Well, after a much too long hiatus, I am officially breaking my blogging-fast. As you can see, I started the new year off with a bit of a blog facelift. The old theme was just too elegant. It made me feel as if every post had to be as equally momentous and graceful as my title photo – Da Vinci’s “Study for the Adoration of the Magi.” And that’s just too much pressure.
But it does bring me to a question that I will probably be musing about a lot in the coming months (since it’s partly the question at the heart of my independent study this semester) – how do academics perform themselves and their work using digital platforms, and what are the implications of these public performances? It was an interesting moment when, at the very end of last year, I realized that I wasn’t blogging because my blog’s theme made me feel that every post was inadequate. So why did I pick that theme in the first place? What public impression was I hoping to produce and how did the theme reflect an attempt to perform myself and my work in a certain way? Let’s be clear, it’s not that this new theme has all of a sudden made me feel completely unrestrained and comfortable with blogging. But it somehow seems not nearly as demanding and, therefore, I’m optimistic about an increasingly comfortable blogging experience.
I’m following some new academic blogs starting this year, along with all of my old ones, and my hope is to document observations and questions about the various performances of these digital spaces. I won’t list them all here, but I will reference them as I go along so you have a chance to review my evidence for yourself and, probably, come up with other interpretations. I want to think about how the digital platforms themselves, like my old blog theme, affect the writer’s performance, as well as the ways in which platform choices affect a reader’s perception of the writer and his or her work. I also want to think about the content choices and the reasons for writing. The reception of these blogs in more traditional academic publishing spheres and the work these blogs are doing to market academics in a new way (whether the digital work has an effect on promotion and tenure or not). I know some of these are old questions (well, old in the timeframe of humanities conversation, which seems to be a legitimate categorization after only four years or so), but I want to think about them anyway and use a performance theory slant to, perhaps, come up with some new and interesting answers.
Thanks for reading and happy 2013!