I apologize for the triple exclamation and caps-lock-stick. Erica will know the reference.
I started this blog in May 2008. May 20 to be exact. That's tomorrow! I haven't run out of things to write about yet, but I'm having some brain blockage today -- I figured May 2010 would be a good opportunity to recap a little and post some links to some of my favorite posts, in honor of my second Blogiversary.
The quality of this blog has varied with my levels of busy-ness, commitment to school, etc. My least successful posts probably fall under the category of "Social Rants" (see categories on the left), as would anyone's, but I am pleased to see that after two years, "Writing" and "Literature" top the categories list. This is, and was always meant to be, a place to hash things out, to throw somethin' out there, and sometimes even to make notes for a paper. I've been authoritative. I've been embarrassingly vulnerable. I've been humble. I've been an asshole.
I used to keep track of my favorites with the "My Picks" tag, but it's impossible to know if you love or even like something you've written until you have a few weeks (or months) go by and then look back on it. So here are a few, some with interesting comment conversations. I left out a couple of faves that I've linked to often. Unless noted at the bottom of the post, these are unedited since publishing.
"Course in General Egoism" August 2008 -- Scans of and commentary on some hilarious marginalia in my pre-owned copy of Saussure's Course in General Linguistics. My writing here isn't top notch or anything, but the guy's snarks are just so funny! And I let him have it. If you've ever enjoyed any kind of humorous marginalia please read, and leave a detailed comment with your own anecdote. I love these finds.
Rock Block --"In Defense of Rockin': Part 1" April 2009 -- A first effort in defending my recurring academic talk about rock music. I never wrote a part two, but I have continued to try my hand at some semi-serious cultural or even literary (sort of) criticism when it comes to music. This post explains why I keep trying. Supplement that with "The Evolution of the Music Review," a comparison of a well-executed '70s review with a shitty '90s one, for a cultural angle, and "Comfortably, Wordsworth" for my continual grasping at the literary straws in music.
Ecstasy of Analysis February 2009 -- A short post where I realize how much I like doing the work of the literature student, and how much I like formalism. Not only do we become comfortable with this work, but we get downright ecstatic about it, in every meaning of that word. It's neat to look back on posts like these and be stunned by how recent they are. Only two years have I known I want to be an Englishy academic when I grow up. Only one year have I known how to classify or explain anything about literary criticism! (And I still don't know all that much about how to do it. Don't tell DePaul...)
"Herme-who-tics?" April 2009 -- Commentary on the dense language used by academics (who know what the words mean) and students (who usually have no idea what they're saying). This was incredibly fun to write because I let myself start it with a sort of university farce. I have still not mastered the use of the word hermeneutics. But I'm going to a big philosophy school in the fall, so I will remedy that for sure (and until then you won't catch me throwing it around pell-mell!). You can tell me what you think it means, if you like. I might believe you.
"Tuscany, by any other Name" March 2010 -- Example of silliness with some kind of message. I write on advertising often, so I thought I should include one ad rant. Humor, jerkiness, and a little bit of the naughty.
Philosophical/Critical block -- "Robyn Byrd is Itchy Type-writer Finger" and "Anxiety of Canon" (both April 2009, a "productive" month) represent the most ambitious academic sort of writing I've actually done here. I hope to subject you all to more of that as my studies get more serious, but fortunately for me I will never be all that serious in my personal writing, so these more disciplined posts may remain few and far between.
"The Literature Subject Test: Problems, Advice" October 2009 -- I include this one because it's useful, and if you've found me because you are an undergrad looking for English fun and advice (I've talked to a couple of you!) this might help your test taking. It seems so long ago now! I never updated this with my scores (I'll keep the raw score confidential...) but suffice it to say that I was "competitive" on the literature subject test, whereas on the general GRE I was "highly competitive." I plan to retake both next year to make myself a little shinier and more noticeable on those Ph. D. program applications, but like this post advises, I won't stress over the lit scores next time either.
Last one... "'Supposing that Writing Exists': My First Derridaversary" May 2009 -- So last year instead of celebrating the blog I celebrated having been a Derrida-reader for a year. (Which doesn't mean much for making progress with him. I'm sure it takes decades.) I include this because it touches on the kind of isolation some of us sometimes experience because of what we choose to study. Also because, when in an intellectual lull, this is one of those "I wrote that?" posts. I had begun a project on Derrida in May 2008, and I had to abandon it for lack of support and time, despite being just as excited about it a year later. I have a big blue folder, stuffed, and a bibliography -- that's all that remains of it now. I hope I can revive it in grad school, find some support, and also find time to read more Derrida (re-read actually) and his Frenchie pals and antagonists.
I know not all of these things will be interesting to all readers, but I hope you find something funny or helpful that you might have missed when it was first "published." To all my newly blogified friends, keep writing! You will stumble and you will produce some crap, but this public performance and exchange (on appropriate topics -- I know we don't all want to share everything we write!) can shape your writing for the better, and even help direct your studies when they lose focus. These documents become useful when reread, revised, and when analyzed from a distance, i.e. as through the category or label counts at the side. Today I had nothing to write about. I'm sure I might tomorrow. Might.
Afternoon Update: I am excited and nervous and pleased and all kinds of things to announce that I actually have a class schedule for this fall! A nice Blogiversary development. It finally seems a little more real. (Until that first day of class, when it will become entirely surreal.)