My Book, Officially Forthcoming with MIT Press

February 13, 2014 § 38 Comments

sagan trollsss

It is with great excitement, gratitude, and relief (all of the emotions really) that I can finally officially announce that my book on trolls (a millionth-degree revision of my PhD dissertation) will be published by The MIT Press in early 2015. 

Book abstract:

This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture chronicles the emergence and evolution of online trolling, a wildly popular behavioral practice predicated on meme creation, forum raiding, and general disruption. It focuses specifically on behaviors born of and associated with 4chan’s /b/ board, one of the Internet’s most infamous and active trolling hotspots.

Pulling from thousands of hours of participant observation, dozens of formal interviews with participating trolls, and a careful reconstruction of the history of online trolling, the book argues that the so-called troll problem is actually a culture problem. Not only do trolls fit comfortably within the contemporary American media landscape, they effortlessly replicate the most pervasive—and in many cases outright venerated—tropes in the Western tradition. Trolls may take these tropes to their furthest and most grotesque extremes, but at a very basic level, trolls’ actions are born of and fueled by culturally sanctioned impulses, immediately complicating the impulse to condemn trolls for their obscene and seemingly deviant behavior. These behaviors may well be obscene, but as this book illustrates, the most surprising thing about trolling is that it isn’t all that deviant. In fact, in ostensibly non-trolling contexts, similar behaviors are regarded as perfectly acceptable, if not desirable. Ultimately then, the book isn’t just about trolls. It’s about a culture in which trolls thrive.

This truly has been a long, weird road; for anyone interested in taking a trip down memory lane, here I am comparing my dissertation to The Human Centipede; here I am fretting about losing the ability to speak English during my dissertation defense; here I am smashing my head against the table post-deposit; here I am likening the process of writing a dissertation to The Shining; here I am dancing around the complex psycho-sexual relationship I have with my manuscript; here I am discussing my overall writing process and offering some SO YOU WANT TO WRITE A BOOK OR DISSERTATION tips. Good times!

About That About Section, Or, That One Time I Sort of Quit Academia

November 10, 2013 § 11 Comments

Take a quick peek at my “About” page, and you’ll notice a few significant changes to my bio. The first is my academic affiliation, the details of which I just finalized — I am now associated faculty in Sociology at Humboldt State University, which means I’ll be giving guest lectures in various Sociology courses as I await my course assignments for the 2014-2015 academic year. The second and much more significant development is that I’ve accepted a position as the Assistant Director of the Cultural Department for the Wiyot tribe, and will be responsible for a combination of research, community outreach, and grant management.

Had you asked me this time last year what I thought I’d be doing the following year, I can pretty much guarantee that I wouldn’t have suggested either option. In fact, neither would have been on my radar, with very good reason. I was on the academic job market; I was going to be a tenure track Professor (or at least Visiting Assistant Professor), because…just because. Because because. Because that’s what one does.

The following is an overview of how I got from there to here.

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