Back in the Blog

The extended blogging hiatus below was sponsored by: an article deadline, a conference presentation, a visiting speaker, the letter W (for “what was I thinking?!!), and the number 4 (the average number of hours of sleep I got over the past two weeks).

For the past few weeks, with all of this activity, my constant refrain has been the one I borrowed from Jarhead: “Welcome to the suck.” And suck it did; too much to do, too little time to do it. Produce very polished writing and synthesize complicated arguments from research in film studies, composition pedagogy, and new media theory, and do it fast. Meanwhile, come up with a smart but conversational ditty on the translation of blogosphere protocols into the classroom, and then go and see what other people in comp/rhet are saying about the digital world. Finally, organize a set of activities to entertain your visitor, and strike the perfect note between professional and friendly. In short, the goals of the term boiled down to this: think smart; write well; talk pretty; socialize comfortably. Or, as I kept telling myself: don’t be an ass.

I’m not sure that I succeeded on that final front, but now that I’ve caught up on some sleep, I realize why it’s worth running the academic gauntlet. I’ve got so many new ideas running around in my head right now, I can’t wait to peruse them at my leisure. Here are my top three: how would we characterize the aesthetics of YouTube, and what are the pedagogical implications of this? If the retrieval of information is shifting radically (from hierarchical to folksonomy), what are the author’s new responsibilities for positioning his/her work? In what ways is convergence culture restructuring the boundaries of taste as a means of filtering information?

Not that I can address any of these right now, but they’re certainly the highlights of getting through some of my own research, seeing a great panel at the CCCC, and reading excerpts from Jim Collins’ new book. Hooray for new and exciting ideas!

And now, back to grading…

2 thoughts on “Back in the Blog

  1. don’t be an ass

    D’oh! I knew there was one rule I forgot!

    I was reminded again about how successful we have been in indoctrinating our students when several of the students in the film class worried about the lack of scholarly sources for the films they were working on. I had to reassure them that there was a place in our discourse for film reviews and even fan sites for actors. I realised that I had taken for granted that all information was relevant, that the *way* it was used was the key issue.

    Now I know that there’s a huge gap between the students who don’t know why one might object to oh, let’s say, Wikipedia and the students who fear using “unauthorized” sources.

    Now that more scholars are dipping into pop culture, it seems to odd to recognize that things I have taken for granted for years (i.e. popular culture artifacts are interesting and full of information about our culture) are still approached with trepidation by others new to the field.

    Then again, as a medievalist who does pop culture research, I have just become used to none of my colleagues being the least bit interested in anything I do, so it’s a bit jarring to find that there might be some who do.

  2. I’ve been thinking about the question of pop culture in academe as well, Kate, in the wake of Collins’ lecture last week. It’s odd: sometimes, I find myself creating all of these arguments about why we need to examine it carefully, and people look at me with the “duh, we totally know that” face. And then, just when I think it’s safe to take that for granted, I get asked the “by why does this really matter?” question.

    What I’m realizing, with reference to your students’ questions about sources, is that we very seldom introduce them to what I suppose I’d call a cultural studies methodology; ie., how would we begin to assess “non-academic sources” as textual evidence of a phenomenon, but also use them as secondary sources where appropriate? I find that the stuff I like to read most often makes these breezy connections between theory and the popular, but I seldom teach students how to make those connections.

    Somewhere in me, there’s a segment for the lit theory class on cultural studies…

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