Does the world need a new blog? Probably not, but I do.
I’ve been hanging out for the past six and a half years in a quirky little corner of the blogosphere known as Roxie’s World, where I wrote, with great delight and satisfaction, in the voice of a bossy, opinionated wire-haired fox terrier. Why? Oh, heck, I don’t know. Why not? It started out as a lark, but I got hooked on the fun of imagining a world and bringing readers into it with me. As a scholar of American culture and writing, I was also fascinated with blogging as a social and literary form. Doing it taught me a lot about reading, writing, and the work of criticism in the 21st century.
Old dog bloggers never die — They just have longer telecommutes is the joke I came up with as a way to explain how the actual dog who inspired my blog would continue to be the narrator and presiding genius of Roxie’s World after her death. The embodied Roxie ceased to be on the penultimate day of 2009, and, true to the joke, the blog went on. It could, theoretically, keep right on going, but lately I’ve begun to feel that the experiment has run its course and perhaps it is time to make a change. I’ve found myself interested in the possibility of beginning again, taking on a new “supposed person,” as Emily Dickinson termed the identities produced through verbal performance.
So here we are. Welcome to the new blog, not quite the same as the old blog but not all that different either. If you’ve been running with the pack over in Roxie’s World for the last little while, you should feel right at home here. You can expect to encounter commentary on a similar, eclectic mix of subjects from a familiar perspective: queer, feminist, critter-affirming, with a tone that moves between and among irreverence, optimism, and righteous indignation, with occasional unapologetic lapses into sentimentality. I’ll write about higher education, middle age, new media, politics, queer stuff, books I read or teach, the stuff I watch on TV. I will rail about Excellence Without Money (which is still ™RW Enterprises LLC) and wax rhapsodic on college women’s basketball. I’ll offer glimpses of life with my new companion terrier, Ruby, and my companion human of 28+ years, the woman known on Roxie’s World as Goose. There’ll be jokes, recipes, pictures I take. Maybe even pictures I draw.
Like, you know, that one there on the left. (Pathetic, I know, but this is the kind of thing that happens when a girl gets a stylus to go with her iPad soon after finishing up Alison Bechdel’s latest book, which you should totes read, by the way.)
The idea of the Madwoman with a Laptop (ML for short!) came to me a couple of years ago when I was writing a short piece on academic feminist blogging for a collection Claire Potter (aka Tenured Radical) put together for The Journal of Women’s History. The figure was useful for thinking through questions about gender, literary history, and pseudonymity that were at the heart of that essay. It was also a satisfying way to pay tribute to the enduring influence of two of my most important teachers and mentors, Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, whose monumental work of feminist criticism, The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination, remains a standard in the field.
I don’t know why it took me so long to realize the Madwoman with a Laptop would also be a kick-a$$ framework for a blog, but no one has ever accused me of being quick to change. I am after all an academic and thus an incrementalist at heart. I also felt great loyalty and attachment to the beloved critter who made me a dog person as well as a blogger. Ready or not, however, I’m changing now. I hope you’ll come along for the ride and take a glimpse at the world through the Madwoman’s eyes. Who knows what you will see and what we might be together? Stay tuned, my pretties.