A Change of Direction: Blogging for PopMatters
Starting today, I will be putting most of my blogging energy into blogging for the cultural studies / review website PopMatters. This site will still be active; I’ll put signposts up here to what I write over there, and I’ll sometimes cross-post. I’ll also write occasional book posts for the Valve, with cross-posts here.
It is exhilarating to consider what this new project will bring. PopMatters is vastly bigger than this site (or the Valve, for that matter) could ever be, and it will enable me to write kinds of criticism that I’ve neglected for a while in order to reflect on the academic situation and fads in philosophy (or “theory”).
Criticism is alive and well; there is a burgeoning market for it, and it has been greatly bolstered by the blogging revolution, which is a source of publicity for any smart piece of analysis strong enough to spread virally. The humanities, on the other hand, are in tatters. Part of the reason for my new focus is that I don’t think there’s much value in continuing to write about teaching in the university until the situation generally improves, and I see even less value in trying to breathe life into theoretical discussions (led by people like Slavoj Zizek) that have mostly served to alienate the public, particularly since the ideas fueling these debates are not genuinely original breakthroughs.
I am also uncomfortable with the role that academic blogging seems to have assumed. As far as I can tell, academic blogging does far too much to turn the horrible realities of the job market into an amusing, academic version of Alice in Wonderland: Oh, dear me! Wherever shall I end up next? Academics unwittingly portray themselves (with the generous help of commenters) as eccentrics who are bound to suffer, rather than as knowledge workers who are being exploited. Another way of putting this might be that Marc Bousquet’s How The University Works is probably the only academic blog (mine included) that should earn our admiration rather than our contempt — and it’s already a book.
Furthermore, given the current situation, the democratic ideas behind academic blogging (of bringing conversations usually restricted to campuses to the wide world of the Internet) has perhaps only helped prop up the other, worser idea that what we in the humanities do ought to be done for free, since it’s just book hobbyism if it isn’t serious, bare-bones instruction in writing.
I like the medium of InsideHigherEd, and I may write for them again, with pointers here leading there. But until then, let’s talk about pop, and what really matters.