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Saturday, 31 December 2005


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» Even More MLA Wrap-Up from the chutry experiment
Just a few quick links that empasize some of the other discussions taking place this year at MLA. First, Inside Higher Ed reports on the MLA panel on tenure evaluation and notes that some changes may be on the horizon... [Read More]

» On the Future of Academic Publishing, Peer Review, and Tenure Requirements from Planned Obsolescence
(Or, Remaking the Academy, One Electronic Text at a Time) crossposted from The Valve Inside Higher Ed reported a few days back on the work thus far done by an MLA task force on the evaluation of scholarship for tenure and promotion, and on the ... [Read More]


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Adam Kotsko

I've often wondered about this spontaneous feeling of solidarity among bloggers -- it's not necessarily limited to academic bloggers, and certainly not to the MLA (though you guys have better representation than, say, the American Academy of Religion, which thankfully no one in the outside world cares about at all). After all, at the end of the day, we are united by the fact that we use similar kinds of software to update our web pages relatively frequently. I think you hit on a lot of the important reasons here.

Blog people often feel like they're "in my space" a lot more often than any real people are -- half the time, my roommate and I mainly talk about the blogs we read, as though we're primarily blog friends who also happen to live together. I could multiply examples here.


We're reading a blog usually in comfort and privacy (more or less), so Pavlov-wise it's no surprise that meeting a blogger should be accompanied by a feeling of ease.


Wait, I forget what the dynamic was that I was referring to... ? Anyway, it's all yours, at this point. (Unless you've already covered it in subsequent posts!)


I think it's true that bloggers often have a certain "spontaneous feeling of solidarity" (good phrase, Adam Kotsko), whether or not in academia. (I'm not in academia, so I only see it in other fields.)

But I also think it's true that a similar feeling can come from membership in various other kinds of groups or subcultures. For example, in the science fiction world, writers who've attended one of the Clarion workshops are often seen as cliquish -- at parties, they tend to "do the Clarion thing, hanging out in the kitchen together" (as one annoyed non-Clarion person once put it). But in my experience, it has less to do with cliquishness and more to do with a sense of relief to be talking with someone who, in however small a way, shares your cultural background and experience.

And this is often with people who've never even heard of each other before -- as soon as one of them says "I went to Clarion" and the other says "me too," suddenly they become more at ease with each other. They get some free easy topics of conversation ("What year? Which Clarion? Who were the teachers your year?") and a sense of connection.

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