Happy New Year, everyone!
More than any other new year in recent memory, I’m feeling really optimistic and positive about this one. A big part of the reason has to do with Threadbared and the positive ripple effect of passion, energy, and intellectual curiosity it has produced in my life. When we began 3 1/2 years ago, I expected Threadbared to be a collaborative project of two. Today, I know that it is much larger project involving me and Mimi but also tens of thousands of other readers and bloggers – some of whom we’ve gotten to know fairly well via emails, tweets, and blog and Facebook comments. Many more others have interacted with Threadbared offline – in academic journal articles, course syllabi, lectures, and casual conversations.
In 2010, I counted at least a dozen instances where I was in a conversation with someone who mentioned that they use Threadbared in their classes (on topics having to do with art, new media, feminism, and fashion). I learned from friends that a shopgirl at the Opening Ceremony in Soho was a Threadbared reader; another friend told me she met a stockist at Bloomingdale’s who also read Threadbared regularly. Several more tweeted to tell us that their students or they themselves were writing about or referencing Threadbared in their dissertations and master’s theses. Yesterday in my regular perusal of the fashion/culture/arts/lady blogosphere, I came across something of a mash note from Anne Fitzpatrick, web editor for Worn Journal, who thanks us for our “intelligent, eloquent, and thorough” posts. I thanked her profusely for writing such kind words but really the kindness is in the reading and not the writing.
The breadth of our readers – from our colleagues in academia to those working in the fashion industry and many more in between or nearby – is absolutely gratifying. Academics, especially junior-ranked academics, do not expect more than a small handful of readers (not including friends and family) to read their writings. Even books by someone like Lauren Berlant, a highly respected and established academic (whose work on intimate publics I adore) are not destined to be bestsellers. So the size of our readership – while quite modest in the blogosphere – is overwhelming and humbling to me. Our posts tend to be long and theoretical and yet you, dear readers, have taken the time to read, comment, repost, link, and like them.
I’ve been thinking about this for the past couple of weeks – I guess the holidays can make anyone feel more reflective – but I finally sat down to write this because of an inspired and inspiring open letter I just read from Anne Hays to the editors of the New Yorker in which she promises to “return every issue that contains fewer than five women writers.” She goes on to point out:
Women are not actually a minority group, nor is there a shortage, in the world, of female writers. The publishing industry is dominated by female editors, and it would be too obvious for me to point out to you that the New Yorker masthead has a fair number of female editors in its ranks. And so we are baffled, outraged, saddened, and a bit depressed that, though some would claim our country’s sexism problem ended in the late 60’s, the most prominent and respected literary magazine in the country can’t find space in its pages for women’s voices in the year 2011.
Hays is right – there isn’t a shortage of women and/or feminist writers, readers, thinkers, and linkers. I know this well because of Threadbared and because of the amazing creatively intellectual and intellectually creative community Threadbared has introduced me to. A belief that undergirds everything I write lately is the revolutionary potential – though woefully unacknowledged in many academic circles and unrealized in a large portion of the blogosphere – of new media spaces and practices for the upward and lateral diffusion of antiracist, feminist, queer, and anti-xenophobic thinking. Here’s to more public acts of engaged scholarship in 2011! And again, Thank You.