Friday, August 29, 2014

Hello, Connected Courses!

My name’s Bill Benzon and I’m an independent scholar. I’ve decided to get back into teaching with a course/workshop on graffiti which I’m tentatively calling The Academy of the Wall.

I’ve been online since before the web and have developed a fairly sophisticated online ecosystem. Oh, the technology is all OTS (off the shelf), nothing fancy. But I’ve been working it for a while and have a feel for how things flow. When there’s a disturbance in the force, I feel it–; everyone does, but not every one is mindful of what they sense.

I’ve been blogging here at New Savanna since April of 2010 and hit my 2500th post on 14 July, when I posted a rough guide to New Savanna. I’ve also made it more directly accessible as a page linked at the top of the blog.

You might be particularly interested in two posts in which I tell about my publishing history:
The first starts back in the previous millennium with my first academic publications, runs though an experiment in microfiche publication undertaken by the Association for Computational Linguistics, and ends up with a refereed journal started online, PsyArt: An Online Journal for the Psychological Study of the Arts, where I’ve published a number of papers. The second is about listserves and the blogosphere.

My experience at The Valve was crucial. Though it’s still online, it’s no longer functioning; it’s simply a repository. The Valve was a group blog that centered on literature and literary culture. There were a dozen or so writers with publication privileges at any one time, though the roster changed from time to time. Some of the discussions got quite lively, and some of those fell into hopeless dispute. On the whole it was a floating seminar in literature and culture studies with a wide variety of participants of varying backgrounds.

Here’s a passage about those conversations that’s worth keeping in mind:
...much of the discussion took place between people of very different intellectual backgrounds and experience, with only a few of us being card-carrying academics—and, of course, though I may carry a card, I do so only as an independent scholar not as a member of this or that faculty. That makes for an interesting and often challenging environment, as it’s very difficult to carry the day by pulling rank. In that environment the only rank you have is what people give you. Institutions don’t much matter, unless of course, you grant them status.
I look forward to chatting and learning with you in the next few months.


  1. Hi there, Bill! So happy to see you in the mix. A "floating seminar" is a good description.

  2. Glad to be here, Howard. Should be a good ride.