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Links to my published articles online
List of Publications with Full Citations

Adolescent Diary Weblogs and the Unseen Audience

Conversations in the Blogosphere: An Analysis "from the Bottom Up". Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS-38) Best Paper Nominee.

Weblogs as a bridging genre

Bridging the Gap: A Genre Analysis of Weblogs. Winner of the 2004 EduBlog Awards as best paper.

Common Visual Design Elements of Weblogs

Women and Children Last: The Discursive Construction of Weblogs

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The Performativity of Naming: Adolescent Weblog Names as Metaphor

Buxom Girls and Boys in Baseball Hats: Adolescent Avatars in Graphical Chat Spaces

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Last updated July 8, 2005.

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Last Updated November 22, 2005.

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My Book2
New books are added but reading status is rarely accurate.

April 24, 2004

On the Retirement of Gilbert Bloom Ph.D., Department of Theatre and Dance, College of Fine Arts, Ball State University

Later today I will be attending the retirement reception for Gilbert Bloom Ph.D. faculty member of the Department of Theatre and Dance, College of Fine Arts, Ball State University. Which was formerly the Theatre Department of the Speech and Theatre School back in the 1980's when I was an undergradute student in the department.

The organizing committee asked students to contribute reminiscences for addition to a scrapbook to be given to him at the reception. I contributed the following letter and thought I would post it here for the illumination of the internet audience.

Congratulations on your retirement Dr. Bloom, your insight and generosity have touched many of us.

Your imminent retirement has encouraged me write a note expressing my gratitude to you for all that you taught me in Theatre History classes during my time at Ball State University. It is always amusing to look back and see the patterns of the roads that lead us to where we are in life at this moment. One very large twist in my personal path would be that had I been asked immediately upon graduation, which of my classes I was least likely to use in my post-university life sadly I would have said Theatre History. For years, that statement would have seemed to be true. Nevertheless, things change and now, had I made that statement, I would be forced to recant and say that the Theatre History series is among the most useful classes I have taken in my student academic career.

How did the reality of the impact of your teaching become apparently to me? Over time of course. After graduation from Ball State, I made the decision not to pursue a career in the theatre and went to work in the nine-to-five world. Four years later, I returned to university to earn a graduate degree in Public Administration (MPA) with a concentration in Human Resources (HR), a field that puts one in daily contact with the dramatic but with few overt links to theatre performance. After nine years working in a variety of HR roles - four companies in three states with far too many lay-offs, terminations, and plant closings - I again returned to university to work toward a Masters in Information Science (MIS). My original plan was that with an MIS in hand I would move from management of the human capital of a company to management of the enterprise computer systems used by the hands-on HR personnel. Sometimes good original plans are replaced by far better unforeseen ones.

While in my MIS program, I began to see that the patterns of interaction I had been watching in online communication for the last 3-5 years were of interest to departmental faculty and students when I discussed my ideas in classes. I also found that my specific interest in adolescents online was an area that was under represented in the literature. So a new plan was born, I applied for and was accepted into the Doctoral Program at the Indiana University School of Library and Information Science and will present my qualifying paper later this year with hopes of defending my dissertation during calendar year 2006. I give you the last two paragraphs in answer to the ago old question among friends, "What have you been up to since I saw you last?" to illustrate how the roads of my life have come full circle.

As a doctoral student, my research has focused on Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) in particular, aspects of performativity found in adolescent peer cultures online. Now I routinely discuss ideas the germ of which lies in facts I first encountered in Theatre History classes. Such as, the comparison of the audible entrance and exist tones of chatroom moderators to the sounds of deus ex machine as the gods enter and exit the stage, or the analogies between Shakespearean actor's performances in female roles on stage to instances of cross-dressing found in online communities, which are usually enacted by young heterosexual males presenting themselves as females. One idea that is finding its way into my current research relates to the function of comments found on blog webpages as being akin to a Greek Chorus presenting back-story to the audience and often applauding or criticizing the personal performance narrative's hero (the blog author themselves) for the his or her comments and actions. These points show that the reality of the circle that links back to what you taught me in Theatre History has become apparent to me and to others around me. I often hear "You would think of that, you were a Theatre major" said teasingly by the computer science types I now work along side.

I would like to add that beyond what I learned in the classroom, attempting to meet the requirements of the classes, specifically the tests, provided me with some of the best camaraderie, and stories of such, that I have experienced in my lifetime. The fellowship of all-nighters spent studying at Big Wheel with Ray Chambers, Kathy (Pinneker) Chambers, Tim Casto, Rocky Hart, Jason Weber, and a varying supporting cast where all involved were drinking copious amounts of coffee to stay awake, often to the point of giving us startlingly intense headaches.

During those sessions, we quizzed each other on such subjects as the relevant figures from the Golden Age of Spanish Theatre or from the Elizabethan Period ultimately trying to cram as many facts into our brains as possible in the shortest amount of time. Yes, it is clear to me that this was not that best of study tactics, sadly how to study was something I would not learn until my first masters program. But those sessions created my first, dare I say best, experiences of a group pulling together to meet a shared goal and finding ways to do it amiably, and more often then not, with a fair amount of success. No doubt, more sleep would have helped all our grades but what fun would that have been.

Finally, no letter to you would be complete without recognition of your positive example of productive ways to teach a required class to undergraduate students, many of whom would rather be anywhere else but Theatre History classes. As an instructor who teaches required Speech Communication classes, I have drawn on your example when faced with trying times in the classroom and these memories help me keep my sense of humor about me when class sessions do not go as I had planned.

As I write this, I am reminded of the time in roughly 1982 when you entered the classroom to present our Theatre History III group with a scheduled exam. Silently the entire class, save me, rose and walked out of the room. You gave me a questioning look and I shrugged, nary was a word exchanged between us. In what felt like minutes, but no doubt was only seconds, one of the students returned and announced that the entire class was boycotting the test since I would be receiving answers to questions via my braces headgear, one of those lovely sets called "full headgear" that went over the top of the head and around the neck as well - not among my favorite looks to be sure. I will never forget my personal discomfort at being singled out for the joke, which was washed away by your warm peals of laughter reminding me that lighthearted humor is a good thing. You waved the students back into the classroom from SMUT (Strother Memorial Underground Theatre) and continued with the exam, even giving me a wink as you handed me test papers.

In my subsequent classes I have, of course, crossed trails with faculty whose rigidity and formalism would not have permitted them to enjoy such a moment in their classes should it have occurred. Your ability to take your students personalities in stride is admirable and is a characteristic I strive to exemplify in my own teaching.

In closing, I would like to commend you for your years of service to your students at Ball State. I would also like to personally thank you for your patience and grace in teaching students who, like I, did not grasp the impact your teaching would have on their lives and learning during their quarters/semesters of work in your classes. I am pleased that I have been able to see these disparate roads pulled full circle including sections paved with gold that were classes I took with you during my time at Ball State.

May your retirement prove enjoyable and productive in whatever you undertake.

With best wishes and sincerest thanks.

Posted by prolurkr at April 24, 2004 11:59 AM

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