Blogging Under My Own Name

I started blogging after I got tenure. And when I began, I had already been "out" on the web under my real name for a couple of years. When I started my first weblog, it never occurred to me to post anonymously. I didn't think about it at the time, but the decision to post under my own name was the result of three things:
  1. The privilege of tenure;
  2. A sense that privacy on-line is an illusion;
  3. Blogging seemed a natural extension of writing & publishing, which had been doing under my own name since I was 17 years old.
I understand why the untenured blog anonymously. I occasionally read around in the anonymous academic blogs, but generally find that their concerns are different enough from mine that I have not fallen into the habit of reading. The one anonymous academic blog I do read regularly is Bardiac. Written by a (tenured) woman Shakespeare prof in the Midwest, I find myself particularly drawn to her accounts of teaching & advising, which ring absolutely true to my own experience. In reading Bardiac, though, I have sometimes thought, Why don't you step out from behind the curtain, professor? But lately, dealing with grading issues & with colleagues who believe you can teach writing by teaching grammar -- to say nothing of an idiotic university curriculum committee* -- I have wished I could withdraw behind a curtain of anonymity in order to write what I really think. I could go to WordPress of Blogger of course & start a blog called, say, Full of It, about the trials & tribulations of a full professor at a small private university in the Northeast, but that doesn't really appeal to me as a writer. I'm stuck with my name. But I've decided to be somewhat less circumspect in this space. I won't be naming names, but I will occasionally describe characters & situations, I think. In the classroom & in the hallway & in department meetings. I'll no doubt be full of it in any case, but I'll be writing under my own name, which requires a kind of responsibility not required of anonymous writers (though I understand & support the need to write anonymously in many situations). One of the things that I like about Dorothea Salo's blog Caveat Lector is that she is willing to make waves there that lap over into her professional life. Same goes for Shelley Powers at Burningbird. Both occasionally piss people off, including me. Good models of eponymous blogging. _______________________ *This group of bean counters actually won an award at Recognition Day this year. All they have ever done for me is waste my time with needless paperwork, requiring a form to be filled out & included with a syllabus that already has the information required by the form. This leads me to believe they are collectively unable to read, i.e., illiterate.

Author: jd

Joseph Duemer is Professor of Literature Emeritus at Clarkson University in northern New York state. His most recent book of poems is Magical Thinking from Ohio State University Press. Since the mid-1990s he has spent a good deal of time in Vietnam, mostly Hanoi. He lives with his wife Carole & five terriers (four Jack Russells & one Patterdale) on the stony bank of the Raquette River in South Colton.

7 thoughts on “Blogging Under My Own Name”

  1. We treading down a road that leads to submitting lesson plans for approval. This all occurs in the larger context of the university being remodeled as a corporation. Witness the overuse of the word “excellence.” Here are outcomes that must be met. Here is the assessment that shows outcomes being met. If outcomes are not met, then the way of doing business has to change, become more formulaic and quantifiable. Outcomes become increasingly attenuated, and the teaching/learning relation utterly rationalized.

  2. Chris, just like a philosopher to respond to the footnote rather than the post itself! But I agree with you.

  3. On the comment on the footnote comment: In Texas our higher education coordinating board is making every institution from the University of Texas to my community college talk like Chris Robinson’s comment. They will also eventually make us walk the talk, so to speak.

    On anonymous blogging: it’s that only up to a point at which the anoynmous adjunct at SMU was outed as she was writing about her students, annoying or otherwise. After being outed, she was ousted.

    If I blogged I would comment on my process in my classroom and hint at how external forces might be shaping what’s happening there. That is, making me do things differently from how I would prefer to do them. I do not blog, but I do comment on other people’s blogs, like yours.

    I do miss your paintings; my wife had your mar’s moon rising picture you sent me sandwiched between 2 pieces of glass and mounted–it hangs in our dining room. You can see Mars on the front and when you turn it over you can read your address label. I will send you a photo of it some day. \

    I also think random verses would be nice again.

    thelrd in TEXAS

    watch for more birds; think fewer negative thoughts.

  4. Larry, you offer good advice. I will try to take it. I pretty much stopped painting because I was writing less & because I’m not as good a painter as I am a poet. But maybe it’s time to get the old art materials out of the drawer again.

  5. I responded to the footnote in a way that would respond to the post too — by signing it. I yearn for tenure, for the protection it affords, and because the thought of having to leave good friends like you behind to return to an itinerant academic career is too painful to contemplate. But I do not want to wait for tenure to speak truth or express controversial opinions.

  6. I’ve put off commenting on this because it’s been something of a warm issue for me this past semester. Up until recently my blogging has never been a problem in relation to my job (private high school english teacher of 31 years … very very untenured … of course).

    I also, long ago, decided that I’d never write anonymously. But I have to admit that that decision has caused me to self-censor to a very high degree … which makes it worse to realize that an administrator could become upset and “offended” over a post in which I’d taken great care to offend no one. There’s no winning this game. Someone will always be “offended.”

    On the matter of the corporate-quantification-trust-no-teacher movement, college folks should keep an eye on what’s been happening on the secondary level … it’s almost certainly moving in yr direction … and is worth resisting at every turn …

    personal aside: Dear Larry Davis, would you have been the Larry Davis I knew at St. John’s College back in the eighties? If so, I was the Tom Murphy you would have known then. Either way, hello!

  7. Chris, I understand. And admire. And I am a staunch defender of tenure, which you should have had long ago. In a just world & all that . . .

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