive objects as specific internal organs. She in turn had launched her piece on the basis of a blog post from the Wellcome Collection on ‘Object of the month’ (coincidentally, by a former student of mine, Catherine Walker), which raised the key issues of how ancient texts and objects may – or may not – illuminate each other, and of how the richness of the Hippocratic corpus skews our view of what ‘ancient medicine’ was all about.
Here, then, there’s a thread of three blog posts, each of which builds on its predecessor. Even if I never get round to writing that closely-argued, fully-referenced, academic article on how the objects we label ‘wombs’ have been identified in the past and how I now think they should best be understood, the questions are out there and others can (and already do) refer to them. I think that counts as success!