“If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.”
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I've been struggling with my own approaches to reading lately. I've become lazy, in short, and I'm not keeping track of what I read (see the reading log to the right) and what's important about it in a clear way that makes things easy to return to. I've been contemplating switching the reading log into wordpress, or also making a [company's] form for myself so that I go and get a prompt/tailor-made fields to fill in when I finish a book--to remember to cling to the important parts of what I'm reading. I got a helpful list of things to track from a colleague and I think I might try their approach to each item read for a while to see how that feels: capturing the bibliographic information, key terms, a precis, reflection, and quotes. All the times I have done exercises like this in the past while reading my brain clung to the importance of the content in a much better way than the fly-by-night methods I've been using lately.
We just moved, and I am now sitting in a room that is named and dedicated to my projects, whatever they may be. Having this room is a pretty big life-changer, and I've been thinking a lot about schedules and plans and what can and should get accomplished. I've also been thinking about how much of what Terry Gross said about her daily life resonated with me, and I'm considering how great some parts of her routine sound. I'd like to borrow how she and her husband make breakfast every Saturday at home and while cooking/eating listen to a full record. mjg and I just officially integrated all of our records and committed to an alphabetical by creator/group organization*, which feels like a much bigger commitment than getting legally or financially aligned. Although I guess the record mixing is some form of binding, a certain form of realness and acceptance of one another. Now that all of my $1 semi-ironic garage sale finds and soundtracks are pressed up against my mjg's new-car smelling, plastic-encased music, I'm thinking of starting to listen each week and just going through alphabetically. Putting a marker in to remind us where we left off, like a real organized library might do. Also mjg assures me that most of the harshest stuff he listens to isn't on vinyl.** So I feel like we/I could really do it.
All of these thoughts and plans and schedules might also be springing up now because all of the parts of stereos that we have are still packed. Self-contained things that make noise like computers are not loud enough to hear well over the sounds of our neighborhood. It's strange not to hear music or voices on air. We used to have a radio in every room of the house.
*with some exceptions for artists whose work is not their name/projects and fluctuate.
**I'm not talking just about noise here but mostly things that are too dark to listen to in the morning.
I didn't get anywhere close to meeting my reading goal in 2014. I set it at 65 books, and I read 38. I had a lot of significant life things that took up a lot of my extra time in the Spring and Summer this year, but really, I should have read more!
Here are the books I read in 2014, in reverse chronological order of when I read them, with those that I especially enjoyed starred:
It's an understatement that I haven't been keeping up here. My last post has been haunting me all year as it ages, and as I haven't been keeping up with my reading at the level I had been in other years. I've instead been writing more and my days have been extremely full at work. This summer was full of milestones and reflections that have little to do with the topics normally discussed here!
My latest goals that do involve this site are to keep better track of what I read. Not merely to read something but to summarize and reflect upon it for myself as I do read--much like professors have asked me to do for classes while I was in school the past few years. When I started my reading log, that was a goal, but I often become too shy to post these notes online. Whether they make it here or not, I'm determined to get into some good practices and to make this space a bit more of a commonplace book than it has been lately.
I also think this site needs an aesthetic overhaul, but the many tweaks that I have applied to customize its theme leaves me reticent to tackle any kind of transfer or upgrade. So for now I'll try to struggle onward, or watch this latest re-commitment fail to take hold and move on to other things!
I'm finishing up my thesis as my last project for 2013 and the very first of 2014. I'm not sure how that has affected my reading list, but here are the books I read in 2013, in reverse chronological order, with those that I especially enjoyed starred:
I was recently interviewed on KPFA (Pacifica) Radio's program Against the Grain. C.S. and I mostly discussed topics surrounding the chapter I wrote, "Meta-Radicalism: The Alternative Press by and for Activist Librarians" for the book Libraries and the Reading Public in Twentieth-Century America, Edited by Christine Pawley and Louise S. Robbins. I'm hoping that I represented the issues involved well, but I'm always challenged by interviews--there are so many ways to represent ideas in conversation(s).
The interview will be broadcast Tuesday November 5 at noon Pacific Time if you'd like to listen.
Against the Grain on Pacifica Radio airs on KPFA 94.1 FM in the San Francisco Bay Area, and on KFCF 88.1 FM in Fresno and California's Central Valley.
It also broadcasts worldwide via kpfa.org.
The audio will be archived afterward, in on-demand and downloadable forms, at againstthegrain.org.
The Book History Colloquium at Columbia presents:
JANICE RADWAY, Walter Dill Scott Professor of Communications, Northwestern University
Girls, Zines, and their Afterlives: On the Significance of Multiple Networks and Itineraries of Dissent
Thursday, October 24 6pm
523 Butler Library Columbia University Morningside Campus, 535 West 114th Street
Preceded by a tour of the Barnard Zine Library at 5pm (meet in the lobby of the Barnard Library, Lehman Hall, Barnard campus, 3009 Broadway)
Dissident and non-conforming girls and young women developed an interest in what are now called “girl zines” through a number of different routes, with a range of different interests, and at different moments over the course of the last twenty years. This social, material and temporal variability raises interesting and important questions about whether “girl zines” should be thought of as a unitary phenomenon and, correlatively, whether the girl zine explosion should be thought of as an event, a social movement, a conversation, a political intervention, or something else. Drawing on oral history interviews with former girl zine producers as well as with zine librarians, archivists, and commentators, this presentation will raise questions about the recent history of feminism and its relationship to other “new social movements” at a time of significant economic, political, and technological change in the 1980s, 90s, and into the 21st century.
Janice Radway is the author of Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy and Popular Literature, and A Feeling for Books: The Book- of-the-Month Club, Literary Taste, and Middle Class Desire. In addition, Radway co-edited American Studies: An Anthology and Print in Motion: The Expansion of Publishing and Reading in the United States, 1880-1945, which is Volume IV of A History of the Book in America. She has served as the editor of American Quarterly, the official journal of the American Studies Association.
Co-sponsored with the Barnard Zine Library, Barnard College
For more information on the Book History Colloquium at Columbia, see http://library.columbia.edu/locations/rbml/exhibitions/2013-2014.html
I feel very lucky to be able to say that my work has now been published as one chapter in the book: Libraries and the Reading Public in Twentieth-Century America, Edited by Christine Pawley and Louise S. Robbins.
Thank you to all the folks who were a part in making this happen, especially anyone who has talked with me about the writing process or who helped me think over and wrestle with writing and research and scholarly communications at large.
It does feel very different/permanent/tangible to see the words I picked transformed into a codex. That doesn't mean I don't still want to change them, make them better, keep editing. But it does somehow feel bigger, to hold something in hand and to have it be part of something larger.
Here's a post I did over at the OA @ CUNY blog. Ruminating on licenses and what they mean (in general, in the courtroom, on the street, in one's imagination, anywhere else) is pretty much a daily conversation at my house. I think I may have a weird house?
This was a really fantastic development that I'm so happy to be able to share. I'm really excited and proud to have Robin take over the zine collection at Brooklyn College.
There's a short post about me at the Mina Rees Library blog, in case you're interested, and additionally there's now a lot more info about my scholarly and professional work over at this new site. I'm not sure what exactly posting more detailed information about my work on the web will do (other than make a good place for me to keep track of my projects--one of the site's main goals), but perhaps it could inspire a bit more transparency in academia like what Benjamin Mako Hill is talking about here?
Tomorrow is my last day as part of the library faculty at Brooklyn College. In July I will transition into my new role as the Electronic Resources and Serials Librarian at the Mina Rees Library. I'm excited to join the CUNY Graduate Center, which has been a second home to me since 2010 via the MALS program.
I have had many wonderful experiences at Brooklyn College. My time here has made me think of myself as not only a librarian, but a scholar, and I am very thankful for all that this has meant both personally and professionally. It has been hard to imagine leaving this library, many wonderful BC colleagues, and the Brooklyn College Library Zine Collection, but I know that both I and the collection will continue to grow and evolve, and that change is good!
This post is probably just for me, or perhaps more a record, but I wanted to note that I spent some time today (my first official holiday weekend I've had off in some time) working on this site. A real let's-sit-down-and-do-this afternoon, which hasn't happened in some time. Really it's hard to say that I worked as much as my partner-in-Drupal (I tend to imagine what I'd like to happen and then he figures out HOW), but together we did some theme altering that I'd wanted to change for some time, and some cleaning up of a lot of lingering weirdnesses.*
I've been having a lot of problems with bots and spam, also, and since really the folks who comment here tend to be people I know anyhow, and since I've opened up anonymous comments I've gotten so much spam that I would never have been able to find the legitimate needle in that haystack), I've turned all the commenting/account-creating features off. If anyone has anything they'd like to comment on or would like an account, there's a link to the contact page that should show up on the left hand side of each page now. I'm pretty accessible via this page and various emails that I'm sure are on the web too, so I hope that this change on the site doesn't stifle any conversations that could happen or make it less inviting.
I wanted to write about this here to keep a small record of all of the pruning and thinking that goes into maintaining even just a small site that takes up just a small corner on the web, like this one. Ideally it would get more affection and content/updates than it does, but whenever I tweak it to be closer to what I want it to be, it's pretty exciting.
Oh and thanks mjg for all of your help today!
"I would be interested in whatever you were interested in when you came to my office. That was my job." -- James P. Danky, from an interview conducted by Sean Moxley-Kelly
I read this article from the Chronicle of Higher Ed on the train home yesterday and reflected a little about my own workload and how I feel about it lately.
I'm struggling to work on a thesis right now while working full time. I've been in school for the past three plus years while working too, but the thesis is feeling more like a very LARGE project that is all ME somehow in a way that other coursework has not. Maybe it's because I'm doing new original research (as in, I thought I had ideas I was working up to in other coursework about what my thesis would be, but I took a turn into some new landscapes that require a lot of other research that's new to me).
My new goal, which has also been an older goal, but one that I'm trying to stick to right now is to be extremely and very careful about the things that I commit to--even fun and enticing things. I wish I could go off the grid a bit more, venture out into a writing cabin or somehow just be a little more isolated physically, but I think really what I need to work on is saying "yes no yes" or putting the thesis front and center. I might even stop drinking for the summer (a prospect that frightens me knowing how great Brooklyn for backyards and booze) but a decision that feels like it will help me gain lots of productivity and morning writing sessions (I hope?!).
What techniques and tips can you recommend for getting large research and writing projects accomplished?