THE NOWHERES & EVERYWHERE OF ONLINE FEMINISM

January 7, 2011

I am on sabbatical during the Spring of 2011. During this period of relative freedom, I plan to promote, network, and engage with my YouTube video-book (to be released February 7) and to begin thinking about, researching, and getting my hands dirty within my new project regarding online feminism. Towards this end, and in response to my own peculiar and perennial sabbatical-problem (how to not fall into the rabbit hole of structurelessness), I will be teaching a course on this topic at USC (CTCS 412): enjoying new Southern California climes, students, and academic cultures.

The course is similar to my YouTube class in that I ask my students to engage in a criticism of digital space inside that space and within its own vernaculars, hence pushing ideas and practices of scholarly pedagogy, writing and engagement within new media. This leads to fun and innovative classes where students are pressed to be creative which proves to be at once liberating and frightening for many  who have honed the 5 paragraph or 5 page paper, churning out well-wrought ideas in this (perhaps) dying form but not usually asked to think about other modes of now-familiar online communication as also potentially intellectual if not simply intelligent. For this class, my students will be choosing a digital space in which to reside, critique, intervene and build for a semester in the name of their own interpretations of feminism, race, and digital politics. I, too, will be engaging in a few related projects (more later).

This blog also serves as the introduction to my first class session—Monday January 10—and thus the syllabus resides here (and not on paper, and in public) for my students (and curious readers). In being here, as it is and as I am, this blog-post also models one example of the terrain under consideration. Namely, is a blog-post about feminism online written by a feminist blogger and read by her students (and others) creating and engaging  a feminist online space and of what type? The immediate answers point toward my new interests, what I hope will be the focus of the class: What is the nature, failings, powers and possobilities of this digital community (I have a core body of readers, but they don’t hardly ever respond; I don’t know who most of them are unless, often in passing, often in person [or via email] they mention that they have read this or that on my blog). My blog community is, without question, of a different nature from the classroom community that will discuss this post live and together at USC (where, as the feminist professor,  I will have set groundrules for and will also enact a style of conversation and participation that will promote communal, shared interaction). What is the nature of these on, off and in-between-line spaces and their interactions, and can they be more conscientiously shaped to produce feminist affect, action, or interaction? Given the politics of representation and visibility that were core for all identity-based political movements (and also many of their post-phases) is this digital production “political”  in itself, in that I have a voice and forum and with it I use a set of (feminist) words (like feminism) as well as a particular orientation and method (I-voice, informal but not amateur, self-reflexive, goal-oriented, Socratic)?

Class? Users? Ideas?

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