Inside Higher Ed's "Meet the Bloggers" (and a few other tidbits)

I had a day of unintended “blog silence” yesterday because the service I use to host this (and other) blog(s), ICDsoft, crashed for the day, and crashed hard. From the sounds of it, something blew a fuse or a cable was cut or something. Anyway, they’re still a reliable service and I’d still recommend them.

This didn’t give me a chance to blog about an article that showed up on Inside Higher Ed yesterday, “Radical Shift for MLA– on Meeting Date.” To quote at length:

The endorsement of a date change by the Delegate Assembly at the MLA annual convention in Philadelphia Friday was perhaps the biggest news for the thousands of MLA members who voiced overwhelmingly on a recent survey that holding the convention during the peak of the holiday season no longer makes sense. In a survey of 20,000 members, which yielded 5,806 responses, 75 percent indicated that shifting the date so that the convention always begins the first Thursday following January 2 would positively affect their decision to attend. Just 9 percent said it would negatively affect their decision (9 and 7 percent respectively said it would not affect their decision or they weren’t sure).

This will certainly help the situation, but as long as MLA keeps up its primary role as a “job market,” I think that people will still be pretty grumpy at it. Oh, and as long as it continues to equate “English studies” with “literature,” I’m not that interested.

Anyway, the other Inside Higher Ed piece was a report on the “Meet the Bloggers” MLA panel by Scott McLemee called “Against Phalloblogocentrism.” Interesting piece for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is that it includes links to several of the presenter’s papers, things I’ll have to go back and read when I’m not distracted by getting ready for this pesky school semester coming up next week.

From what I can tell from this article, it was a pretty good panel, and the apparent “star” of it was Bitch, PhD. Interestingly enough, this panel (and also this article) “outted” the pseudoanonymous blogger as Tedra Osell, an assistant professor of English at the University of Guelph. From there, it’s but a hop and a skip to a brief version of her CV, and then even a site with a picture of her (but I’ll let you do your own searches for those).

Frankly, I have mixed feelings about the so-called phallocentric nature of the “blogosphere” that McLemee discusses and that Osell’s presentation (as of yet not online) eluded to. To quote from the Inside Higher Ed piece:

There was one moment in Osell’s presentation that must have hit close to home, given the panel’s Y-chromosomal preponderance: her reference to the “old-boy network� in the blogosphere. This is no joke — and no exaggeration, either. Just before heading off to Philadelphia, I had photocopied an article from the summer 2006 issue of Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly called “The Gendered Blogosphere: Examining Inequality Using Network and Feminist Theory.� Looking it over now, it’s striking how exact her formulation really is.

The authors, Dustin Harp and Mark Tremayne, are both assistant professors of journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. “Sampling over one year from blog rankings,� they note, “we found that 10% of the top [political] bloggers were women.� They consider various explanations of why this might be, but conclude that “the linked nature of blogs� has had a skewing effect given certain tendencies familiar to network theorists.

Well, okay. But what’s the gender sample for blogs who are writing about cooking? About childcare/family life? About composition studies? What I’m getting at is it perhaps makes some sense that most political blogs are gendered male since politics in general has been gendered male for a long time.

One more thing about Osell’s/BitchPhD’s appearance at this: I have never been much of a fan of the pseudo-anonymous blog thing, and there are lots of reasons why I don’t read BitchPhD that much. I like the things that she (and others) have to say there about academia and politics (occasionally, at least); I’m not as wild about the posts on her boyfriend and semi-open marriage (that falls into the category of “too much information” for me, but call me a squimish small-town boy from Iowa on that if you like).

So I’m not a fan/regular reader. But I have to think that at least part of the fascination people have with reading that blog is trying to figure out who she is. Well, now that we know, is it as interesting?

Slight addition:

From Sivacracy.net comes another summary of this panel.

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2 Responses to Inside Higher Ed's "Meet the Bloggers" (and a few other tidbits)

  1. enlightened says:

    I have actually read “The Gendered Blogosphere: Examining Inequality Using Network and Feminist Theory”, which it would appear you have not, considering your reference to “recipes, and children/ family life blogs”. Nonetheless, your comment completely side steps the quote Osell used in her presentation. What erks you more that the top ten% of Political bloggers are female or that there is a ring of truth to the theory purposed. That unless female blogs are providing some sort of entertainment by feeding social stereotypes such as recipes or gossip as you purpose, that in fact your networking strategy is simply of the male variety, and you can not argue more intelligently than to fling such ignorant and dated stereotypes around. Thankyou for providing again another amazing example of whom exactly perpetuates the patriarchal hegemony that the rest of us are trying to move on from, bravo.

  2. Steven D. Krause says:

    I actually thought this comment was spam because it’s been so long since I wrote about this originally and because I don’t think this writer actually read my post. But I don’t get a lot of comments here, so I’ll let it stand.

    I’m not erked at all about political bloggers being female (or not– I’m not sure I follow this poster’s point), and I certainly am not suggesting that the role of female bloggers is to feed my social stereotypes, perpetuating the patriarchal hegemony, etc. It seems to me that you’re assuming a lot about my own ideas on stereotypes, that only women write about things like childcare and entertaining and cooking; obviously, you have not read my unofficial blog.

    Anyway, being a big sexist pig/macho man isn’t exactly my bag, and I don’t think it was what I was trying to do here. And hey, you’re already “enlightened,” which must be nice. So if you’re convinced you know all about me from my less than positive response to Bitch,PhD, well, I don’t think there’s going to be much I can say to persuade you otherwise.

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