Wednesday, October 23, 2013


by J J Cohen

Eileen tipped me off to this project, and I love everything about it (especially that one of its originators "studies medieval art history at Northwestern University" -- but honestly, the whole thing is ultracool). And: Lauren Berlant!

Check out TAG. See why every brilliant thing has a medievalist somewhere in its mechanism.


Nathaniel M. Campbell said...

"We don't accept submissions. The game is tag. You should hide and we'll seek you out."

In other words: despite protestations of openness, this is really an exercise for the "in" crowd, since if you aren't known to the "in" crowd (and thus known to be someone they should tag), they won't accept your submission.

Jeffrey Cohen said...

Hi Nathan, you might want to read the linked materials more carefully before leaving a dismissive comment like that: TAG does not make any claims (so far as I can see) to be anything like an open access or open submission project. Or were you just grumpily saying that's what it should be, because that's what you want it to be, regardless of how the project has been framed by its creators? You want a game of tag in which everyone is "it" all the time? I'm not really sure that works, and I'm not sure it's fair for you to demand that from the project's creators. I'm very much looking forward, as an excluded onlooker myself, to how this particular and highly literary version of the game plays out.

Nathaniel M. Campbell said...

I apologize for an overhasty evaluation. I misunderstood that the PALFRY section, which "approaches the medieval world in the spirit of collaboration", is different from the TAG section.

(Part of the in-crowd/out-crowd dynamic that I've noticed at ITM and other post-medieval themed spaces is the jargon in which they swim. As much as I respect Eileen Joy, for example, I tried but soon gave up at reading her "Prelude" to Aranye Fradenburg's new book, as it remained opaque to my mind. The frustration is probably as much my own fault as anything else. But it's there nonetheless.)

Jeffrey Cohen said...

That's why it's so good that the blogiverse is so vast: if you don't find something that suits you -- if you don't want to read about Carolingian charters (or don't know enough Latin); or don't want to see how Foucault and Morton open ancient texts to new possibility (or don't care to read deeply in theory so that you can follow along) -- then there is plenty more out there. AND, best of all, when there is little you like, you can start your own forum and kindle your own community -- not necessarily open to all (some exclusions will always be inbuilt), but open to strangers, to new friends, new kinds of creation and belonging.

Construction (a form of affirmation) always trumps complaint (too easy, too lazy).

Nathaniel M. Campbell said...

"Construction (a form of affirmation) always trumps complaint (too easy, too lazy)."

Words I would do well to actually ponder! Despite my dis-ease in this neighborhood (so to speak), I feel both an obligation to try (in part because BABEL was so kind to help me present at K'zoo this year) and a shared goal, if not a shared methodology.

That is to say, a significant goal of ITM, BABEL, Punctum, et al. is to open up opportunities especially to scholars/academics who often find themselves on the outside of the given paradigm. Eileen's sheer enthusiasm for encouraging new/experimental scholarly work by anybody she meets, whether they're tenured or a graduate student or somewhere in between, is infectious. It is also beneficial for someone like me, who chose to leave grad school with a Master's so that his spouse could take a full-time position elsewhere. I still want to be a scholar, but the current paradigms of academia don't often look kindly on scholarly work produced by kids with Master's degrees. The one bright, shining exception on a hill that I have met is the enthusiasm that y'all have for us misfits. And for that enthusiasm and patience, I owe you thanks!

(Remind me of that debt the next time I start to kvetch!)

Eileen Joy said...

Thanks for your kind comments here, Nathaniel [even if you didn't like my Prelude to Frandenburg's new book, but don't dismiss the whole book as it comprises 5 authors, all of whom write in different styles]. punctum doesn't care, btw, and neither does BABEL, how many or which degrees anyone has. You just have to want to be part of a conversation. And yeah, I know you know that.