Clearly, we started in medias res: our blog content and authors need an introduction, a prospectus if you will, for our project. But maybe it’s apropos that we jumped right into the thick of things …
There is a unique relationship between Romanticists and the digital that I have yet to put my finger on theoretically. With such enormous contributions to the digital humanities field made by Jerome McGann, Alan Liu, Laura Mandell, Romantic Circles, The Blake Archive, NINES, 18thConnect, The Poetess Archive and Journal, RaVoN, and other important Romanticists and projects too numerous to list, there must be something that draws scholars in our discipline to “half-create” and “perceive” in this digital textual research and writing environment. Here’s our half (or quarter).
The NASSR Graduate Student Caucus members in our earliest meetings wanted to construct a web “hub” that would connect our grad colleagues in discussions and issues relating to reading and research, writing, professionalizing, teaching, and braving the job market. One small piece of the hub is this blog.
We hope our posts will engender a sense of community among grad student Romanticists. At every conference I attend, I meet other PhD students in Romanticism who present their research on unique and important topics and engage with similar questions about the profession. (We’re also usually slightly less socially comfortable among the masses of chatting professors at conference events, unless we’re lucky enough to know another graduate student or professor at the conference — but that also makes it easy for us to spot one another.) We’re thinking of this blog as another venue–one that is accessible and doesn’t require travel expenses–to talk to one another about Romanticism scholarship and teaching from our point of view. Not that our posts necessarily must address Romanticism–my first post on analog reading technologies obviously did not, Michele’s post on forming a reading group takes a geographically and chronologically capacious view of the field, and Kelli’s post on emotive reading uses her experience teaching Frankenstein to rethink pedagogical approaches to teaching close reading.
As a large and dispersed body of grad students of Romanticism(s), teachers, writers, readers, and probably aspiring professors, we will have this blog and our forthcoming website as a shared space of praxis, networking, problem solving, and collaboration.
We bloggers include PhD students of Romanticism at varying stages in our degrees; studying a wide range of authors and subjects from flower books to Byron; and teaching different courses that include Shakespeare for Non-Majors, a survey of Women Writers, and Masterpieces of British Literature. We aim to blog on the issues that affect us, rile us, and inspire us as we novice professionals learn to navigate the field and establish how we will contribute to it. No bloggers have any pre-set categories or topics on which to blog, but surely our interests will drive our content. Our topics will include questions, challenges, and solutions to pedagogical issues as well as research, reading, and writing methodologies. We’ll blog about what we’re teaching and how we’re teaching it, what we’re reading or re-reading in the field that we find useful and exciting, as well as what professional activities we participate in (reading groups, planning conferences, attending conferences, trying to get published, etc.).
In sum: we hope that reading/skimming/glancing at our blog will engender connections at some level between those of us in the field that will make our work less solitary (perhaps even collaborative), and that will trumpet our victories as we leap ballerina-like through shrinking flaming hula-hoops and land–only slightly singed but hopefully employed–on the other side.
Belated introduction complete! Now, back to work.