It’s been a slow year, which stems mainly from the fact that I have radically scaled back my blogging. In part it’s because I have been busier with other things, but in part it’s also because (seemingly with the sole exception of book events) it’s almost impossible to get an online discussion going anywhere but Twitter and Facebook. Our top post of the year came in late January, with my mockery of the infamous “ticking timebomb” scenario. Out of the top five, two were perennial favorites written long ago — Why Game of Thrones Sucks and an explanation of the Bible verse that says “he who will not work shall not eat” — while the remaining two were also on political themes — The Apocalypse is Happening Once a Week or So (on mass shootings) and On the Punch (about punching Nazis). My proudest post of the year, though, was probably Political Polarization in the Family.
Aside from me, Marika made the most contributions, mostly discussing pedagogy and course planning, along with a great list of academic writing tips and a reflection on her experience of boxing. Anthony made a triumphant return to blogging with a review of books on OOO and ecological theory. Jared Rodríguez contributed several posts, including one on racial profiling.
We only did one book event this year, on The Prince of This World, coordinated by Stephen Keating and featuring posts by Bruce Rosenstock, Linn Tonstad, Jared Rodríguez, Amaryah Armstrong, Marika Rose, and Dotan Leshem. I am grateful to Stephen and to all the participants for their engagement with my work.
Overall, I think that we are still doing the kind of work we have always done — just a little slower. Thank you to everyone for writing and reading. I can’t promise more content in the coming year, but I for one am committed to preserving what we have created in this space.
It was a slow year for AUFS, and I primarily blame myself. Between writing, translation, and new administrative duties, I had little energy left for blogging, and two waves of right-wing harrassment (for details of which you can look here, here, and here) have also made me more than a little gun-shy.
Yet we did some good work this year, most notably in the form of three book events: on Catherine Keller’s Cloud of the Impossible, S. Sayyid’s Recalling the Caliphate, and Mary-Jane Rubenstein’s Worlds Without End. Many thanks to Stephen Keating for taking up the burden of organizing these events. We also hosted an event on Foucault and neoliberalism, organized by Mark William Westmoreland. All of these events proved to be great discussions, with a mix of AUFS regulars and newcomers.
The top three posts this year, traffic-wise, were my dashed-off account of Why Game of Thrones Sucks, a Foucauldian account of cat photos, and my attempt to decipher Zizek’s writings on the refugee crisis. The success of the first frankly depresses me, because I think the post gives “phoning it in” a bad name — but Craig made some good points in comments.
Highlights from other authors include Marika Rose’s reflections on Cameron’s Christianity, Eric Daryl Meyer’s The Ineradicable Supercessionism of the Christian Imagination, Thomas Lynch’s AAR paper on climate change and apocalyptic, Steven Shakespeare’s Neoliberalism and the British Left: Hardworking, Aspirational, Racist, and Amaryah Shaye’s On Marked and Unmarked Theologies. The inestimable Dan Barber also provided a preview of some of his forthcoming work.
In the year to come, I anticipate that my “strategy of hibernation” will if anything become more pronounced. This year taught me that I no longer have the stomach for online controversy that I once did — and that blogging energy can and should be productively diverted to more enduring forms of writing. I am going to be experimenting with an ascetic blogging discipline of posting only about offline texts I am reading. Freeform opinionating will be limited to Facebook for the time being, and I will likely attempt to pull back there as well. My co-bloggers have all done great work — perhaps as I recede gradually into the background, they will find space to do even more.
Thank you all, for reading and writing.
This was a big year for wrapping up projects. Early on, Creepiness came out — and though I hadn’t done any actual work on it this year, it marked the conclusion of the pop culture project I’d been doing “on the side” (despite the fact that they were my most visible publications) since shortly after I finished my dissertation. I also completed (down to correcting proofs) a translation project that had occuppied me for around two years, Agamben’s The Use of Bodies, which is kind of the culmination of all the Agamben translating I’ve been doing over that same period.
Finally and most importantly, I completed the project that has “officially” been my next big thing since I defended: The Prince of This World, for which I have signed the contract and submitted my final text. In the course of developing my intuition that the devil theme from Politics of Redemption deserved its own study, I have taught three courses at three institutions, given multiple conference papers and invited lectures, written innumerable blog posts, and been in continual dialogue with many colleagues. I have been thinking about this project probably longer than I’ve ever thought about any one thing in my life. And now it’s found its final form and a good home.
Long-time readers will know that I’m too much of a workaholic to have completely cleared my decks. Over the course of the fall semester, as I was waiting for the gears of peer review to grind over my manuscript, Carlo Salzani and I gathered contributors for an edited volume tentatively entitled Agamben as Reader: A Guide to the Sources. We conceive it as a reference book with articles centered on Agamben’s relationship to his interlocutors, and we just submitted the proposal to a publisher this weekend. An edited volume is the one major form of academic publication I haven’t done yet, and I think this idea is a genuinely useful one — so there we go. Going over the chapters should keep me busy next fall. Good to have something pencilled in.
In the meantime, I will undoubtedly start work on the Trinity follow-up project I’ve been mentioning since mid-summer, which may take the form of a book on Athanasius. But for at least the next few weeks, I’m going to try to relax, read a couple books I’ve always meant to but never had time for, etc. Yesterday I managed to achieve literally nothing on net, so that was a helpful start. Plus I just subscribed to HBO Now.
In any case, if you ever wondered what it was like to have several projects that you’ve been working on for close to seven years all coming to a conclusion at around the same time — it’s weird. Good, but still weird.
While it was horrible for the world at large, 2014 was an amazing year for me personally. I rang in the New Year wandering the streets of Paris, and I’ll end it in The Girlfriend’s new apartment in Minneapolis, where she has secured a job that uses her recently-completed graduate degree. In between, I travelled more than I ever have in a single year, visiting great museums in Paris, New York, and London. I lived in San Francisco for the summer. I lectured at Harvard and Birkbeck. I wrote Creepiness and put together a co-authored essay collection with Colby Dickinson entitled Agamben’s Coming Philosophy (which was finally submitted to the publisher this morning). I got through a first draft of half my translation of Agamben’s Use of Bodies. I taught the primary source material for my devil project twice, once at Shimer and once at Chicago Theological Seminary. I expanded my teaching competency to include Islam. And of course, I watched a ton of Star Trek.
As I often do, I’ve tried to set things up to “clear the decks” by the end of the calendar year. So far, I’ve finished up all the writing I’ve promised for this year, and this week I’ll finish the grading for my CTS class and have the final faculty meetings for the semester. After that, it will be a matter of holiday obligations and getting ready for The Girlfriend’s move — and trying to find a couple hours a day to begin reconnecting with the translation, which has fallen by the wayside amid the end-of-semester rush.
My hope is that next year won’t be so frenetically busy. Teaching an extra class on top of my full-time load at Shimer was a challenge, and not something I’m likely to attempt in the near future. I have a few talks scheduled (all either on Creepiness or the devil) and have agreed to do a book review (on the devil) and an article (on Star Trek, since now I’m bereft of a pop culture project), but I’m mostly trying to leave myself free to complete my two big projects: the Agamben translation (manuscript due August 1) and the long-promised devil book. It seems doable, especially since I’m looking at another monastic summer (in Minneapolis this time), and may be able to arrange a monastic fall as well.
In any case, next year at this time, I should have the good fortune to be in utter listless despair, facing the yawning abyss of freedom. Maybe I can even go into workahol detox. “Lord, make me non-obsessive — but not yet!”
The year is not yet over, but we can add new notable posts that are written after this date. The past year was not as exciting as 2012, when (to speak only of the biggest highlight) Brandy dropped a series of bombs on the theology blogging world after AAR. (Brandy has since moved on to the greener pastures of Women in Theology, where she’s continued to produce ground-breaking work that deeply challenges the theological academy.)
There were some highlights, however. Continue reading “An und für sich in 2013: A Year in Review”
I don’t think there can be any question that the defining moment for AUFS this year was Brandy’s trilogy of posts on gender and theology (1, 2, 3), which led to a vast and fascinating discussion and prompted us to revise our comment policy. I have noticed some increase in women’s participation here, and I hope everyone will keep us accountable to our commitment to making this a more welcoming environment.
Brandy’s discussion was a rare occasion when traffic matched up closely with what we were most proud of — we had our single best traffic day, week, and month in November, and we appear to have gained a significant number of new readers as well, because December beat November’s record by far. If you look at our top posts, though, it appears that our blog is still dominated by our controversy with Radical Orthodoxy and our bemused attitude toward Object-Oriented Ontology (most notably the two guest posts from Alex Galloway). That is something I would hope to put behind us in the coming year. As we clarified after learning of Facebook gossip dismissing us as lightweights, we stand behind our published work on Radical Orthodoxy. As for OOO, I’m just not sure what more there is to say.
Another high point was our book event on Dan Barber’s excellent On Diaspora: Christianity, Religion, Secularity (Amazon: US, UK, Book Depository). His more recent post on anger is another personal favorite of mine. I also celebrate all of Beatrice’s posts this year, particularly in the last couple months, as well as Brad’s research agenda on “The Unruliness of Angelic Bodies”, for which someone should start up a Kickstarter.
A trend that sticks out to me looking back over the posts from last year is a clarification of our relationship to theology, as shown in Anthony’s post What’s Love Got to Do With It? and my post arguing that philosophy is to theology as eternal is to historical. This year was also a time of greater diversification as Christopher Rodkey’s sermons, Jeremy Ridenour’s reflections on clinical psychoanalysis, Josh K-sky’s movie posts all added much-appreciated variety to the blog.
Of course, nothing can compare to my post on MacGyver and neoliberalism, though I might be biased.
What do you think, faithful readers?
This was a banner year for AUFS. In terms of sheer numbers, we reached a million all-time views this summer, and our total number of views for this year alone are at nearly a half million. This year also saw our all-time most popular post, Anthony’s Hatred of the Poor is the True Cause of the UK Riots.
It was also a ridiculously good year in terms of publications. Three of our authors published books: Dan Barber’s On Diaspora, Brad Johnson’s The Characteristic Theology of Herman Melville, and Christopher Rodkey’s The Synaptic Gospel. In addition, Anthony’s translation of Laruelle’s Future Christ was released in the US, and he also presided over a very successful AAR session on After the Postsecular and the Postmodern, in which several AUFS authors participated.
We held three book events, over my Politics of Redemption, Jay Carter’s Race, and Ted Jennings’ Plato or Paul?. In addition, a reading group over William Gass’s Omensetter’s Luck is currently ongoing.
Finally, at the beginning of this year, Rodney Clapp, a columnist for The Christian Century, named AUFS as one of the best theology blogs. So it’s official now!
What were the highlights of 2011 for you, dear readers? Feel free to link to favorite posts.