I don’t quite reveal it all, but I’ve been invited to write recently for peer reviewed journals about the non-peer reviewed world-wide time-wasting blogosphere and my playground here, Historiann! I know, friends: Whodathunkit? And who really cares?
First of all, readers will find an answer to this question at least if they click on over to Common-place to read my contribution to this month’s “Common Reading” feature, which I’ve called “Silence Dogood Rides Again: Blogging the Frontiers of Early American History,” an essay on the long tradition of pseudonymity in early American history, pseudonymity on the world-wide non-peer reviewed internets, and my ambitions to join the local Roller Derby team. (For realz! I’ve got a great idea for a Roller Derby name, anyway, and that’s a good place to start. You’ll have to click on over to Common-place if you want to find it out!)
Here’s some flava:
My main interest in my blog is now the larger community of readers and commenters who connect me to a wider intellectual world and whom otherwise I’d never meet, work with, or encounter through any of the traditional networking strategies in academia. Forget what you’ve heard about supposedly cool Colorado college towns and so-called “liberal” academia—it’s lonelyout here for a Marxist feminist early Americanist who writes eastern history. My (lightly) pseudonymous identity as a cowgirl probably plays a large part of my success in bringing folks together on the blog. I don’t want to burst your bubble, amigas, but Historiann is a lot more fun than I am—she doesn’t have any family or work responsibilities outside of writing about whatever she wants to write about, and acting as a welcoming host for guests who want to join online conversations about history, the academic workplace, feminism, contemporary politics, and the interesting intersections I find therein. Who knew that there would be 2,000-3,000 people a day interested in reading about my idiosyncratic and not necessarily interconnected interests? My playful pseudonymous identity helps pull it all together. (And, I think a lot of you eastern “Dudes” are pretty easy marks!)
And in case you haven’t been reading Tenured Radical or Roxie’s World lately, then you may not know that I was also a contributor to the Journal of Women’s History’s roundtable in the current issue on “Women Gone Wild: Reflections on the Feminist Blogosphere,” which was edited by La Radical and also features a contribution from our favorite dead dog blogger called “The Madwoman with a Laptop: Notes Toward a Literary Prehistory of Academic Fem Blogging.” My article is “We’re All Cowgirls Now,” and I offer some reflections on my first few years of blogging, including the world-famous tool controversy and the breastfeeding and “breeder” food-fights of 2009. Ah, memories! (To read this roundtable online, you must either have a subscription to the JWH or have access to a library that subscribes to Project Muse.) Again, some flava, in which I discuss Gil Elvgren’s adorable cowgirl pinups that occasionally decorate my blog:
The skirts that Elvgren’s cowgirls wear are frequently in disarray—caught on a fence splinter, swirled up around their waists after a tumble, or hitched up to accommodate a holster so that the cowgirls’ legs are usually very exposed. One of my earliest (and most depressing) realizations in blogging was that, like those cowgirls whose skirts are always tripping them up, women who write in cyberspace are exposed in ways that people who present online as men are not. Whether we write under our own names, whether we are truly anonymous or entirely pseudonymous (like Notorious Ph.D., Girl Scholar; Squadratomagico, or Another Damned Medievalist at Blogenspiel), or whether we’re only lightly and playfully pseudonymous (like Tenured Radical, Roxie at Roxie’s World, and Historiann)—we still have to play by the same “girl rules” that we’re subjected to in the meat world.
You know the rules I’m talking about: don’t take up too much space (physically or rhetorically), don’t say anything not-nice, and don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re an authority on anything. Those of you who have made the mistake of clicking on the comments responding to most articles in newspapers or online magazines will recognize these “rules” immediately in the misogyny that gets thrown at women writers, especially those who write on feminist, women’s or gender issues, by people who present online as women and men alike. By choosing a pseudonym but stating clearly on my homepage my real life identity, I thought that my academic credentials and position would at least inoculate me against the last “girl rule,” that I should never presume to be an authority on anything.
(Footnotes omitted in this excerpt.) I should say that the connection between Elvgren’s exposed cowgirls and the exposure of the blogosphere was Tenured Radical’s original insight as the roundtable’s editor, not mine, so there’s an example of the value of collaboration and peer review, friends! Also, this article grew out of a conversation I had with Another Damned Medievalist in the summer of 2009 over beers in Fort Collins, Colorado and is indebted to some of her insights about building academic communities and finding a professional voice through blogging, so there’s proof that bloggers occasionally get out of our jammies and showered to meet up in real life like regular folks. Thanks again, ADM, and let me know if you’re blowing through town again this June!
And, if some of you down Texas way are interested, Historiann-the-person is supposed to be giving a talk the first Thursday in March at the University of Texas in Austin to the History Department’s Gender Symposium about Historiann-the-blog. I’ll post the details once I get them. I’m looking forward to the trip–I’ve never visited Texas as an adult, and I think my childhood excursion was limited to a quick drive across the panhandle, so it should be a pip.
Thanks again to all of my readers and commenters who have (usually!) made this so much fun for me over the past three years. I think Tenured Radical and ADM are cooking up a blogger meet-up at the Berks this summer, if you’re curious to see what some of us actually look like and find out if I wear cowgirl boots with my jammies. I’ll be there for sure–stay tuned here for details as we make them up. Yee-haw!