(I've been playing with this post for a day or so now, and waited until the link to me fell off the main page at IHE. I assume we're pretty much back to the usual crowd today.)
I blog. So it's logical to assume I want people to read what I have to say, right? If I didn't, I'd just put it all in drafts, and no one would be the wiser, or I'd just keep some journal or whatever. But the fun in blogging is in communicating, and especially in having people communicate back.
Thus, getting a nod from a carnival, IHE, or whatever should bring great pleasure. It certainly does bring pleasure. A lot of the pleasure is that someone thought you were interesting enough to link to, and there's an implicit approval there, a "hey, Bardiac said something cool." And I've always wanted to be a cool kid.
But since I've been blogging now a couple of months, and before that started reading blogs for about a month or so, I've gotten a sense of blogging communities. There are people I read regularly, mostly because I find them engaging and interesting; I'll often respond to them. Some people I feel a bit inadequate to respond to, as if my response is going to be read as being from fangirlBardiac or something (because we've read those, right?). I'm not saying I'm logical about this.
A couple of people I find really provocative because I sometimes disagree with them; but I only respond to those if I like the blog a lot, if I think the blogger is worth disagreeing with. Because I don't see a point to being just disagreeable, but good disagreement is helpful because it makes me (or someone else) think or rethink issues.
I read a couple blogs just because they hold the macabre fascination of a train wreck for me; I don't respond to them because the logical train wreck in progress is just fascinating, and because I don't see the point in going to someone else's turf and being nasty, especially when it's not likely to provoke rethinking or a fun discussion.
(Yes, I realize that some people who read here must think of my blog as a train wreck in progress, just waiting to see what stupid nonsense comes off my keyboard next. )
Sometimes I respond here linking to posts I've read elsewhere; sometimes it's because I disagree with those posts, or don't understand something. Other times, it's just outright admiration. Usually it's some combination. I try to characterize those posts fairly.
So, the ambivalence thing:
I've confessed before to my infatuation with sitemeter. One of the things that's fascinating about the sitemeter is that you can see where referrals come from. Recently, IHE linked me, and pretty much every referral was from there, with a few regulars, mostly people I regularly read. And then there were a couple referrals from sites I hadn't seen before, so I looked at those.*
I'm not quite sure how to read the commentary on one of the linking sites. I think s/he was being very mildly snarky, but I'm not even sure. Mostly s/he was taking issue with something said in the comments, but even there I wasn't sure what the blogger's take on the comment was, in agreement or not.
The final comment seemed again, mildly snarky, about my being anonymous along with the commenters. That's a legitimate issue. I respect folks like PZ Myers and Michael Berube for using their real names, but I've chosen not to.
There's the unpleasure of feeling uncertain that I quite understand what's being said about me, but mostly there's the unpleasure of feeling that I'm being taken to task for saying things I didn't say because both sites I noticed (I think) mischaracterized my words, implying that I'd said my students who didn't get into grad school were applying in lit or top lit programs. (And both used quotation marks, as if they were quoting, though they weren't.)
Reading them, I thought, "Gosh, Bardiac, did you really say 'lit' or 'top lit' programs?" So I checked, and no I didn't. (And yes, I do actually say "gosh" and stuff, because I'm just such an effing sophisticate.)
It makes sense that I didn't because several of the students I was thinking about are specifically aiming for composition or sci/tech writing programs; I respect the students' interests in these areas of study. Indeed, I encourage students to look into those areas both because they're incredibly interesting AND because there just may be future jobs in those areas, so I don't feel like ethical scum and have to give them the "the job outlook sucks in lit" talk.
Social class-wise, my students rarely try to get into top tier graduate programs. I have a vague sense that most top tier programs don't favor students from places like Northwoods U. I don't know if some people really realize how classist their programs are (it's the unpacking the backpack thing, in a way).
So, after reading these blogs, I feel like I've been set up as a straw-Bardiac for things I didn't actually say. I know I say plenty of stupid things, so to be mocked for stupid stuff I didn't say feels weird.
It's not like I'm injured or outraged. It's more like being a kid and having people laugh at me, but not really being sure why, except that it's at me, and not with me, and it feels sort of bad (until my inner Robin Williams kicks in and wants to go all out for whatever laughs I can get).
And then there's the realization that surrounding my post (the one about grad school questions that other blogs were linking) were silly entries about my athletic team, break plans, and such. Or posts like this one, just thinking out loud, because there's no way to communicate to the usual friendly readers/bloggers who help me think things through and make useful suggestions without also exposing myself to the train-wreck-watchers. I feel all sorts of ambivalence about "strangers" reading about my new rack. (I hope regular readers found it somewhat amusing.)
So, this is for the train-wreck-watchers: I profess literature, but I teach in an English department. My department includes lit folks, comp/rhet folks, sci/tech folks, linguistics folks, creative writing folks, ed folks, and film folks. It's become clear to me as I talk to, say, linguistics folks, that they sometimes feel like outsiders because lit folks dominate and don't realize how much we dominate. That's a problem and I'm learning about it.
I unabashedly and unashamedly love teaching Shakespeare, Chaucer, drama, early modern lit, poetry... and I struggle and work hard to teach theory. If loving what I do for a living seems stupid, well, then, I'm pretty darned stupid.
I teach composition pretty much every term. It's the most difficult class I teach, and not my favorite (though I prefer it infinitely to having to teach Whitman), but I take my responsibility to teach it seriously, and I work hard to try to teach it well. I learn from my colleagues (and researchers I read, etc) and try to use their ideas and methods to do better.
If you see me disparage people for studying in any academic field, then for sure, take me to task. But the straw Bardiac thing? Naw, too easy, don't you think?
One of the other things I learn from looking at my sitemeter stuff is that most people who get here by searches get here by searching for information on paragraph organization, help with letters of recommendation (or this one), and stuff about the St. Crispin's Day speech. For an elitist Shakespearean, I suck at this blogging about Shakespeare thing.
*I thought about whether I should link these two posts, but decided not to. If anyone's really curious, I'm sure you can find both with a quick search of blogs, or you could email me. PS. I won't be on for the next couple days since I have a visitor coming into flyover country from out of town!