The Myth of Audience

Until this moment, I haven’t updated this blog since before Groundhog Day. This, of course, means that if I ever had an audience–Rachael, my sister, some high school kid from Prairie du Chien–it is now gone.

But I am going to do something that I tell my students to do when they write: imagine an audience. It’s the only way that I can convince myself to make another post. Of course, I never quite knew who to imagine as a blog audience. Someday, maybe I’ll elevate myself to a comfortably obscure position of prominence enjoyed by some of my favorite bloggers–Jim Romenesko and Jay Rosen. In certain circles, of course, they are widely read and widely known (Romenesko, especially). But if I were to ask normal people, like, say, my sisters, they wouldn’t even recognize the name. That would be a perfectly fine level of recognition.

I tell my students that my ideal reader is my dad. This is not in any way meant as disrespect for my mother, but in some ways my mother, who holds a PhD and works in University administration, is too specialized. My father is an attorney, which to me represents a certain level of education and sophistication, but not necessarily specialization. And he also reads books. For fun. Which is something I personally think should be a requirement for active intelligent citizenship. All of my friends read books (save one, and I’m working on that). My reader, I should hope, has a general awareness of and interest in the world. That’s who I’m thinking of when I write–media criticism, architectural reporting, blog entries. Not exactly my dad, but the archetype that my dad represents.

So, imagining that I have an audience that cares about me at all, I will say this, as a follow-up to my last couple of posts in the winter: I have been accepted into the PhD program in Media Studies at Rutgers University. I’m particularly excited to work with David Greenberg, whose book, Nixon’s Shadow, I’m currently reading. Greenberg also writes the History Lesson column on Slate. Instead of linking to that though, I thought it would be more appropriate to link to another essay he wrote for Slate, in which he discusses the question of academics’ audiences.

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2 comments

  1. Anonymous · ·

    Beth and I are most definitely NOT normal. 😉

  2. don’t worry Kev, your Audience is alive and kicken!

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