On Going Viral at the (Virtual) MLA

In the final days of December, the annual MLA Convention was held, and I wasn’t there. For a number of reasons, I was unable to / decided not to attend the convention. Instead, I chose to post my paper on this blog and to tweet about it. What happened next was very surprising indeed. Thousands of people eventually ended up reading that blog post, commenting on it, and responding to it on their own blogs.

Much of the traffic to my paper was in fact generated by this last category. Indeed, many of these posts viewed my comments on the MLA and the profession with far greater acumen than I had been capable of. In particular, posts by Bitch Ph.D. (@bitchphd), Amanda French (@amandafrench), and Dave Parry (@academicdave; two posts, as a matter of fact) took the ball and ran very far indeed. If you haven’t read these posts and you found my paper interesting, you’re missing out. It’s also worth mentioning the two gracious write-ups on my paper (here and here) in The Chronicle of Higher Education by Jen Howard.

I felt something like an “absent presence” myself as the discussion about my paper went on for about a week. In part, I was swamped with the beginning of a new semester (we started 7 January). But I had also been contacted by an editor at The Chronicle Review and asked if I would write a follow-up piece to my experience. Having this opportunity not only gave me a wider venue for publishing but also gave me a little more time to reflect on what it all “meant.”

That piece–“On Going Viral at the (Virtual) MLA”–appears in this week’s Chronicle Review, and you can now read it online. The article is unfortunately behind a subscription paygate. But I hope many will be able to read it on your respective campuses, and I should be able to republish it here in 30 days or so.

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