Image linked from BulletJournal.com blog.
In the previous sections of this project, I’ve discussed how Ryder Carroll frames bullet journals, my own use of bullet journals, and how I’ve seen bullet journals reflected in digital spaces. However, none of these necessarily reflect how bullet journals are being used by others, or what motivates their use.
Despite the strong online presence of bullet journals, I believe that the best way to learn more about how bullet journals serve their users is through a combination of ethnographic interviews and textual analysis. Peter Medway’s work on architecture students’ sketchbooks (2002) might offer a helpful model for exploring the practice of bullet journaling through both textual analysis and user interviews. Rosemary Sallee’s work (2016) might prove useful as well; considering the pop culture texts surrounding bullet journaling (Carroll’s book, online guides, social media posts, etc.) alongside interviews and artifact analyses could add useful breadth to the project. The combination of these three methods would, I think, be an ideal way to explore some of the themes I’ve already sketched out here, including how gender interacts with bullet journal use, bullet journaling’s relationship with crafting and DIY culture, aspirational labor, and how bullet journals interact with their users’ health.
Additionally, I’m curious about how bullet journaling works as a tool for the production of other texts. Based on what I’ve seen on Instagram, there is definitely a population of students using bullet journals as part of their academic practices. (I’ve certainly relied on my bullet journal as I’ve read and written my way through this semester; even now, as I draft this entry, I’m following a daily page-count schedule that I worked out and recorded in my bullet journal.) Also, there seem to be writers (both professional and amateur) who use bullet journals to plan out and record their progress on extended creative projects. (One interesting example is Jenn Lyons, a fantasy novelist.)
These users raise the question of whether bullet journaling could be taught as an organizational and reflective tool in writing classrooms. Composition instructors often ask students to keep journals or write reflection essays as they progress through the semester; perhaps bullet journals could be a way to combine these reflective texts with teaching academic competencies like time management and goal-setting. While bullet journaling might not be a fit for all (or even most) student writers, explicitly teaching such an organizational and reflective tool might also prompt students to develop personal tools that work better for them. Bullet journals could also serve as an interesting site to discuss the communicative possibilities of multimodality.
Whatever form my future research takes, I do think that bullet journals—and all such folk practices of inscription—deserve scholarly attention so we can better understand how their users understand and shape their labor and their lives.
Medway, P. (2002). "Fuzzy Genres and Community Identities: The Case of Architecture Students’ Sketchbooks." In R. Coe, L. Lingard, & T. Teslenko (Eds.), The Rhetoric and Ideology of Genre: Strategies for Stability and Change (pp. 123–153). Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, Inc.
Sallee, R. L. (2016). FEMMAGE AND THE DIY MOVEMENT: FEMINISM, CRAFTY WOMEN, AND THE POLITICS OF GENDER PERFORMANCE. Retrieved from