My Apologies. New Directions.

For some time, I have been absent. Here and elsewhere. Simply gone. I would like to take the time to offer updates. To ponder. To extend direction, project possibility here. For this blog space.

I just returned home after a long, productive, and generally fun National Communication Association convention. Indeed, when I return from mass conferences/conventions in my discipline, I am energized and excited to move things forward in some fashion. One such space in which I want to engage and focus on is here: this blog o’ mine.

The end of the master thesis brought certain uncertainty and emotional instability as I clamored to take control of my grounding and to understand myself, again, as one not entirely bound to academia or to critical analysis–an undertaking in and of itself. Draining sure. Uplifting, hardly ever. Possibility never is an easy task. These current disconnected thoughts speak to my very state currently.

In short, I return from NCA with an intent to focus my autoethnographic and performative writing skills and I intend to use this space as a site for experimentation and exploration. As with any such method, this is a dangerous and exploratory method, which places me at the helm of instability–a positionality that begs liberation and attention. Quite contrary to the charges of narcissism (of which I do not deny in my life) and navel-gazing (of which I vehemently oppose), I find and position the potential for autoethnography and performative writing as painful and healing. As inherently queer methods for global and local inquiry. I invite, actively, community participation in my dialogue, even as this blog links to other sites–I do read and respond to all such comments. One final note as I continue forward–not all writing here will be of this ilk. Indeed, I will also seek to simply offer, myself. My me. Updates and all. In fact, and in brief, I offer two brief updates that are noteworthy as they connect to prior posts:

I remain smoke-free.
I approach 100 pounds released.
I am still vegan. Loose at times–but who isn’t… loose? ZING!

I will begin here.

I went to NCA, without much in the way of presenting material. Rather, I attended to learn and to grow. Also, to network. In my current quest for PhD schools I found myself at the crux of two amazing opportunities with faculty awaiting my arrival. Enthusiastic reception was met throughout–faculty, graduate students, and alumni alike. The decision comes down to two schools: Southern Illinois University, Carbondale AND University of South Florida.

To put it explicitly, SIUC has my current vote. But this vote shifts constantly. To live in Illinois. A turn never fully realized nor imagined up till… now. And it becomes increasingly more real day by day.

This morning, I ran. I thought. As I approached mile 4 or 5, I found my mind adrift. Back and forth I focused on the ins and outs, the ups and downs, the optimism and pessimism of each institution. While I will be well off at either program, I lean to SIUC as the place where I will experience the most productive change and personal development.

Some thoughts about SIUC that appear to outweigh USF at this moment: queer performance; queer and critical pedagogy; critical ethnography; whiteness studies; class focus; a performance space; a forest for a backyard. cheap living.

And what a difference from Long Beach–something I have wanted for some time. A drastic change away from here.

I need to continue debating while I complete my applications and statements.

The other issue is that of funding. This matter will be address in the coming days.

For now, I remain focused on methods and fit. And SIUC has my vote.

In other news, I returned home from NCA and had a response from WSCA about two of my proposals. My competitive paper was selected for presentation along with my paper panel on reflexive ethnography. This is grand news as I submit another piece to Text and Performance Quarterly.

I am going to lay down now.


About Benny

My name is Benny LeMaster. I am an academic, activist, and artist. I research questions of identity, culture, and representation. I am interested in exploring ways to relate to one another in critically affirming ways. In terms of identity, I identify as queer, trans, mixed-race Asian/white, fat, and, frankly, fabulous. Let's talk!
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