Palimpsests

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Traces of Signs Past

In the late 2000s, I co-wrote (and edited) a group blog with American literature and critical theory students at The George Washington University. Titled You Made Me Theorize, this blog allowed my students to toy with basic HTML while using the interactive and informal weblog genre to test nascent arguments and to apply course concepts to any number of cultural concerns. You Made Me Theorize was an ever-shifting enterprise, one that morphed and evolved nearly daily, depending on who was handling the controls.

Eventually, these students graduated and moved on to bigger and better things. Likewise, I eventually lost my adjunct appointment in the GW English department because that is what happens to so many adjuncts. My promise to my students in those long-ago days was that once they had permission to blog on You Made Me Theorize, they could always do so, just as long as they had the ability to log into their accounts. That promise remains to this day. Maybe, at some unannounced time, the blog will be updated again. Maybe not. Maybe the blog will forever stay as it is, capturing the wonderful and interesting work of a small group of very smart undergraduate students in the (sort of) early days of web-based writing.

phonetic spelling of the word erasure

For my part, I eventually lost my username and password for You Made Me Theorize, so I am unable to make any changes to it at all. The current state of it is a bit embarrassing—my bio is out of date, the marginal items seem to have disappeared, and one of the top posts reflects a moment in time when trash talking Tim Tebow seemed like a necessary thing to do (has that time passed yet?). All of this says nothing about the blog’s backend, which I know is a mess of empty settings and broken widgets.

Still, I cannot let this project go. I am hoping that this humble webpage will establish a long-lasting link to You Made Me Theorize that might increase the possibility that my former students will, in their wanderings around the Internet, stumble upon it again. We will see.

One last thing: the words on You Made Me Theorize were written well over a decade ago by students who were, essentially, doing their homework. No one should be judged in any way based on work that they completed under those circumstances so many years in the past. Having taught these students, I know them to be excellent people who worked hard and who took their studies seriously. If you happen to cross their paths in the present, you should take them seriously, too.

Joseph P. Fisher, Spring 2018