Week 27 Update

16Feb09

Before I go on with my usual update I wanted to say hi to anyone who finds this blog via trackbacks or pingbacks when I link to blogs. I am a phd student in the early stages of studying the network of feminist blogs in Australia.  Basically I am looking at the role of online blogging communities in the feminist movement in Australia. How do they/we/you contribute to the discourse on women’s rights in this country? What significance do they/we/you hold for the writers of blogs and other participants in the debates? How closely integrated are they/we/you with international networks of feminist blogs? I am looking at these questions in the context of the academic fields of social movement studies and cyberculture studies. My research into this blogging community has significance not only for these fields but also for the future of Australian feminism. If you have any questions about my research or what I am doing then feel free to ask me. I welcome input from anyone with an interest or stake in the topic.

It’s been a while between updates, I know. That’s mostly because I’ve been writing various things, trying to get a feel for where I’m up to with my topic. Overall that’s going pretty well, and I’ve had a couple of breakthroughs in my thinking and have found a couple of potential/likely core texts. One of those is Michael Warner’s Publics and Counterpublics, the other is Margaretta Jolly’s In Love and Struggle, particularly the section on email. Now I’m back in a voracious reading phase, and thus I will be doing some more public reflection. Last week I re-read Challenging Codes by Alberto Melucci – from cover to cover this time – and found it infinitely more rewarding than I did on first reading.

I’m officially at the 6 month mark! I am not sure whether to feel great about that or absolutely freaked out. It feels like no time at all has passed since I started all this.

I also submitted my abstract to the IR 10.0 Conference, which was surprisingly nervewracking for a simple web form. I need to not stress out so much!

Also this week I’m starting discourse analysis properly, keeping track of conversations and information exchanges on specific topics around the feminist blogosphere, rather than simply reading randomly. I will probably also start doing more IssueCrawler maps to show how relationships between blogs form.

Last week I also started a PhD twitter. Although in general I am not really a fan of the microblogging phenomenon, it is a painless way to keep track of what I am doing day-to-day without writing big long updates.

Another thing I read, somewhat randomly, since I’d only borrowed the book for my partner to read and then forgotten to give it to him, was an essay by Slavoj Zizek; “Is it Possible to Traverse the Fantasy in Cyberspace?” which has an interesting perspective on the possibility of truly subversive, transgressive, transformative discursive acts in cyberspace. This is in contrast to the common sense idea that acts online are only virtual acts with no consequences for the real world.

Quote: “There is, of course, a long tradition of conceiving art as a mode or practice of writing auguring what ‘one cannot speak about’ – that is, the utopian potential ‘repressed’ by the existing socio-symbolic network of prohibitions. there is also a long tradition of using writing as a means to communicate a declaration of love too intimate and/or too painful to be directly asserted in a face-to-face speech-act.”

In a related, romantic aside (appropriate for Valentine’s Day) I’ve also been reading Jeanette Winterson’s The PowerBook, ostensibly in search of epigraphs, and getting entirely carried away. I always feel about 16 when reading Winterson, maybe because I was gifted my first novel of hers by my first love (who I met on the Internet!) at that age.  Swoon/spew. Here’s a couple of those potential epigraphs.

“It’s night. I’m sitting at my screen. There’s an e-mail for me. I unwrap it. It says- Freedom, just for one night.

“I know about disguise. I disguise myself from predators. I disguise myself from circumstance. The camouflages I use are elaborate, but I know what they are. Even my body is in disguise today.

But what if my body is the disguise? What if skin, bone, liver, veins, are the things I use to hide myself? I have put them on and I can’t take them off. Does that trap or free me?”

“The screen was dimming. The air was heavy. You and I, separated by distance, intimate of thought, waited. What were we waiting for – fingers resting lightly on the board like a couple of tableturners?”

“‘A stranger is a safe place. You can tell a stranger anything.'”

“This is a virtual world. This is a world inventing itself. Daily, new landmasses form and then submerge. New continents of thought break off from the mainland. Some benefit from a trade wind, some sink without trace. Others are like Atlantis – fabulous, talked about, but never found.”

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3 Responses to “Week 27 Update”

  1. Is there an email address we can contact you on?

  2. Hi! You are infinitely brave to share all these preliminary notes with the cyberworld! (I myself figured I can’t for the life of me share a work in progress. Only the stuff that seemingly doesn’t fit anywhere.) 🙂


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