Saturday, April 13, 2013

Kathleen Fitzpatrick Bio

Kathleen Fitzpatrick is probably one of the easiest people to look up on the internet out of all the scholars we’ve been reading this semester.  This has to do with how she is positioning herself within higher education—as someone who thinks about being an academic through new media.  Thus, my initial Google search of just Fitzpatrick’s name turned up multiple hits.  In addition to two academic pages (one for New York University where she is visiting research professor of English, and one from Pomona College, CA, where she usually works as professor of media studies), Google put up her webpage for PlannedObsolescence, her up-to-date Wikipedia page, her Twitter feed, two articles from the Chronicle of Higher Education, and her MediaCommons profile—from a site which she helped to co-found (more in a moment). 

So, Fitzpatrick is a really well-connected scholar.  Did I mention that she’s also the Director of Scholarly Communication for the Modern Language Association (the organization for language and literature scholars, for those of you who may be unfamiliar).  I’m not even entirely sure where to begin describing all of the things I was able to find about her.  The story as I have pieced it together goes like this (a lot of this comes from “An Academic Hopes to Take the MLA into theSocial Web” from the Chronicle of Higher Ed Feb 28, 2012—did I mention that the CHE named Fitzpatrick one of 12 innovators who are transforming campuses?).  Back in 2006, Fitzpatrick was frustrated trying to get her book published, since the process was so slow, and she commented on this in a blog post where she envisioned a publishing world in which scholars would present their work in online forums so that they could get feedback prior to publishing.  Many scholars thought this was a great idea.  I think the book must have been The Anxiety of Obsolescence (Vanderbilt 2006), since it was published that year, but more importantly, Fitzpatrick went on to co-found MediaCommons (which she discusses in the chapter--check out the URL) as a way of allowing scholars to present and comment on each other’s work before it’s published.  And that’s exactly what she did with her book Planned Obsolescence (NYU 2011) from which we read “Texts”: she released it on MediaCommons in 2009, received comments, revised more, and eventually published it in 2011. 

So now, Fitzpatrick is seen as being at the head of what some would call a revolution in scholarly publishing.  That’s also partly why the MLA asked her to be in charge of helping to set up MLA Commons (which I’ve been receiving emails about for a while now but didn’t know what it was), which will be a social platform for scholars to present their work/professional selves.  By the way, yes, her book does also appear in print (image from NYU Press website).

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