Tuesday, September 1, 2009

"On the Vague Reading of a Truant Youth"

I am disinclined to mark anniversaries or transitions on this blog: no "I can't believe this is my hundredth post already!" or "Has it been a year and a half?" It's not that I think blogging should be impersonal, just that I prefer to think of blogging as a temporally smooth exercise, one that doesn't require the punctuations of milestones.

Having just checked the archives of this blog, I notice that in a few days I actually will be marking the 2 1/2-year point. I started it in the spring of my senior year of college, with the idea that it could act as a bridge of sorts between the end of my undergraduate education and the (presumptuously presumptive) beginning of my graduate career. Tomorrow is the official end of that interregnum; my first class is at 9:20.

I cannot say for sure, obviously, how course-work (and later studying for orals and the dissertation) will change this blog: it is my intention still to be a fairly active blogger—at least as active as I have been this year (although August was a rough month as you probably noticed)—but aside from that, I cannot forecast much. It is my intention to do a lot of experimenting with different ideas of how I can improve my blogging by means of the resources now available to me (JSTOR, didja miss me?). Part of that experimenting may go on at The Valve, and part at Conversational Reading; I'll usually cross-post the former and link the latter.

I envision this blog continuing to function foremost as a lit-blog, a place to discuss books and reading culture. The lit-blog community is an astonishingly vibrant network of intelligent, passionate, and articulate bloggers and commenters, and a significant goal I have for the next couple of years at least is figuring out how I can add value to that community from the position I'll be occupying. The relationship between journalism and academia is not always a pleasant one (I noticed, for instance, Lev Grossman's puffed-up trumpeting of his grad school dropout status in his biography: I don't know who that was supposed to impress) but I feel that such antipathy does far more harm than good to all involved, and it is not something that I feel needs to characterize the relationship between lit-blogging and the academy as well.

Because I'll be experimenting with different strategies of how to incorporate my academic pursuits and practices into this blog, I'd ask that you tell me what's working and what fizzles: what's boring or unhelpful, and what actually makes the material I'm talking about richer. I mean, most of my "experiments" probably aren't going to be marked as such: there's not going to be huge flashing signs that say "WARNING: ACADEMIC CONTENT APPROACHING." Part of the point is that there is a lot of stuff that academics have produced or are producing that is definitely not alien to the ways we tend to talk about books anyway. And, I think, there are some exciting new projects within the academic study of literature that might arguably appeal as much or more to a non-academic audience. And hopefully you've noticed that I've tried to do this to some extent already.

I'm excited to see what comes out of this: I feel that lit-blogging is still developing in many ways, always learning how to pull in more readers, more texts, and more ideas. We'll see where it goes.


zunguzungu said...

Welcome (back) to the ivory tower! You'll find your corduroy jacket with elbow patches, pipe, and secret decoder ring by the door.

Andrew Seal said...

Is it a bubble pipe?!