Friday, 19 May 2006

Another MLA Panel You Dread Attending [Some of you may be looking the meme post...] So that MLA panel I mentioned proposing a few months back was, miraculously, accepted. I don't know how the it slipped past The Man whose boot's been firmly planted on my neck the past three years, but I suspect it had something to do with the other panelists. (Cue Technotronic) Are you ready for this? Meet the Bloggers: Blogging and the Future of Academia Organizer – Scott Eric Kaufman In his June 6, 2003 Chronicle of Higher Education article on academic blogging, David Glenn waxed skeptical about its future, noting that many "academic bloggers worry that the medium smells faddish, ephemeral." Two years later, The Chronicle established a special section of "Careers" devoted to "Links to Academic Blogs." What happened in the intervening months was nothing short of an explosion in the number, the quality and public attention brought to bear on academic blogs. The 2005 MLA convention featured four panels which addressed this phenomenon. Each treated blogging as a stable genre with the potential to evolve into a professional or pedagogical asset, but they could only speculate as to what prominent bloggers would do. This proposed panel differs from those in that it will feature four of the most prominent academic bloggers discussing a future they possess the power and influence to shape. The bloggers in question, followed by their rank in "The Truth Laid Bear" ecosystem of all (not merely academic) blogs are: John Holbo (#36), [Bitch Ph.D.] (#148), Michael Bérubé (#198), and Scott Eric Kaufman (#1502). Michael Bérubé's "Instantaneous Citation Index" moves beyond current conversations about "online scholarly communities" to address the mechanisms of citation and influence-tracking among academic bloggers. His paper argues that insofar as services like Technorati and Google allow blogging scholars to determine the issues commanding the attention of their peers with increasing speed and accuracy, they constitute a new kind of apparatus for the charting the dissemination of ideas, an apparatus that is supplemental–in both senses–to "professional" devices of measurement such as the Arts and Humanities Citation Index. [Bitch Ph.D.]'s "I'm Nobody! Who are You?" turns to the question of pseudonymous blogging and its place in the community Bérubé describes. Beginning with the oft-noted parallels between pseudonymous blogging, which has become a staple among academic blogs, and the tradition of the eighteenth-century periodical essay, in which pseudonymity was a generic convention, her paper discusses the possibilities of voice in blogging and the ways that pseudonymity, particularly among junior faculty, graduate students, and women, allows us to speak about "private" matters in a "public" forum. In the realm of print culture, blogging puts pressure on the relationship between the author function and the question of textual ownership. In academia, it raises the question of what the role of casual writing is with relationship to "publication" (or "service," or "teaching"). More importantly, however, this question–like that of textual ownership–presents an implicit challenge to a profession that, on the one hand, practices blind review and, on the...
Theory vs. Continental Philosophy: BLOGFIGHT! This is an updated version—in the sense that I've elaborated some points and abridged others—of an email I wrote yesterday. Writing it clarified some issues for me and my interlocutor, so I thought I'd post another version up here tonight. I've decided to elide the names of those persons who don't have a significant web-presence, since I don't have their permission to write about their lives and work. There's something about modernist literature which lends itself to and/or is consonant with continental philosophy. Joyce, Proust, Woolf, &c. attract people who study Lacan, Deleuze, Derrida, &c. The attraction is some combination of the characteristics of the text and the characteristics of the minds attracted to such texts, but whatever the explanation, the effect is palpable. There's certainly a relationship between continental philosophy and European modernism, as evidenced by the fact that almost everyone who works on the latter does so through the former. I'm being careful here to specify "continental philosophy" instead of Theory, since it's "continental philosophy" and not Theory which interests literary modernists. The reason? Modernism starts, depending on who you ask, with the European-inflected thought of William James on Gertrude Stein; or with Bergson's influence on Woolf and Joyce; or with any number of French intellectuals on Joyce, Beckett, and Pound; &c. There's a kind of historicist heart to the modernist's embrace of continental philosophy, since it's often essential to understanding the formal properties of the works being studied or the works which have influenced them. So, as an undergraduate I studied with M.P., a Joycean who split time between Santa Cruz and Paris in the '70s. He attended Lacan's seminars, worked with Derrida, and wrote a dissertation on Joyce under the direction of Fredric Jameson and Hayden White. (In graduate school, he, T.B.—now a notorious historicist—and M.B.W.—now just notorious—were close friends.) M.P. fancied himself a continental philosopher of sorts, but when he hit the market, he was considered a "theorist" because he was a continental philosopher of sorts who worked in an English department. My graduate school agenda, hatched with M.P. during many a long office hour, was to continue to massage my philosophically-inclined Joycean interests by coming to Irvine, where I could work with Derrida (who got a backchannel letter from M.P. vouching for me, a copy of which was sent to N.M., a prominent Wake scholar. To round out my undergraduate education, I sought out a guy in the French department named John Protevi. (You may know him as a frequent commenter on Michael's blog.) He's the editor of the Yale University Press's Dictionary of Continental Philosophy, and his personal interests are in Foucault and all things Deleuzoguattarian. He and I clicked, so I started reading Foucault and many things Deleuzoguattarian, learning about the conflicts internal to the continental tradition. So my graduate project, such that it was, entailed me coming to Irvine and continuing this course of study. When I got here, however, I discovered what I still take to be the central difference...

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