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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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Adolescents and Teens Online Bibiliography
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.

March 31, 2006

A Need to Know: The Clandestine History of a CIA Family

I've been waiting for this book for well over a year. At NCA 2004 I attended a presentation panel where Harold L. (Bud) Goodall Jr. talked about his auto/ethnographic work looking into his fathers life as a CIA official, a life he didn't know about until after his fathers death. The book arrived in Wednesday's post, so far I am through the first two chapters and am having trouble putting it down.

My father died, either in Virginia or Maryland, at the age of 53 on the night of March 12, 1976. My mother told me that he died at home in his bed in Hagerstown, Maryland, but the Social Security Death Index indicates that he was pronounced dead in Virginia. The reason for his death was a mystery.

My mother said that she requested an autopsy because three days before he died he had been told that he was run down due to a bad cold and just needed some bed rest. He was given "a shot of something" and sent home. A doctor he saw at the Veteran's Administration Hospital supposedly gave him this diagnosis and the shot, but my mother couldn't recall the name of the doctor and the hospital records do not show that he had any appointments in March.

Nor did I ever see a report of an autopsy. One year later my mother told me that she had been informed--by "the government"--that he had died of "multiple bleeding abscesses on both lungs." This was about the time of a news report that Legionnaire's Disease was responsible for the deaths of several men, all veterans, in Philadelphia. My mother claimed that "the government" now believed that my father, too, had died of Legionnaire's Disease.

That may or may not be true.

My mother never showed me the letter "from the government" that supposedly provided her with this information. She told me she had "thrown it away." I have no doubt that she had done precisely that, if, in fact, there had ever been a letter in the first place. But by then, by March of 1977, I was so disillusioned with the idea of truth in relation to my father's life, much less his death, that I didn't pursue it.

He had led a secret life. And even in death, she kept his secrets.

For those of us born into families where the stories told to us contain more fiction than fact, Goodall's application of academic concepts such as Barthes' "presence of an absence" ring painfully true. I can say that this week I have spent a fair amount of my drive time thinking about my family's "narrative inheritance," the creative fiction that hides much more than it reveals.

I'm sure I will have more posts on this work when I finish reading it.

Check out:

Other posts that refer to A Need to Know or Harold L. (Bud) Goodall Jr.:

Writing the New Ethnography
Historical Ethnography, NCA Pre-Conference
Ethnography Division of the National Communication Association
NCA First Day of the Conference

Posted by prolurkr at March 31, 2006 06:10 PM

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