Blog Post

Greetings from Jason, Syracuse U!

I'm honored to be back this year as a HASATC scholar rep'ing Syracuse University's Composition & Cultural Rhetoric program. I'm a 4th year doctoral student interested in intersections between public writing and DIY publishing. Last year I participated in HASTAC through the Pedagogy Project; by writing a chapter review of danah boyd’s excellent, accessible book, It’s Complicated; and by collaborating on projects with some brilliant HASTAC Scholars.
 
This semester I’m in the midst of prospecting a diss that looks at how the delivery systems of DIY publishing communities have gradually come to terms with the commercialization of the web. I'm specifically looking at all 65 back issues of Toronto's Broken Pencil, a still-in-print meta-zine founded in 1995, to understand how zine communities -- as activist print cultures --  have gradually adjusted their attitude and approach toward a digital landscape that on one hand promises more democratic access to various tools and audiences, while on the other requires compromises that fundamentally redefine their material values, including autonomy, diversity, community, and contingency, just to name a few. In short, I’m seeking to historicize a contemporary tension for many media activists who are critical of neoliberal ideology and mass consumption even while making use of proprietary media and micro capitalist tools. 
 
Although I’ve framed the research in terms of composition and rhetoric’s public turn, I hope this might seem relevant to folks studying the future of the public sphere, including the increasing privatization of physical and virtual spaces of discourse, the role of counterpublics and lifestyle politics in activism, and how emerging social theories and methodologies, such as actor-network theory, help researchers understand the ways in which power is always already actively distributed in a network. In fact, I’m still kicking around methods, including distant reading approaches, so if folks have ideas about that, I’d love to hear them.
 
My interest in DIY extends to the importance of material, embodied spaces for making. As part of my fellowship for the NY Council for the Humanities, then, I’m in the midst of planning Syracuse In Print (with fellow HASTAC'r Patrick Williams), an analog culture festival slated for Fall 2015 in the City of Syracuse. In addition to showcasing some of the best examples of print culture Syracuse has to offer, SIP is also the culmination of a series of community writing workshops that are focused on making zines, chapbooks, and other forms of print to sell, trade, or barter on the day of the event. Our hope is that this event will use multiple tools and multiple genres to bring together strangers who feel committed to their writing but have circulated it in limited ways.
 
I’m looking forward to chatting more as the term progresses and especially connecting with folks who have interest in the public humanities, zines, print or DIY culture, circulation studies, or writing pedagogy!
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