Monday, January 28, 2013

Dr. Jen Almjeld speaking at UF on Feb. 6: “A Rhetorician’s Guide to Love: Online Dating Profiles as Remediated Commonplace Books”

Jennifer M. Almjeld, Ph.D., assistant professor of English at New Mexico State University, will present “A Rhetorician’s Guide to Love: Online Dating Profiles as Remediated Commonplace Books” at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 6, in Old Main, Ritz Auditorium.

Online daters use templates, images, and text to “write themselves” into the role of dater and this rhetorical work has direct comparisons to historic commonplace books. The presentation offers an insider look at the community with analysis primarily of the author’s own online dating profile and focusing specifically on the use of design templates, pull-down menus, and linguistic and visual cues used to perform gendered identity. Despite the promise of interactive, dynamic online spaces to provide full and malleable online dating ads, profiles remain remarkably close to generations-old practices for writing identity. This rhetorical analysis, then, first situates commonplace books as textual identity production and performance and then posits as a remediation of the commonplace book wherein modern daters negotiate tensions between master narratives concerning gender performances and personal, authentic identity performances. Specifically, when comparing these remediated dating commonplace books to their Victorian era predecessors, the author consider dependence on limited, normative views of gender, the use of scripts and visual and linguistic commonplaces, and the public nature of a privately crafted identity performance.

Dr. Almjeld’s presentation is part of the Wilkin Chair series of events this year. Ron Tulley, Ph.D. (that's me, author of this blog), associate professor of English, is the 2012-13 Richard E. Wilkin Chair for the College of Liberal Arts. Dr. Tulley is devoting one year of study to the interdisciplinary exploration of a single topic, The Power of Portrayal — The Social Nature of (Re)Presenting a “Self:” Role Playing, Social Networking and Identity Formation in the Digital Age. For more information on this or any event, contact Tulley at or 419-434-4608.

Can the Web Make Us Insane?

(See link below comments for full article)

For my tastes, this author relies a bit too much on a straw man fallacy. You'll also notice major overlaps with Sherry Turkle's work (to the point of replication), but three key points/questions struck my interest:

1) Is overuse (abuse) of the Internet (however one defines overuse, i.e., time, subject matter, etc.) truly an addictive behavior in the vein (pun intended) of drugs, food, sex, etc.?

2) Building on the previous point, since so much of ALL of our lives is online, how do we separate addicts from "normal" users?

3) What types of longitudinal studies should we be designing to investigate patterns of use and abuse of the Web? It seems most of the information provided in this article is scant, anecdotal and qualitative. It also seems driven by a clear directed hypothesis, i.e., the Internet has deleterious effects on some, let's go prove that point. How might we go about designing a quality, longitudinal study that does more than catalog scary anecdotes?