Welcome to Betray the Kludge. I got the idea for this blog a couple of years ago when I read Todd Presner’s chapter, “Critical Theory and the Mangle of Digital Humanities,” in Between Humanities and the Digital (MIT Press, 2015). I had been wanting to write a blog about failure and its minor forms — missteps, mistakes, wrong or bad ideas — for awhile, and I was struck by a question Presner asks of digital humanities projects: “Who, after all, wants to betray the kludge at the core of their practice?” (59). Kludge is a term used in programming and engineering circles to describe a quick and dirty but functional fix. Betraying the kludge is about revealing the quick and the dirty behind the function.
The idea for this blog is that I betray my kludge. The blog will house a record of my missteps, mistakes, and wrong or bad ideas. Presner writes that we usually encounter digital humanities projects in their “un-mangled” state; in contrast, this blog documents the mangling. It’s about process, recording the mess I make of things doing my work as an academic. It will include material related to my research in contemporary literature, cultural studies, American studies, and the digital humanities; to my teaching in those fields and more; and to whatever else I find myself mixed up — and messing up — in.
It’s taken me awhile to come around to the idea for this blog because, while I’ve technically had a blog for several years, and while I enjoy reading other people’s academic blogs, I’m not great at blogging. I never know what to write, and I tend to abandon any posts I start to write halfway through due to my own suffocating form of perfectionism. Additionally, I’m not sure anyone reads academic blogs anymore anyway, or, if they do, that they will want to read this one.
But what better fodder for this particular blog than my own many anxieties about the form? Plus, I’m currently trying to finish a book, and I’m hoping this blog will help me feel less like I’m writing into a bottomless void. So here we are.
About Me | Lindsay Thomas
I am an assistant professor of English at the University of Miami. I research and teach at the intersections of contemporary literature, cultural and media studies, and the digital humanities. I’m currently working on a book manuscript on national security and fiction as a mode of knowledge production. I’m also a co-director of WhatEvery1Says.
Follow me on Twitter @lindsaycthomas. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org