Wednesday, January 6, 2010


I don't really do new year's resolutions, but there are a few things I think I'd like to do with this blog. This blog has always been a little meandering, sometimes about teaching, often about idle thoughts in my areas of non-expertise (which are numerous). I feel that teaching warrants a lot of public musing, in no small part because I know I have readers who will give me valuable feedback and, when I'm lucky, actual gorgeous writing handouts of their own devising. I've also been teaching using blogs for a few years now, and the process of blogging is to me intimately connected with my work as a teacher; both are forms of publication in a very democratic way.*

But there's something very safe about talking about teaching and topics on which I do not claim to be an expert (or on topics that are a "secondary" specialty, like children's lit). It is a greater challenge to talk about one's specialty to nonspecialists, in part because you have to get outside your own thinking habits and remember others' habits, but also because one's own research is dear, and tender, and (one believes) wants sheltering, as Kathleen Fitzpatrick has pointed out. But I believe that the future of the profession lies in letting ideas circulate as much as possible, and in supporting a spirit of inquiry in the public sphere. Let me then publish where I may.

So these are the intentions:

1. To blog more frequently about my own tender babies, my research in progress;

2. To review more books. I'm an enormous fan of NBOL-19, the goal of which is to review books within a year of their publication. Imagine! I think it's an admirable goal, and would in general like to see the profession move toward timely feedback on scholarly work. Last year I believe I only reviewed one book, Kathleen Woodward's Statistical Panic, and while part of me has visions of reviewing, say, a book a month, I am in fact acquainted with reality. I will be happy, then, if I review two books this year, though I hope I will do more. And perhaps, too, I will write mini-reviews, even one-line reviews. Which brings me to another notion:

3. To review articles from time to time, however briefly. I do have the Zotero feed, of course, but I read more articles than full monographs, and some of them are just awesome. Why not say why?

These are not resolutions but ideas. I have a habit that I believe to be healthy, namely ignoring the blog when things get hectic. So that's that. But ask me, sometime, about lol-articles...

*I say that blogging and teaching are "democratic" in the full knowledge that not everyone has access to the internet and even fewer people have access to the University of California. But then, not everybody is able to vote, either. Democracy is always partial; we can but move in a democratic direction. What I mean, in this case, is that scholarship occurs by way of both specialized and nonspecialized conversations (alternatively, specialized and nonspecialized forms of public-ation). Teaching and blogging are both part of the nonspecialized conversation.

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