Not There, Yet Here

 

“…to know that writing compensates for nothing, sublimates nothing, that it is precisely there where you are not– this is the beginning of writing.”

―Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments

 

 

Welcome to MLA Commons. This is the first post I make on Far Away, yet Close, a site I thought I would set up to try to encourage or at least document some ideas/discussion on how those of us that for various reasons weren’t able to make it physically to the conference can still participate.

It is a cliché to say that online mobile communications are changing nearly every aspect of culture. Following the #MLA13 backchannel provides an (always partial) glimpse of what the conference is like. The distinction between those here/there blurs: “are you here?”

How can the MLA conference engage with remote participants? Can it be avoided? Should it?

I personally believe that remote participation and online engagement is not a challenge to conferences but a perfect ally. I know some people disagree. It is true that online communications are disrupting the way academic events are taking place. I believe there are some good things about that disruption.

As attitudes to and levels of social media adoption vary wildly, it can be said that the academic backchannel is still relativelly a minority phenomenon, and those who choose to engage in the conference backchannel without being physically there might be an even smaller group. Nevertheless, no one can deny that (not only in the case of the MLA) remote engagement and participation with/in academic events via Twitter is rapidly increasing.

I just wanted to leave these quick notes as a my pinch of salt.

Greetings from London!

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