How to Read this Dossier

This site represents the electronic dossier put together for my review for promotion to full professor at Pomona College. As such, it brings together much of the scholarly work I’ve done over the last eleven years, as well as some thinking about that work.

You may interact with the site in a number of different ways. At right, under “information,” you will find my cv; many of its entries link directly to the texts they reference. On the dossier’s top page (reached by clicking “home” in the navigation bar), the slideshow at top center links to the entries about my books, and the nodes below the slideshow each link to an entry about an article; at the bottom of the page is a reverse-chronological list of my most recent publications.

You may, however, wish to explore these entries by category; you can reach the category page either through the navigation bar at top or the list of review materials at right. The categories of “books” and “articles” are fairly self-explanatory; I use the category of “notes” for briefer articles, many of which were published online.

I am adhering to the requirement here that I distinguish peer-reviewed articles from those that were not traditionally peer reviewed (despite the obvious irony in doing so, given my argument in chapter 1 of my most recent book, Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy) by the addition of an asterisk after the title of a peer-reviewed article’s entry on this site. I am taking the liberty, however, of indicating articles and notes that I consider to have been subjected to a prototype of a non-traditional, open form of peer review via online publication in commentable form, by the addition of two asterisks after their titles. I follow these conventions on my CV as well, though with the placement of the asterisks before the entries.

We are sending my external reviewers a hard copy of my first book, The Anxiety of Obsolescence: The American Novel in the Age of Television, and there’s a copy available in the office for internal reviewers; I have a pdf version of that text as well, which I’d be happy to share via the chair of my committee, but I have opted not to put it online here for the time being.

I made the decision to present my dossier in this digital form for a number of reasons: first, because a significant percentage of the work I’ve done since receiving tenure has been web-native; reproducing that work in print format runs the risk of undoing the structural benefits of publishing such work digitally, including the representation of links and connections within and across texts, and the inclusion of discussion about a text within that text’s frame. Second, this format will allow the dossier to become a living document, which can grow as new material becomes available, thus allowing me to create a portfolio of my scholarly work that is simultaneously dynamic and persistent. And third, the digital form can help reduce the costs of printing and mailing the dossier, a savings that may become increasingly important in these times of budget retraction and concern for environmental sustainability.

This site also enables me to practice a good bit of what I’ve been preaching, both in Planned Obsolescence and in my digital media studies classes: the public intellectual presence of the scholar online is becoming increasingly important in the age of widespread social media, and doing our work in public is one key way of demonstrating its ongoing relevance in an culture whose skepticism about the values of the academy continues to grow.

One of the arguments that I’ve made, in Planned Obsolescence and elsewhere, is about the changing nature of peer review in digital scholarship; the network makes much more information about scholarship available to us, enabling us to see not just that an article has been published or a talk has been given, but the kinds of impact the publication or talk has had on the field. Some of this impact is visible through web-based statistics (for instance, I know that as of November 15, 2009, Planned Obsolescence has received 134 comments from 19 different readers, not counting my own 57 responses and comments, and that it has been seen by more than 4200 readers), but some is visible through more substantive forms of interaction, including inbound links from blog posts and articles discussing the text. I have attempted to represent some of this impact that my work has had in the “Critical Responses” category, which contains a number of links to discussions of my projects around the web.

I hope that you find the reading experience here a fruitful one.

[updated 6 January 2010]