Mostly (not) on McSweeney's!

A blog for my academic ideas, more or less.

TWO SECTIONS (methodological epiphany)

McSweeney’s considered as:

1) The Object.

2) The Institution.

Everything else comes from this.

Filed under: research questions

PhD To-Do List

Write proposal for continuity and change conference in Berlin (McSweeney’s as defined by change; the cannibalization of the American periodical tradition; subcultural identity defined against unstable cultural object) – for February 28 2009.

Fill out the chapter outline I worked on for Josh a couple of weeks ago. Teaching got into my head a bit and I got distracted, hence putting something like this online. I have a clear enough idea of my first three chapters, basing them on the presentation I gave at GLITS recently. I aim to have another three after that, but right now they’re generally just brief notes, whereas for my other two I can plot out sections – complete a new version for February 20 2009.

Read more postmodern theory, esp. Jameson and anything on metaculture – ongoing (but focus on in BL later today/tomorrow).

Work on a chapter draft of my synchronic analysis of McSweeney’s 1. I’ve written a lot of stuff in the year and a half I’ve been doing my PhD, but most of it is bunk by now. My recent reassessment of my thinking has meant I’ve not got anything solid that I think is good enough. So I need to start getting that down, probably. Longer deadline for this as I intend it to be something proper – should be in excess of 10,000 words, definitely – for March 27 2009.

Filed under: research questions, ,

Scribbled Attempt at a Research Mind Map

View large if desired.

Filed under: mcsweeneys, research questions,

On the McSweeney’s Website, Questions

One aspect of my thesis that I’ve been thinking a lot about, without actually writing anything down, is the McSweeney’s website (Is this possibly because of the difficulty of using it in a possessive noun phrase? How should that appear? McSweeney’s’s website? McSweeney’s’ website? Or just McSweeney’s website? I can, and do, write around this problem a lot of the time; there’s nothing wrong with being challenged to come up with a new expression. It’s slightly inconvenient, is all it is).

Their website is a curious thing for my research. I need to find a way to investigate it in its own right, but still relating it to the journal. Obviously. My work on the journal is about forms, is about content. One way of approaching the website is to replicate this approach, to try looking at with the same tools, the same types of questions.

What sort of tradition does the McSweeney’s website enter into? Has it spawned imitators? Does the design of the website follow the design of the journal? Is this transference of print > online a pattern that other periodicals have followed? In a semiotics of websites, what does it symbolise to maintain such a pared-down aesthetic?

What types of content did it originally publish? Is there even a way to investigate this? Will they have an archive? Is it archived in the Wayback Machine? Is the Wayback Machine so comprehensive? How do they choose what to archive? How has the popularity of the website changed what is published in the journal? Has the type of content published online changed?

Who reads the McSweeney’s website? Does everyone who reads the website read the journal? Does everyone who reads the journal read the website? What relationship is there between the website and the journal? What sort of cultural status does the website have compared to the journal? How can I assess this? Is the Technorati ranking of sites that repost McSweeney’s content an accurate judge of popularity, or a useful but limited perspective?

Hm, I like asking myself questions. Tomorrow/later I might try and answer some of them. I came onto the blog to try and do a quick analysis of the website, but that involves a lot more methodological consideration than I realised. But there is value in doing an impressionistic sketch, often where my best ideas come from. TBC!

Filed under: mcsweeneys, research questions, , , ,

About Me:

My name is Kevin O'Neill and I am in the fifth year of a part-time PhD in the English Department of Goldsmiths, London, UK. I used to teach undergrad classes there (now: not, because there are other PhD students who need teaching experience). I work (most of the time) in the Oxfam shop in Dalston because few people get paid to do humanities PhDs.

My research centres around the literary journal McSweeney's. My interest is developing into what McSweeney's tells us about two separate (but I guess related) fields: 1) literary institutions 2) American cultural production, more broadly. This blog was initially about my PhD but is now a more general thinking space.

See right for my flickr/twitter/delicious feeds, then below for other versions of me.

Email is looceefir on gmail.

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