Squirrels Stories

May 17, 2015 | Comments Off on Squirrels Stories

A filmmaker I know created an audio project about sharing difficult stories, and I thought I would post it here as her ideas behind the project connect well to our class themes. I wouldn’t say this is oversharing per say, but they certainly involve candor and breaking taboos around speaking about the body and other difficult subjects.

ABOUT: A linguist said “squirrels” is the hardest word in the English language to say. Squirrels Stories are audio portraits told in the first person about things that are hard to talk about.

The objective of Squirrels Stories is to use the first hand story to help us all walk in other people’s shoes, and to understand and appreciate the whole world we live in.  These stories are beneficial to those who listen as well as those who tell.



Section Summary Draft

May 12, 2015 | Comments Off on Section Summary Draft

Here is a draft of one of the Anthology section summaries.  It is looking good and might be a helpful model for others.–CH


Nicola Certo, Liz Foley and Kat Vecchio

 Each public disclosure of a private reality becomes something of a magnet that can attract others with a similar frame of reference; thus each public disclosure…serves as a dismantling tool against the illusion of ONE-TRIBE NATION; it lifts the curtains for a brief peek and reveals the probable existence of literally millions of tribes.

–David Wojnarowicz

 Each of these three projects examines the means by which a group of people have publicly disclosed a historically stigmatized sexual identity and the implications of that form of disclosure, both for the authors of the message and the audience that receives it. Whether the disclosers are post-Stonewall gay and lesbian artists writing memoirs that are explicit about their sexual lives, ordinary queer people using social media as tools to facilitate and amplify their comings-out, or polyamorists using mainstream media outlets to combat misunderstandings about their sexual practices and ethics, the goal in each case is to claim public space and visibility for identities that were formerly invisible or visible only in a negative light.


In “[title TBD],” Liz Foley traces a tradition among queer memoirists of choosing autobiographical forms that disrupt conventional narrative. Her argument considers the connections between narrative and self-construction and asks whether anti-narrative techniques can nonetheless produce effects of narrative satisfaction in both queer and general readerships. In “Isn’t it Too Much for YouTube?,” Nicola Certo explores the recent phenomenon of posting coming-out videos on YouTube. Using the case of the Rhodes brothers as a starting point, he raises questions as to whether the coming-out process, once seen as an act of personal liberation that simultaneously increased the visibility of a larger group, has now reached a historical stage at which it can be used for careerist or narcissistic ends. And in “The Use of Candor by Polyamorists to Create Understanding and Empathy with Outsiders,” Kat Vecchio’s focus is on polyamorists’ efforts to use mainstream media platforms to speak candidly about their multiple concurrent romantic relationships, with the goals of increasing polyamory’s visibility and combatting misperceptions about the polyamorist community on the part of the general public.





HIPPA Violations

May 10, 2015 | Comments Off on HIPPA Violations


Dear All,
To follow up on our discussion in class re. a title for our anthology. We decided that we would go with “Persona” unless there were alternatives.

So if you could post any alternative suggestions in the comments below, we can set up an electronic vote this week. Alternative title suggestions need to be submitted by Monday night. Best, Jason and Carrie

Title for our Anthology: Some Pre-Class Brainstorming

May 4, 2015 | Comments Off on Title for our Anthology: Some Pre-Class Brainstorming

Working TOC for Shared Anthology for MALS 70000 (Oversharing and Inventing the Self)


Possible Titles


Possible Subtitles


Private Selves, Public Worlds

Shared Selves, Private Selves



Selfhood from the Inside Out


An Anthology on Selves Invented and Revealed

An Anthology on Self Invention and Revelation

An Anthology on Self Expression and Experiment



Sections / Menu Names (subject to revision)

Narrative and Identity

Private Bodies, Public Bodies

Affirming Neurodiversity


Feminist Approaches

Adolescents, Youth. and Social Media

Breaking Taboos

Social Identities

Science and Society


Anthology Day

May 4, 2015 | Comments Off on Anthology Day

Hi All,
I placed the working abstracts for Anthology Day into the Dropbox…here it is in pdf form.

I will print out enough copies for everyone tomorrow….

See you tomorrow!  Carrie


Abstracts for Anthology Day


April 24, 2015 | Comments Off on Essays

If you are due to have your paper workshopped, you need to place it in the Dropbox…now.  Overdue!

Room for our shared session

April 22, 2015 | Comments Off on Room for our shared session

On May 5th, we will be joining Professor Tougaw’s class for “Anthology Day:”

Room 6496 from 6:30p, – 8:30pm.



Workshop is beginning!  I see three drafts in the dropbox–expecting the fourth this morning at the latest.

By Monday afternoon or evening, everyone needs to have written a brief response to the draft.  It does not have to be long–maybe a page or slightly less than a page.  You do not have to write full sentences; point form will do.  But just make sure your communication is clear.

Follow this template:

1.  Summarize the argument of the draft in a sentence or two.

2.  State what you think works well about the paper.

3.  Write a sentence or two evaluating the kind of evidence and argument the paper offers; is the paper effective in its argumentation?

4.  What suggestions do you have for improving the paper?

5.  Do you have suggestions for further reading/ resources?  If you have pdfs of readings handy, feel free to upload them into the workshop folder.

One more Heti-related post

April 15, 2015 | Comments Off on One more Heti-related post

While you are reading the interviews with Heti, you can listen to this Heti-inspired song. (I also recommend you check out this entire album. It is great.)




Sheila Heti interview; Canadian vs. U.S. editions

April 15, 2015 | Comments Off on Sheila Heti interview; Canadian vs. U.S. editions

I mentioned in class last night an interview where Sheila Heti talks about the differences in the Canadian and U.S. editions of How Should a Person Be?  It was published in The Millions back in 2012, which is right around when the book came out in the United States.  I think it sheds an interesting light on the reception of the book even prior to its publication.



Should I Go to Grad School: An Interview with Sheila Heti

April 14, 2015 | Comments Off on Should I Go to Grad School: An Interview with Sheila Heti

The following is an excerpt from the anthology “Should I Go to Grad School: An Interview with Sheila Heti. This was published by Bloomsbury on May 5, 2014.



Workshop scheduling

April 14, 2015 | Comments Off on Workshop scheduling

Here is the schedule for our draft workshops:

April 21st workshop

[Draft or portion of the draft must be in the dropbox by April 15th]

Adam Watson

Sarah Cohn

Zoë Simpson

Lisa Rodriguez


April 28th workshop

[Draft or portion of the draft must be in the dropbox by April 22nd]

Maple Wu

Mattheus Oliveira

Kat Vecchio

Pat Wadsley


May 12th workshop

[Draft or portion of the draft must be in the dropbox by May 6th]

Melissa Boronkas

Nicola Certo

Destry Sibley

Kathy Cacace

Miryam Aronova


May 19th workshop

[Draft or portion of the draft must be in the dropbox by May 13th]

John Varacelli

Alysha-Beth Rodriguez

Frank Koshel

Shirley Grant

Life Writing through Blogging by Adolescents
By: Shirley P. Grant

For my research paper, I would like to look at life writing through personal blogging. My primary research will focus on a blog by a teenager that is written in the form of a personal diary. The blog is called, “The Life of a Troubled Teen.” The entries start with, “Dear Diary… ”

I am interesting in looking at this teenager’s blog to see if the information posted is considered oversharing? My primary research questions are: Does having the autonomy/ freedom to use one’s voice in a public sphere encourage adolescents to overshare information about themselves to others? If so, what types of information are they most likely to share, i.e high school experience, challenges with parents, relationships, friendships, and/or sexual encounters. Are there specific topics that are overshared and others less so? Does this blog represent average teenager behavior?

A few scholarly that will be utilized as references include:
1) Online Journals as Virtual Bedrooms – Young People, Identity and Personal Space
2) Are Blogs Putting Youth at Risk for Online Sexual Solicitation and Harassment?
3) Online Communication and Adolescent Relationship
4) Adolescent Weblog Use: Risky or Protective?

I am also interested in information pertaining to guidelines for creating and maintaining blogs and any privacy guidelines for adolescents that may prevent others from uncovering their true identities.

Any feedback or suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thank you kindly.

First there was Chuck Berry, Now there is TMI

April 13, 2015 | Comments Off on First there was Chuck Berry, Now there is TMI

While on a deep research dive for my paper, I came across “Say Everything” an article by Emily Nussbaum in New York Magazine from 2007 that looks at oversharing as generational rebellion on par with the advent of rock n’ roll. She writes,

“It’s been a long time since there was a true generation gap, perhaps 50 years—you have to go back to the early years of rock and roll, when old people still talked about “jungle rhythms.” Everything associated with that music and its greasy, shaggy culture felt baffling and divisive, from the crude slang to the dirty thoughts it was rumored to trigger in little girls. That musical divide has all but disappeared. But in the past ten years, a new set of values has sneaked in to take its place, erecting another barrier between young and old. And as it did in the fifties, the older generation has responded with a disgusted, dismissive squawk. It goes something like this: Kids today. They have no sense of shame. They have no sense of privacy.”


Questions on Heti

April 13, 2015 | 2 Comments

  1. Sheila Heti, in the introduction writes, “In this way, I should be satisfied with being famous to three or four of my friends. And yet it’s an illusion. They like me for who I am, and I would rather be liked for who I appear to be, and for who I appear to be, to be who I am” (pg. 3). What is Heti trying to say here? Does she wish to be more famous and popular, hence the book is divided into acts, similar to a play, in which she is the leading actress? Or can we look at her second statement, in which she desires her life and relationships to have a transparency between who she seems to be and who she really is?

  2. Heti repeatedly expresses her fear of divorce, yet in the end she divorces her husband after three years of marriage (pg. 20).

    Was her fear of divorcing, a self-fulfilling prophecy? Is there anything she could have done to ensure that her marriage lasted?

  3. Can we consider How Should A Person Be, an overshare? Does Heti overshare about her relationship to her husband and friends, or after reading other books of overshare, can we argue that Heti is under-sharing?

Sheila Heti questions

April 13, 2015 | Comments Off on Sheila Heti questions

1) On page 77, the following conversation occurs between Israel and Sheila Heti:

SHEILA HETI: “He disagreed with me when I said you can love anyone.”

ISRAEL: “No you can’t,” he said.  “It matters – the person you’re with.”

Do you think the following conversation signifies that Sheila and Israel value status over love?  In a similar sense, do you value status over love?

2) SHEILA – “We are all specks of dirt, all on this earth at the same time.” p. 3

In what ways do you think Sheila tries to find meaning in a world which seemingly has no order or purpose?

3) Throughout the text, Sheila makes reference to metaphysical and existential issues.  What type of values do you think she has, and what type of values do you think that she believes the readers of her work should have?

After changing my topic for the final paper about a billion times, I think I finally made the final change…


In today’s society there are multiple avenues of social media that enter a social media user’s daily activities. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Tinder, Grinder, Blogs, Flicker, and even LinkedIn are all considered popular outlets of social media many active users access today either via the internet of through iphone usage. Social media users can connect worldwide without ever having to physically reach other users. A typical user has the ability to share information, pictures, news and any other wed based content far faster and on a grander scale than most broadcasting systems from the past. However, while social media offers a multitude of benefits throughout the digital world, there are still a number of downsides that may accompany the use of this kind of media. Because everyone that uses social media is connected so instantaneously, they are subjected to several backlashes that social media may produce. Instances such as, cyber bullying are one of the top occurrences that spawn from social media use. As described by an online bullying statistics site, cyber bullying is used in an attempt “to get another child or teen to feel bad about him or herself through electronic communication”…“and includes leaving demeaning messages on someone’s Facebook page (social bullying), uploading embarrassing photos, or spreading gossip or rumors through instant messaging and text messaging” (Cyber, 2013). This alone is one of the many repercussions over-sharing in social media may create. This kind of over-sharing, or excessive use of social media, can often reveal the darker side of a good thing.

Any thoughts are welcomed!


  1. Is Facebook really optional? According to a Washington Post article from Oct 1014, Facebook had reached 1.35 billion active users per month. That means that 20% percent of the worlds population logs on to Facebook once a month. That’s half of the worlds internet users. Given the growing ubiquity of the platform one can make the argument that lack of participation can have social consequences, including negatively impacting ones career. Following this argument, O’Brien’s statement that “everything we share on Facebook is done so voluntarily” could be seen as not entirely true. He does state that we share “because of the benefits we receive” but are the benefits we receive worth what we are becoming increasingly obligated to share in order to access them?


  1. O’Brien suggests that “oversharing might create a lot of social good” and gives Red Ink as a primary example of the potential power of personal data. For Red Ink, or a similar venture, to be viable lots of people would have to share large amounts of personal information. Assuming they would do so, do you think this data would have the power that O’Brien and Red Ink founder Ryan O’Toole expect it to? I would counter their claim with the argument that our society is already overwhelmed with data, and that factual information alone will not cause people to take action.


  1. O’Brien asks us to “remember just how rapidly and radically our notion of privacy has evolved over the past decade” and seems to suggest that we may very quickly reach a place where offering the type of financial data requested by Red Ink no longer seems to be a big deal. Is this growing acclimation to providing ever increasing amounts of personal information a good thing?


Link to Washington Post article referenced in question one.


Posted by Kat

”I’m very open about my learning disability and I get the help I need at school, but out in the day to day world of living people don’t know I’m dyslexic unless I say something, and then I have this moment where I feel like I’m either making an excuse or over sharing.”

– Erica Cook (http://explore1in5.org/blog/in-the-real-world/)

The concept of oversharing has both supported and complicated the lives of adolescents and adults with dyslexia.

The term oversharing, when used critically, provides an added layer of shame that can bar adolescents and adults with dyslexia from advocating for their needs.

Alternately, the popularity of oversharing, of the personal confessional, has provided a forum for adolescents and adults with dyslexia to build community around a shared experience.

In my paper I will explore how this duality of oversharing affects adolescents and adults with dyslexia by critically analyzing YouTube confessional videos and blog posts. I will support my analysis with literature from the realm of disability studies, educational psychology and sociology. I will be looking closely at the concepts of identity construction, labeling, stigma and “passing” as it relates to dyslexia and oversharing.

I’ll leave you with one of the videos I found interesting. In this video, Haleigh Birdie casually talks about dyslexia and anxiety as she puts on makeup.

“Some people consider it as a learning disability. I don’t really consider it a learning disability. I just kind of think of it as a different way of processing, a different way of thinking. “ – Haleigh Birdie

— Melissa


Warner: The Trouble with Normal

April 1, 2015 | Comments Off on Warner: The Trouble with Normal

Continuing from our 3/31 discussion, I’ve uploaded 2 consecutive chapters (1 pdf) from Michael Warner’s The Trouble With Normal.

These chapters reflect on the culture of shame surrounding America’s discussion of sex and sexuality, particularly in political spheres regarding queer groups (although not exclusively). Although he clearly doesn’t discuss over-sharing, he is very concerned with questions about public sexual revelations.

On another note, would it be beneficial to create a folder in the drop box for student supplied documents? It may be a needless concern depending on how much we wish to share on that space.



Final Paper Topic

March 31, 2015 | 2 Comments

So far this is what I am aiming to present as my final paper…

A girl does not transition into womenhood solely after she attends school then obtains a ‘grown up’ job, love plays a major role. In my paper, I want to write about how a girl transitions into womenhood through her love and sexual experiences which includes many high’s and low’s. The high’s are obviously the undeniable ‘love’ shared by 2 individuals. The low’s consist of the abuse, whether physical or verbal and betrayal. I have a few books in mind thus far…

– ‘Letters to the Men I have Loved’ – book consists of short stories and poems about a woman’s growth through life experiences which includes love, betrayal, sex, children, etc.

– ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ – book centers around two particular women, Mariam and Laila, living in an Afghan society. Mariam is married, however is unable to conceive so she is subject to abuse from her husband who then marries Laila (2nd wife). Laila is in love with another man which comes with juicy drama for later.

– ‘Dictee’ – primarily the ‘love story’ portion of the book that discusses the mother’s relationship with her husband.

– ‘Cleaving’ – Julia’s obsession with her lover and the part of the book where he physically hits her.

In an effort to associate this to the concept of oversharing, I also want to include how some of the events chronicled in the books do not necessarily need to be so vividly described by the author since we can obviously do without.

I am still trying to piece it all together so all suggestions are welcome. Thanks.


1) In his open and unapologetic (?) discussion of racist values within gay desire, McBride spends the first 6 pages framing the chapter. This extensive reflection on the topic of discussion, the gay marketplace of desires, reflects seriously on the implications of starting the conversation McBride notes that, “[he] come[s] not to this work as a fearless explorer, outfitted to take on the rough, uncharted terrain of which I speak. No, I am a rather reluctant traveler – made even more nervous by the new brand of racial profiling that has become common fare at airport security checkpoints” (97).

Several things are acknowledged here: sensitivity, privacy, taboo, race(ism), the “uncharted territory” of the discussion, and the acknowledgement of judgement. How are we to think of these acknowledgements in terms of our class? Does McBride’s preface address these aspects in a new light?

2) McBride comments on Reid-Pharr’s detailed account of his sexual life and remarks that, “when [he] finished reading the (Reid-Pharr’s) passage for the very first time [he] had to put the book down and phone a friend. It was not that [he] could not believe that Reid-Pharr had “gone there”; [he] was just caught off guard that he had done so in print” (98).

Print as a medium is the obvious concern. While we have previously addressed questions about time, place, and audience, how does a discussion about medium alter our ideas of oversharing?


3) How does race intersect with our ideas of oversharing? How do our internalized stereotypes, dispositions, and phobic thoughts complicated the simple process of engaging a topic?


– Mattheus

Black Gay Men Essay

March 30, 2015 | 1 Comment

1. At page 3 of the introduction Robert Reid-Pharr says about the goal of his essay: “[…] I am groping for a method by which to bridge the divide between theory and practice, to break down barriers between the ways I think about American life as a professional critic and the manner in which i comport myself in my everyday life passings.” Do you think he is using this method? According to what you can understand from the Introduction.

2. In his essay the author sets the stage for an interesting battle for everyone’s rights in the American nation. He agrees with Richard Rorty saying: “Rorty is right. It is time for us to begin again the challenging labor of articulating, without shame a positive vision of the american community, the american tomorrow”. When the battle for rights becomes oversharing? Must we try every possible and shameless way to reach the goal? After few pages, you can be shocked by reading the description of his relationship with Rick (pages 9-10), and his detailed description of sex acts with him seems exaggerated compared to his noble goal. What do you think?

3. “[…] we must at the very least offer an alternative that speaks to the realities of people’s lives, the means by which they seek not only for justice but also for beauty, light, the transcendent, the metaphysical”. (page 9) Do you think this is oversharing? Is his way of writing the only possible chance to talk about his battle for gays’ rights? Do you think there are other ways without drill down the subject and reveal private details?


– Nico

I read Black Gay Man by Robert F. Reid-Pharr and it led me to ask myself some questions.

1. The author uses the derogatory language of negro queer, colored sissy and nigger faggot.  Did these terms offend anyone or did their use  by an African-American and homosexual writer make using those words inoffensive?  Should the offensiveness of a word depend on who is saying it?

2.  I found the candid discussion of Rick to be quite bold, it had a very Dan Savage-like quality to it.  Did anyone consider the level of sexual detail revealed to be oversharing?

3.  The author modestly referring to himself as an intellectual, implores other intellectuals to refuse the notion that they exist in a vacuum…but don’t they?  People in academia like to discuss things like queer theory and outmoded binaristic identitarian discourses but has ninety percent of the American population ever heard the term queer theory?  Do even homosexuals talk about queer theory around the water cooler?  What impact does the academic community have on mainstream society?

I would love to hear everyone’s take on all these questions.




A Note from Alycia Sellie

March 27, 2015 | Comments Off on A Note from Alycia Sellie

Hello Everyone,

It’s been a very busy semester, but we have a few upcoming events organized by the Library that I wanted to highlight—they are not to be missed!

Tuesday, April 14: Why Can’t I Download That Ebook? Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) and the Politics of Electronic Reading, led by Alycia Sellie
This workshop will take a tour through the GC’s ebook collections with an eye for what ebooks offer options for use and which are restricted through content management tools (known as DRM). Addressing both the technical and the political implications of DRM systems upon readers and researchers, this workshop will cover both the practical access to the Graduate Center’s ebook collections as a discussion of the complications which arise with book digitization.
Full details and registration here: https://gclibrary.commons.gc.cuny.edu/event/cant-download-ebook/

Thursday, April 16: Privacy in the Age of Dragnet Surveillance: What You Need to Know to Protect Your Rights Online, led by Alison Macrina and Kade Crockford
Alison Macrina of the Library Freedom Project and Kade Crockford of the ACLU of Massachusetts will present a workshop on privacy and surveillance in the 21st Century. Kade will give an overview of some of the government surveillance programs we learned about from Edward Snowden’s revelations. Alison will then discuss practical tech tools that can be used to safeguard your privacy from spies and other adversaries.

Full details and registration here: https://gclibrary.commons.gc.cuny.edu/event/privacy-in-the-age-of-dragnet-surveillance-what-you-need-to-know-to-protect-your-rights-online/

Monday, April 20: Brewster Kahle
Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, will speak at the annual Graduate Center Friends of the Library event on April 20, 2015. He will be introduced by Professor William P. Kelly. This event is free and open to the public, but space is limited and RSVP is required. Lunch will be provided.
Full details and registration here: https://gclibrary.commons.gc.cuny.edu/event/brewster-kahle-founder-of-the-internet-archive/

Wednesday, April 22: Archival Research: The Basics, led by Donna Davey
Learn the basics of archival research in this hands-on workshop. We’ll cover what archives are and how they are arranged, where and how to look for sources, and what to expect when you visit an archival repository.
Full details and registration here: https://gclibrary.commons.gc.cuny.edu/event/archival-research-the-basics/

Best, Alycia Sellie

1.  The author suggests a “road map” paragraph in the introduction of the paper.  The author then describes how the main body of the paper should develop and defend your argument.  So, should each paragraph be devoted to a single source that develops and defends that argument?

2.  The author tells us in the conclusion to tell the readers how their understanding of the topic has been changed for the better.  How can the author of a paper speak for its readers?

3.  What would the author define as jargon?


Discussion Questions for Dictee

March 23, 2015 | Comments Off on Discussion Questions for Dictee

1. Throughout Cha’s narrative, but especially on the story of Yu Guan Soon, what do you see as the connection between time and memory?

2. Similar to Zoe’s question on Cha’s usage of French, how does Cha use “language” as tool to illustrate notions of national belongingness, or “home”? (I’m thinking about Cha’s literal incorporation of different languages and her narrative about mother)

3. In her chapter, URANIA ASTRONOMY, Cha asserts two images. What does the juxtaposition of these two images tell us about perceptions of knowledge / meaning?

– Maple

1. Cha is intentionally ambiguous in a number of ways, including her use of pronouns, images without description, and the omission of a direct indication of time in many of her stories. Why do you think Cha prefers ambiguous implications over clear description?

2. What does it mean to consider this collection of different women’s stories an autobiography of Cha? What does her account of Yu Guan Soon, Demeter and Persephone, her mother and the other “shes” and “yous” from various nations and times tell us about Cha?

3. Why does Cha choose to incorporate French rather than, say, Korean, Japanese or Chinese?


(And the obvious question, would you consider any of this novel oversharing? If anything, I found this novel to be an undershare, in which Cha interrogates traditional notions of identity by distancing her autobiography from her individual self.)

— Zoe

A Study Guide for Cha’s Dictee

March 19, 2015 | Comments Off on A Study Guide for Cha’s Dictee

I hope you are enjoying Dictee

For those of you who would like a bit more support getting into the text, or getting the swing of it, here’s a great reading guide, by Professor Viet Nguyen of USC:


Here are some blog posts from my previous class (“Approaches to Life Writing”) about Cha’s Dictee:


There is a series on Cha on the blog if you just scroll along, including some additional discussion questions…


Interview Questions from Last Night

March 18, 2015 | Comments Off on Interview Questions from Last Night

Hi everybody. I’m posting the interview questions from last night’s session below.   Bringing the two sections together was, I think, really productive–and it was great to see the areas of overlap between their investigation of self-hood and our consideration of “oversharing.”

We are going to continue to try to connect these two classes.  I would urge you to read Jason’s class blog and to comment on the posts you see there:



Jason’s Questions for Carrie

“Oversharing” is about self-representation in a very social sense. Paul John Eakin argues that we become who we are through telling ourselves and others autobiographical stories. Nancy K. Miller argues that “it takes two to perform an autobiographical act—in reading as in writing.” Philippe Lejeune, who’s early work on autobiography influenced both Eakin and Miller, coined the term “autobiographical pact” to describe an agreement between memoirist and reader that the facts of the story are basically truth and offered in that spirit. But all these theories suggest life stories are mediated by form—that various narrative and linguistic techniques shape both the writing and the reception of another’s biography. With all that in mind, how does the concept of oversharing help us see some of the perennial questions about autobiography in new ways?


I’ve always hated the acronym TMI. I don’t like acronyms in general, but this one really gets under my skin. I think it’s because it is about enforcing secrecy and shaming surrounding experiences that we all share–sex, bodily secretions, digestion, etc. I wonder if you can pinpoint moments in Viegener’s book that might be categorized as TMI? How does he handle these? Does he have a thesis about oversharing? How did you respond to these moments, intellectually or emotionally (or both).


What methodologies are well suited to studying oversharing–privacy, confession, secrecy, social taboos, self-representation, etc.? What do these methodologies help us see? What might they obscure or occlude?

What’s your favorite line in Viegener’s book?

Is there anything interesting to learn by comparing Viegener to one or more of the other texts you’re studying in your course?

Carrie’s Questions for Jason

Can you talk about your class’s work on “distributed selfhood” and how Viegener’s writing fits into your thinking about distributed selfhood?
Peggy the Dog doesn’t have much of a voice in these lists, but she definitely has a body. Do we get a sense of her as a conscious being? How different is Peggy as an embodied being from Viegener as an embodied being? How does his portrayal of Peggy compare to his treatment of, say, his mother.

What do you make of Wayne Koestenbaum’s discussion of “parataxis” as a mode of artistic composition in this book? Can you think of other artistic works from your course or elsewhere that draw on the method of “placing side by side,” and what do you make of this artistic technique? What kinds of critical methodologies are helpful for talking about parataxis?

I am interested in the role of pleasure, sexuality, and sensuality in Viegener’s book. Do you ever sense a rift between Viegener’s sense of himself as a feeling/ sensual creature, and as a thinking creature? It seems to me that the book is so successful because it often melds the two, brings together thinking and feeling (maybe a benefit of the parataxis as well).

I could not help but notice that your name came up late in the book. Tell us the story of how that came to be—and what was like to show up on one of Viegener’s 25 lists on Facebook, and then in the published text.

Alternative question: History and economics play a powerful role in this book; it references the financial crisis repeatedly as well as Viegener’s own complex immigration/ European history. What does it mean that these material and political conditions are put on the same playing field as personal, quirky details? Does it downplay the political or reveal the political to be a part of selfhood, but one part of many?

Additional Readings for Miller and Viegener

March 16, 2015 | Comments Off on Additional Readings for Miller and Viegener

elise cowman and Ginsburg

Elise Cowen and Allen Ginsburg

I was drawn into the Miller article for three main reasons, I work at Hunter College, I love memoirs and as a precocious young teen I spent a lot of time reading the Beats. As Miller concludes, “ the six degrees of separation that mark the distance from your life to another’s are really, as it turns out, degrees of connection. And my memoir is also about you.” Reading about Joyce Johnson, Elise Cowen and Diane Di Prima brought me instantaneously back to my experience reading these women during High School.

Women of the Beat Generation by Brenda Knight is a quick and dirty primer on the women who were part of the Beat scene. It provides photos and short bios coupled with samples of work from the three women listed among others. It is a great first introduction into the lives of the women who drove the scene.

While reading Viegener, I was struck by the poetry of his lists. It reminded me of the lyricism in Patti Smith’s Just Kids. In Just Kids, Smith details her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Both authors use words to work through grief and tell the stories of loved ones who altered their life.

— Melissa

Twenty-Five Random Things About Me…

March 16, 2015 | Comments Off on Twenty-Five Random Things About Me…

25. I am late for a date as I write this!
24. But homework calls- go figure.
23. Why start with the Number One instead of going backwards?
22. The hard part of this is that Microsoft won’t automatically insert the numbers for me, I have to do this myself. I guess Microsoft feels the need to go in alphabetical order.
21. I don’t have Facebook, Instagram, twitter, or snap chat.
20. I have an email account though.
19. And a school blog.
18. I took a ceramics class once in Queens College. My one regret is that it was my last semester and I can’t take art classes again, as much as I loved taking this class.
17. I love jewelry.
16. Sometimes on trains I will look at different people and try to imagine what their story is.
15. I managed to get 10 random facts about myself!
14. One of my favorite foods (juices?) is a lemon.
13. I am much closer to my dad than my mom.
12. I have always been very fascinated by Christianity, particularly the Catholic Church.
11. People have a tendency to say one thing and then change their mind, and then lie, as well as change their mind again while swearing by everything holy that they are honest people.
10. I know many people like this, mostly, businessmen.
9. I also know many people, mostly businessmen, who would sell their own mothers to make an extra penny.
8. They sell their souls and reputations on a daily basis.
7. On a cheerful note, I know many people who will genuinely help any person in need.
6. I am very late.
5. But almost done.
4. I sympathize with Matias Viegener for how much effort it takes to write 25 random things about myself, how much more so 2500 random things Matias Viegener had to write about himself.
3. As a child, I was very shy.
2. I am friendlier now.
1. But I am still shy.

And more about the conversation…

March 16, 2015 | Comments Off on And more about the conversation…

Tomorrow, when we bring both classes together, you will be asked to sit with someone from Professor Tougaw’s section, someone you do not know.

Professor Tougaw and I will interview each other.

And then you will exchange a “25 random things” list from Viegener’s book with someone from the other class.  Think of it as giving the other student a gift of one of Viegener’s lists!  In turn, you will be given a list as well.

We’ll reconvene and talk about the lists together.

Beginning the conversation…

March 16, 2015 | Comments Off on Beginning the conversation…

Looking forward to our shared conversation tomorrow, here is Professor Tougaw’s class blog:


Please feel free to comment on and respond to posts on Viegener, Miller and Koestenbaum–and to post further on these texts on our site too.  It would be wonderful to see a bunch of comments flowing back and forth as we move into discussion tomorrow.

You can see that Professor Tougaw invited his students to go ahead and post in the “25 random things” style that Viegener takes to such great heights.  These are real jewels…anyone from our class want to take up a similar challenge?  It could be tonight, or it could be in the weeks to follow…


Alycia Sellie’s notes from our Library Session

March 16, 2015 | Comments Off on Alycia Sellie’s notes from our Library Session

Here are a few notes from what we covered for sharing, and I attached copies of the handouts too.
· Here is the MALS guide we looked at (with databases to start with under the “Articles” tab):

o We looked at Academic Search Complete (widened to ALL of our EBSCO databases), Project Muse, and JSTOR from that list
A few other things that came up:

Digital Dissertations

Oxford Bibliographies

Film. Video and Streaming Collections Research Guide

Image Resources


MaRLI application

Upcoming Library Workshops

Library Blog

Hope this is helpful, and let me know how I can otherwise be of assistance!

Alycia Sellie


General Handout Spring 2015

Research Tips Handout Spring 2015

Location of next class and other matters

March 16, 2015 | Comments Off on Location of next class and other matters

Hi Everyone,

We will be meeting in Room 6496 on 3/17/15 from 6:30p – 8:30p for our combined class with Professor Jason Tougaw…more information to follow during the day today!  Carrie

Viegener’s 2500 Random Things and Koestenbaum -Pat Wadsley

March 14, 2015 | Comments Off on Viegener’s 2500 Random Things and Koestenbaum -Pat Wadsley

In Wayne Koestenbaum’s essay “Memoir in the Age of Buzzfeed” reviewing Matias Viegener’s 2500 Random Things about Me Too, Koestenbaum opens by saying his favorite books “teach me how to think, or how to stop thinking,” and Viegener’s book did both and was thoroughly provocative: On page 188, Viegener says that he wants to create a memoir with no identity and no emotion. However, although written dispassionately, there is a strong undercurrent of emotion running through it. Is this emotion something I, as the reader brought to it? Or was it Viegener’s plan? Who would want to write a book which did not elicit emotion from a reader?

The “paratactic structure” of the book, as Koestenbaum calls the assemblage, allowed a wide array of concepts: from Zen to allegory to what makes a great narrative, piled on thick and fast, juxtaposed with steps in a death march and the merely banal.

It was absent of time frame which was disconcerting, but it was far from random, had a strong narrative arc, both in the churning of his mind and the circumstances around him.

One of his statements is that of “Remarks are not literature.” I wonder if we might be able to define the different effects a memoir composed through lists and a memoir in traditional narrative structure has on the reader, especially in its after effects.

Do we remember “bon mots” in the same way as we remember a message that the reader has implanted in a narrative, or has Viegener implanted that message as well?.

Additionally, I find it interesting that the writing collective he formed in California is called Fallen Fruit. This book carries a strong sense of life ripening and dying around him. As a gay male, he could have chosen the name Fallen Fruit as a way of claiming both identity and mortality. In both his book and his writing group, Viegener is stating that there is no identity without death.

Miller and Viegener

March 12, 2015 | 2 Comments

Hi, Miriyam here, in “But Enough About Me What do You Think About My Memoir?”, Nancy K. Miller, talks about memoirs, less about narcissism and more about memory and people’s need to be memorialized and remembered. She talks about a generation stricken with metaphorical Alzheimer’s. I found this idea interesting particularly, since at the beginning of the semester we read how the rise of memoirs was seen as connected with narcissism and narcissistic tendencies. Do people think that Miller’s argument makes sense? How might this contrast with earlier times, where people were seen as remembered through their progeny? Can we discuss this as being connected to modern day birth control, where people are opting for smaller families, yet still have a desire to leave behind a tangible sense of self?

An interesting exercise might be to have the whole class say one random thing about themselves. I got this idea off of Matias Viegener’s book, 2500 Random Things About Me Too, in which he writes “Everybody has random details about themselves” (24).
One Random fact about me is that occasionally, I switch letters when I read, for example, Nancy K. Miller, I see as Nancy M. Killer, which can be a little awkward. Does anyone else have this as well?

Final Paper Topic

March 9, 2015 | 5 Comments

The Snowden Files: A complicated political, social and ethical Issue. But was it an Overshare?

I found the deliberating process of coming up with a final research topic difficult for this class. My goal was to link this project to the rest of my academic research, which is mainly international relations and China. Looking to find a project that contributed to my understanding within this academic track, I first considered dissident citizens–such as Nobel Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, who publicly spoke out against the atrocities committed by the Chinese government, and Julian Assange, activist for complete freedom of information and founder of WikiLeaks–but these didn’t quite fit into the definition of “Oversharing”.

It came to me then, that I could focus on the actions of one person; Edward Snowden. In 2013, Snowden disclosed thousands of classified documents that he had acquired while working as a contractor for the NSA, and it is this act of releasing information which brought public attention to the extent of the government’s surveillance and started a controversy over the constitutionality of the “shadow” reach of government agencies. While Snowden is controversial–both for violating the government contract which he was under, and for his central position amid heated political and social debates–I will argue that his actions were not necessarily a direct “overshare” as it relates to class. Rather, my thesis will be that while they were not a direct “overshare”, they were in fact related, as they were the actions of one man who chose to reveal secret information about numerous individuals without their explicit consent.


March 7, 2015 | 1 Comment

Also, I want to ask you an opinion about this fact that happened last week. I was looking for a video on Youtube and I found this video in which two twins guys came out to their dad. It is a very intimate moment, private and very moving. They posted on Youtube and the whole world watched it.

I would to post the video and ask you what you think about this fact. It’s an open question for me because I had to do the same process  and it was one of the most painful but at the same time private moment of my life. Watching someone excessively free, sharing a moment like that it’s very shocking. I’m not sure if i’m right or if the goal of this video was something greater, but still I’m shocked.

I seriously would like to know what you think…thank you.

– Nico

I suggest this article on “The Wall Street Journal”, called Thank You for Not Sharing, What Triggers People to Reveal Too Much; Avoiding the Post-Conversation Cringe, by columnist Elizabeth Bernstein in which she explains the causes of the oversharing and how to control the impulse. Is it really just an impulse?

“Experts say oversharing often happens when we are trying subconsciously to control our own anxiety”, is this the only way to control our anxiety?

I think this article is very interesting, especially for a psychological review of the oversharing’s field. I think it’s important knowing the causes that bring people to overshare also from a psychological point of view.




I plan to write about individuals sharing personal information about their sex lives as a form of activism that aims to eliminate awkwardness and shame.

There are two main groups of activists I’d like to consider here: 1) feminists asserting their right to sexual freedom by rejecting the traditional attitude of secrecy and shame, and 2) sexual health advocates encouraging people to overcome the awkwardness and embarrassment of talking about sex in order discuss safe sex with their children and partners, communicate likes and dislikes with their partners for a more satisfying sex life, etc. Of course, there’s a lot of overlap between the two.

A perfect example is Charreah K. Jackson, who in this video for Essence.com asks women in the street very personal, juicy questions like “When was your last orgasm?” and “What’s your sexual fantasy?” before moving the discussion to interviewees’ safe-sex practices. In her article for BedSider.org, she references the video as an example of how she exercises her “sexual voice” before launching into “Not Awkward: 5 Tips for Talking to Anyone about Sex and Birth Control,” in which she explains how to “get the conversation started”  with anyone “from your guy to your gyno to your girls.”

While I think most people would agree that having conversations about safe sex and being able to communicate with your partner in bed are good things (even if they remain embarrassing and difficult in practice), the appropriateness of incorporating public sex confessions remains up to debate. Some may see it as an admirable (and especially for women sharers, feminist) assertion of “sexual voice” that fosters a culture comfortable with sex, thereby enabling healthy attitudes and conversations in private. Others may view it as a definite overshare in the service of cheap entertainment, believing sexual health advocacy should remain limited to the kind of general advice seen in Jackson’s article, not personal confessions like those seen in her video.

I’m still figuring out what approach to take. Should it be descriptive of the different approaches (personal vs. general) and their reception, looking at the division in public opinion over what constitutes oversharing? Should it narrow focus to the personal confession approach only, looking at how it intentionally “overshares” in order to enact social change? Should I choose to focus on either the feminist or the sexual health advocacy aspects, or does it make sense to include both since they are so intertwined?

paper idea

March 6, 2015 | 5 Comments

A couple of years ago, in a museum bookstore, I picked up a book called “Without Sanctuary.” It was published in 2000 and was a series of photographs of lynchings across the United States in the early 20th century.

I was absolutely repelled and wondered why anyone would publish this book. But I couldn’t forget it. I’ve researched it and learned that people in the academic community and in the general public are divided—they either acclaim its publication or decry it.

My paper addresses visual culture–particularly photography and documentary filmmaking — and its relationship to oversharing.

I want to look at this relationship through certain works and artists. As well as “Without Sanctuary,” they are “Night Will Fall” , “Finding Vivian Maier,” and the work of Annie Leibovitz.

“Night Will Fall” is a highly graphic look at the German Death camps. The film footage, shot by Alfred Hitchcock, was suppressed after WW II and was just released last year. “Finding Vivian Maier,” is a film documenting the life and work of a very private photographer who never published her photographs during her life and was “discovered” and made a “celebrity” after her death. Annie Leibovitz, is a photographer who specializes in revealing celebrity portraits. Leibovitz is known for the iconic photograph of John Lennon in fetal position wrapped around the body of Yoko Ono.

In the first three instances, the content was either suppressed, revealed information without the subject knowing about it, or met with public outcry. In all of them someone thought circulating the imagery would be too much information—for reasons ranging from political, to taste , to privacy. In the case of Annie Leibovitz, there are dissonant worlds. In one, she breaks borders, in the other she remains closeted: Leibovitz kept her relationship with Susan Sontag private, to the point that she only referred to the two of them as friends throughout their twenty year romantic partnership.

This is only a starting point. I am eager to dig in and see what I can find.

Following up from the discussion about how the internet has changed the way we connect and ccommunicate, I found this discussion titled “Real Relationships in the Digital World?”, and thought it worth while to share. Below is the link to the debate from the NY times website.



As someone who labored through the first volume and a half of “My Struggle” by Karl Ove Knausgaard over the course of about six weeks this summer, I’m simultaneously thankful that this wasn’t included on our syllabus—so many pages!—and curious about the discussion we could have about this project and oversharing.

For those who aren’t familiar, Knausgaard is a Norwegian novelist who’s written a six-volume book (though only the first three volumes have been translated into English) that describes his life in minute detail.  This New York Times piece is a great primer on the writer and his work.

In a way that connects Knausgaard to Sheila Heti’s book, which we will read later this semester, Salon published a piece about women writers and perceived oversharing that they tweeted in response to Knausgaard’s growing notoriety.  While his work is intensely, excruciatingly personal, it is rarely labeled as oversharing.  Heti’s book, as well as the work of Emily Gould (which I recently mentioned in connection with Destry’s paper ideas), frequently is labeled as such.

I think this gets at an interesting power dynamic that lies in oversharing, one that is rooted in gender, class, race, and identity.  I’m really excited to further explore this in future weeks.  And curious to see if anyone else has read Knausgaard and whether or not they think he’s an oversharer!


IRB Process

March 3, 2015 | Comments Off on IRB Process

Hi All,
This is just a reminder that if your proposed research involves human subjects in any way, and that includes interviews etc., you will need to receive IRB clearance.  Here is the information:


Take a close look before proceeding with your work.  Best, Carrie


Final project idea

March 3, 2015 | 1 Comment

Hi all,

I just finished reading I Love Dick, an astonishing memoir/novel/series of feminist essays by Chris Kraus. The story centers on Kraus’s obsession with an unattainable male figure at the periphery of her life. She describes her lengthy pursuit of him in cringe-worthy detail. Her husband ambivalently consents to the affair. Eventually she moves alone to upstate New York to sort out her future. At one point she travels abroad. In the process she identifies her true professional identity. Sound familiar?? And yet, this memoir offers so much of what we wanted and didn’t get from Cleaving: self-reflection, personal growth, narrative structure, artistry, implications for the culture at large… A comparison of the two could make for a great final project. I’m not going to do it, but anyone else is free to grab this idea if it’s interesting to them.

— Destry

by: Shirley

Franks’ Question:
1. Why do people feel the need to anonymously post things that don’t seem to be controversial or embarrassing? I did not consider any of the posts to be oversharing.

My response:

I found some of the posts to be very shocking. While I’m not sure if they fall under the umbrella of oversharing I can see how they might relate if there were multiple posts from the same person which would be considered excessive. The pictures risk shame to the author and their family if the author of the posts were discovered, they are extremely private and they appear to offer a confession about events that have or continue to transpire in their lives.

There were some that I came across that seemed like cries for help to me. Some of the pictures and captions regarding abuse were shocking and made me very uncomfortable, e.g. The one of the guy being stabbed by his father at 19 or the one with a picture that looks like a depiction of Jesus with the caption that Harry Potter calms me down when I’m suicidal or the one with someone wishing they had lung cancer so their mother would stop smoking. All I kept thinking about as I viewed those pictures in particular is what can do as a viewer to help?


March 2, 2015 | 3 Comments

The Permissible Violation of Privacy: The Dilemma of the Inner Voice

  • Mattheus Oliveira

The goal of this paper is to explore the implicit violation of privacy that the secondary/inner voice of character undergoes. In what ways does this violation of privacy allow a text to address complex, societal judgments on moral issues?

For the final paper of this class, I wish to do a literary study. As was noted previously, I was most intrigued by the “whisper” in “Cleaving.” The whisper is nothing new within literature. “Harry Potter” and the current sensation of “50 Shades of Gray” also adopt their own secondary voices/persona, the chest beast and goddess respectively. In the simplest terms, these secondary voices are windows into the minds of the character, adding a level of psychological complexity. They traditionally reveal a character’s inner desires or moral conflicts with whatever narrative development is at hand. And, in fact, that is what happens in all the above texts,

However, this secondary voice, while revealing some form of inner conflict or trait, is its own active force within the narrative. It is at odds with its attached character, and reveals to the reader private information. These revelatory moments, commonly accepted as credible pieces of information, fail to be regarded as a violation of privacy. Harry’s chest beast is his desire for Ginny, but it is also at odds with whatever duty he has as a friend of Ron. Yet the desires he hides are revealed to the reader. The goddess of 50 Shades is a complex image of female sexual empowerment that berates Ana who struggles in her wildly, new relationship. The whisper reminds the reader over and over about obsession.

At the same time as the violation of privacy, the secondary voice adopts an additional role. These dilemmas are not just examples of a problem that needs to be solved. As the secondary voices comes into conflict with the attached character, it begins to adopt an aspect of moral judgment. Harry Potter addresses, though certainly does not focus, questions of loyalty/duty in a friendship, while 50 Shades grapples with a complex idea of female sexual empowerment. In all stated cases, the secondary voice is at odds with its attached character. In this dilemma, the reader is given a private space, made possible by the initial violation to judge and weigh each side against the other.


Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince


50 Shades of Grey


Perhaps the most basic question: Am I missing some vocabulary to enter this conversation? Particuarly is there another term than “secondary voice.”

How do we determine the different roles in secondary voices?

What is the more detailed tradition of the secondary voice?

Is the secondary voice its own character? Does that impact the reading?

To what extent is the secondary voice a reflection of some moral judgment?

  1. I was thinking about doing a paper about oversharing and generational gaps involving Soviet immigrants and their Americanized children. With the collapse of the Soviet Union there was a huge influx of soviet citizens in the 1980’s and 90’s. These immigrants escaped a country where “oversharing” even innocent details could lead to a prison sentence at best, to death at worst. Their children were raised in America, where sharing your thoughts and feelings and talking things through are more the norm. I would like to research into this gap between parents and their children who are more open to sharing and expressing their feelings. As primary source documents, I plan to interview Russian immigrants and their children in order to understand this cultural divide. Particularly helpful for this assignment would be that I know how to speak in Russian (here is my secret of the day).
  2. I thought to do a project on what the Old Testament has to say about oversharing, in particular gossip. We all know that gossip is bad, but what about in specific situations, such as danger to life, or to warn a person about a bad business venture? What happens if personal resentment is a part of the equation? I will look specifically into what Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan, known as the Chofetz Chaim wrote about gossip. Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan lived from 1839–1933, and wrote a tremendous amount on the opposite of oversharing in a book titled, Guarding One’s Tongue. How does Rabbi Kagan’s work coincide with the Twenty-First Century need to share, overshare, and gossip about everyone and everybody? Specifically, what would Rabbi Kagan say about Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Blogs, etc…?

Hi. My research interests are on questions of Asian American Studies and gender and sexuality. I have two paper topics that I’ve been thinking about, but don’t know how to approach and narrow down:

1. The build grison. The coming of age narrative is often considered the trope in Asian American literature. Maxine Hong Kingston’s Woman Warrior further raises questions around gender and brings forth controversies in Asian American literary community. Written in a collection of stories, Woman Warrior is marketed as an autobiography when it first published in 1975. Readers are expected to link the narrator, whose name is never revealed, with the writer, Maxine. It won the National Book Critics Award and is one of the first books written by an Asian American author to be accepted in an American literary canon. It isn’t until the later edition, in 1989, that the book is labeled fiction. I’m interested in using Woman Warrior as a primary text to explore questions around genre and how that affects the way readers perceive information sharing. Does simply labeling a piece of writing as autobiography or memoir gives the work more credibility? How are Asian American identities formed through writing? What kind of meanings can be extrapolated by entwining fiction and nonfiction elements?

2. Children’s literature. This idea stems from a paper I wrote last semester in my Critical Childhood and Youth Theory class, in which I did a literary analysis on the relationship between Lois Yamanaka’s Blu’s Hanging and the role of children’s voice, followed by an article I came across, “Fixing the Female Asian American Writer Blind Spot” by Celeste Ng. I started thinking about representations in Children’s Literature. More specifically, how do characters in children’s lit embody and perform racial identities, and how do these identities shape the reader’s (the child) reflection on the self? Does having an Asian American writer make the work Asian American (Children’s) Literature? How does the role of “voice” come into play when it’s an Asian American adult writing about Asian American children for children?

– Maple

Hi Everyone, Miriyam here, awhile ago my sister told me about an app called whisper, also a website. Whisper is basically similar to PostSecret, and I think that it is also interesting to read. Here is a “secret” on whisper.


When I was a kid, my parents told me to not play with my food. 

Now that I'm an adult, I play with my food all the time :)

I do not consider these two sites Whisper/PostSecret to be over-sharing sites, I consider them like Virginia Woolf’s Bloomsbury Group, a place where people can let their thoughts be expressed in a confidential manner. If anything, I look at these sites as having the opposite effect of oversharing, since when people let their thoughts be known in a safe manner, they will be less likely to overshare in inappropriate settings. What do you think?

Facebook and The Liberal Arts

We have talked in class about the important role that the audience plays in oversharing. We have discussed that an overshare becomes so based on the particular audience the information is shared with. For example, sharing detailed information about a health issue with a doctor may not be considered oversharing, while sharing the same information with a co-worker may be considered oversharing.

If it is true that “Facebook collapses discrete social networks – co-workers, family members, classmates – into one homogenous mass of Facebook friends,” how do we determine what is sharing and what is oversharing on Facebook?

Faceless Book

In Faceless book Berlant asserts that Facebook has created a new type of intimacy characterized by “play, of having a light impact, of being ordinary, of being acknowledged, of echoing and noodling.” The type of intimacy found on Facebook is safer, “it is a relief from the other kind, which tips you over.” If it is true that Facebook has introduced a “lighter” form of intimacy, how has it impacted the way in which we value our face to face intimate relationships?

Life Writing and Intimate Publics: A Conversation with Lauren Berlant

How does Berlant view “having a life”? How are intimate publics used to broaden the idea of “having a life”?

What social media trends (hashtags, viral videos, memes etc.) support or deny Berlant’s assertion that “ we are stuck in an imaginary impasse, living on while not knowing what to do, and developing accounts and practices of how to live”?

– Melissa

I found PostSecret to be a fascinating picture blog.  Perusing the site generated three questions as I was scrolling down the posts.

1.  Why do people feel the need to anonymously post things that don’t seem to be controversial or embarrassing?  I did not consider any of the posts to be oversharing.

2.  Do the people that post these things keep these thoughts to themselves?  For instance, the picture that illustrates that his or her boyfriend needs to shave his pubes.  That seems like a reasonable request that any good boyfriend should acquiesce to, has it been asked?

3.  How anonymous are these posts?  Could an expert hacker find out the indentities of these people?

I would be interested in what all of you think of these or any other questions that may have occurred to anyone else during their viewing of PostSecret.


Hi.  In light of the readings concerning Facebook and the split between offline and online selves, I think that it would be a good idea to suggest a book that may help us ‘theorize’ our understanding of how social networks work.  I included this book because it concerns itself more with theory than ‘application’ or other utilitarian, quotidian concerns.  It admittedly has a notorious reputation for boring people to tears.  However, one may profit from it by reading it at least once.  It helps the reader to grapple with abstract and theoretical terminology.  (That is, after all, what Graduate School is mainly about.)  It is also written by a very famous sociologist who is now dead, unfortunately.

The book is Talcott Parsons’ “The Social System.”

P.S.  I also found a book on the concept of Oversharing.  It is “Oversharing: Presentations of Self in the Internet Age” by Ben Agger.  You can find it on Amazon.com.

-John Paul Varacalli

Hi all. I’m playing with three paper topics.

The first I mentioned in class: A consideration of the choices that feminist writers make between intimate storytelling and preservation of their loved ones’ privacy. Like we saw with Woolf, there are good reasons for feminist writers to tell intimate stories, particularly intimate stories about their lives with men. I think of this as an ethic of exposure – exposing what’s been rendered private or secret for emotional catharsis and/or cultural change. But there are also good ethical reasons to maintain the privacy of their personal relations and relationships. How and when do feminist writers make these choices, and what are the ethical considerations involved? Implicit in this question is another: When does one person cease to be the sole owner of their experience? The reading would be feminist poets like Audre Lorde, Sylvia Plath, Dorothy Allison, Adrienne Rich, Sharon Olds and Anne Sexton. I am drawn to this question for personal as well as academic reasons: As a writer, I have been on a trajectory of writing increasingly exposed and exposing personal stories, but have wondered about the implications for my loved ones. It would be useful to see how feminist writers have navigated this question before me.

Second idea is an examination of works that merge memoir with cultural criticism, reflecting on how the authors’ acts of (over)sharing allow for deeper, more nuanced, and more urgent cultural analysis. I’m thinking of texts like Hilton Als’s “Tristes Tropiques”, Kate Zambreno’s Heroines, and Jana Leo’s Rape New York. This is also a personal and academic interest, as these are the kinds of essays I (try to) write.

Third is a look at fictionalized memoirs/fictions based on life that expose the authors’ intimate selves. I’m interested how the fictionalization of life writing creates space for (over)sharing – for more personal and vulnerable storytelling that pushes the boundaries of the acceptable. Reading might be Sheila Heti’s How Should a Person Be?, Chris Kraus’s I Love Dick, and Jo Ann Beard’s The Boys of My Youth.

I obviously have some narrowing to do! Very open to thoughts and reactions.

— Destry

I am interested in exploring the posthumous reputations of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Robinson. Robinson was a contemporary of Wollstonecraft, and was an “actress, poet, dramatist, novelist, and celebrity figure” (Wikipedia). She wrote a candid memoir that was unfinished at the time of her death but published posthumously by her daughter.

Some specific things I’m thinking about are:
–Individual agency in shaping legacy or reputation–writing one’s own memoir vs. having one written about you.
–How the legacy of candor (oversharing) of personal information (via memoir) overshadows the legacy of intellectual contributions, both political and literary.
–Does who they were change how expected the sharing of personal information was? Robinson was known as an actress and mistress, so a memoir with juicy details of her life was, in some ways, expected of her. Wollstonecraft had at least the veneer of conventional life, so the kind of revelations in Godwin’s memoir were less expected.
–Changes in societal views on candor/oversharing.

In terms of textual analysis, I’d like to look at contemporaneous reviews of both memoirs to get an idea of public opinion. I’d like to look at a recent biography of each and one published relatively soon after their deaths to see how the treatment of their lives and intellectual contributions has changed over time. And because I love quantitative analysis, I’m interested in how many biographies of each have been published since their deaths, and possibly also how many of their own works have been published.


(by Kathy Cacace)

While it was only a tangent during last night’s class discussion on Virginia Woolf and the memoir club’s straddling of the public and private spheres, on the way home I really got to thinking about this idea of the performative intimacy on Facebook. Somebody (Sarah, I think? Sorry! Bad with names but I loved your idea!) mentioned how, for example, wishing one’s partner a happy birthday on Facebook is a public proclamation of an action we could (should?) assume would happen in person, offline.

I was thinking–though I’m not sure I’m right, so I’d love to hear other opinions on this–that maybe this sort of performative intimacy is a facet of human interaction that’s been around for a long time, but that the technology of social media allows it to be more visible.  And that perhaps it’s this visibility, broadcasting out into the world as opposed to the world interacting with an individual, that pushes it into the territory of oversharing.

I was thinking in particular about mourning attire. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute had a great exhibit about this earlier this year.  This seems to me like it’s akin to wishing your partner a happy birthday where everyone can see it. Wearing clothing demonstrative of grief, a process I would argue that we now regard as somewhat private and could be assumed to happen behind closed doors, is the performance of an intimate relationship with the deceased.

Perhaps this is something that next week’s readings and class discussions about Facebook might help us further explore?

Oversharing concept map

February 24, 2015 | 1 Comment

For those who didn’t take notes, here are photos of the chalkboard.





I think the fashion world can be a great example of what “oversharing” is. Especially in today’s world where the accessibility to certain types of realities just for the elite, is made possible only through social media.

Though designer collections may vary in style, one thing is common to all runways; the inescapable presence of social media .Both attendees and brands are using platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and the new newly launched six second looping video service Vine to capture and share the best sartorial moments in real-time.

My research would deal with the advantages and disadvantages of “oversharing” in fashion, by following two fundamental aspects.

1. From what I understood in our class, the extreme sharing of life is not regarded as positive. We have seen some literal examples, and we have judged as “oversharing” (for some aspects) of their lives. I would like to understand how social media is taking over the fashion industry. How are we conditioned by what Instagram says considering with our own criteria a fashion show, a fashion designer? or a celebrity for example. Today, can we have our own judgment or not?

2. Through oversharing, can I reach a certain level of knowledge? For example, watching online runway shows, red carpets, photoshoots on the web, the fashion word could be more accessible. I don’t have other instruments to penetrate that world. So…what kind of advantage can we obtain? And also, the judgment we can give about a brand…is it actually improved through other people’s words? Maybe yes; for sure through the experts words.



During our last class discussion on Godwin’s “Memoirs” I presented the idea that there were similarities in his frank discussions of Mary’s affairs to modern writings by those practicing polyamory.

Continuing to think on this topic has led to two possible paper ideas, though both are still very early stage ideas.

The first would be an examination of the use of candor by individuals in an attempt to normalize or de-stigmatize a romantic relationship. Specifically I would look at instances where the writer knew that their revelations would be considered deviant, or outside of the norm, but choses to speak not with the intention to shock but to challenge social norms.

While doing some initial reading on polyamorous relationships another possible topic caught my attention. Proponents of polyamory often speak about the importance of honesty within their romantic relationships. This made me take note of the public and private use of candor within these relationships. A paper might look at candor in polyamorous relationships in two areas. Public candor, how and why individuals present personal information about their relationships for a public audience. This area would consider both a local public audience, like neighbors and collogues, and a larger public audience resulting from speaking to the media. The second area would be candor within the relationships. For example telling your longtime partner about the emotional or physical connections you have with a new partner. These are revelations that would be considered taboo in a monogamous relationship, yet are expected and encouraged in many (but not all) polyamorous relationships. There may also be a third area to explore here, a kind of grey private/public area, that could examine candor towards family members and children of polyamorous couples.

– Kat

Questions about Woolf’s Moments of Being

February 23, 2015 | Comments Off on Questions about Woolf’s Moments of Being

1. The Editor’s Note of my edition (2nd by Harvest/HBJ) explains that most of the essays here were not intended for publication. Should we adapt our reaction to the text knowing that these were her private works? If so, how? Is the posthumous publication of this private text an act of oversharing her work and life story?

2. In “A Sketch of the Past” Woolf writes, 

 “And so I go on to suppose that the shock-receiving capacity is what makes me a writer. I hazard the explanation that a shock is at once in my case followed by the desire to explain it. I feel that I have had a blow; but it is not, as I thought as a child, simply a blow from an enemy hidden behind the cotton wool of daily life; it is or will become a revelation of some order; it is a token of some real thing behind appearances; and I make it real by putting it into words. It is only by putting it into words that I make it whole; this wholeness means that it has lost its power to hurt me; it gives me, perhaps because by doing so I take away the pain, a great delight to put the severed parts together. Perhaps this is the strongest pleasure known to me.” 

And in “Old Bloomsbury”,

“It may be true that the loves of buggers are not — at least if one is of the other persuasion — of enthralling interest or paramount importance. But the fact that they can be mentioned openly leads to the fact that no one minds if they are practised privately. Thus many customs and beliefs were revised.”

What do you make of these two reasons for storytelling, and for personal storytelling in particular? Does either or both justify the use here of intimate revelations about her father, George, Vanessa, Sibyl, etc?

3. What might be a contemporary equivalent of Bloomsbury/the Memoir Club? Is there one? Can you imagine one? 

— Destry

Further reading on Virginia Woolf

February 23, 2015 | Comments Off on Further reading on Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf’s Idea of Privacy by Joshua Rothman, particularly this:

“To me, though, Woolf’s sense of privacy still feels relevant; when I keep it in mind, I see it everywhere… On Tumblr and Facebook, we seek out the same private sociality that Woolf described. Usually, we think of social media as a forum for exhibitionism. But, inevitably, the extroverted cataloguing of everyday minutiae—meals, workouts, thoughts about politics, books, and music—reaches its own limits; it ends up emphasizing what can’t be shared. Talking so freely about your life helps you to know the weight of those feelings which are too vague, or too spiritual, to express—left unspoken and unexplored, they throw your own private existence into relief. “Sharing” is, in fact, the opposite of what we do: like one of Woolf’s hostesses, we rehearse a limited openness so that we can feel the solidity of our own private selves.”


— Destry


I am interested in exploring how Sex and the City altered the way female relationships are portrayed on television and how this lead to an expanded market for televised storytelling from the female perspective. In order to focus my work, I want to compare Sex and the City to Orange is the New Black looking for similarities and departures. This may or may not include comparing the books that inspired the shows as well.

Some guiding questions I have as I try to narrow down my thesis:

How does the way women bond differ from the way men bond? How is this portrayed in both shows?

How much do the characters in both shows rely on talking about intimate relationships as a way to strengthen friendships?

How is conspicuous consumption used in both shows to define female characters and friendships?

What roles do class, race and gender play in defining the relationships between characters?

Culturally, how did we get from Sex and the City to Orange is the New Black?

How has the television market changed to include a stronger female voice? Has it?

What has Netflix/Amazon Prime done to open the market to female voices?

What need (if any) did both shows fill for their female audience?

As for materials and sources, I have both television shows and the books that inspired both shows to evaluate. In addition, Reading Sex and the City by Akass and McCabe and Redesigning Women: Television after the Network Era by Amanda D.Lotz. In addition, my library searches have turned up a number of articles.

(post by Melissa Boronkas)

Hello.  A paper topic I am interested in pertains to the deficit ancien regime France incurred before the French Revolution.  For instance, I know that the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763) between France and Great Britain is ultimately what caused the deficits.  After the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783), Great Britain, for whatever reason, was able to pay back its debts; however, France was not able to do so.

The research question I want to answer is: How did the deficit affect the political system of ancien regime France?  I do believe that this topic relates to oversharing.  For instance, did  French subjects believe that they ‘overshared’ their participation during the Seven Years’ and American Revolutionary Wars?  Did they ‘overshare’ their enthusiasm and ability to pay back the deficit through means such as the corvee?  Was the French state’s imperative for soldiers and subjects to fight in wars and pay back debts a demand for oversharing the French people’s energy?

On a philosophical note, I do believe that an answer to the research question can illuminate the nature of war and how it affects members of a commonwealth economically and emotionally.  Does anyone benefit from war (i.e. weapon manufacturers, pensioners, etc.)?  In its totality, does war garner in more costs than benefits for members of a nation?

(post by Kathy Cacace)

It’s true that I work in medical publishing, but in the Venn diagram of my personal interests and my professional life, there is only one small overlap: how we talk about our bodies, particularly women’s bodies.  As I thought about this in relation to our class discussions and the theme of oversharing, and as my personal love for stand-up comedy caused this to catch my attention, I started to circle around the idea of period jokes as a topic for my final paper.

Menstruation is a highly gendered biological function that still remains somewhat taboo. If anything could be classified as a stereotypical TMI/overshare topic, I think menstruation would fall firmly in that category. But I think there is some stuff to be unpacked here; even in just thinking through the bits I’m familiar with, I began to pick up on a tension I’d like to explore between explaining a female-gendered experience, the question of the comedy stage and the comedy club as a gendered space, the concept of “hackiness” around the topic, and the role of both male comics and male audiences within this topic.

I’m not quite sure what my thesis is, or even really what my angle is yet.  But I think I’m interested in the ways that women talk about menstruation in a comedic context, perhaps versus the ways in which men approach the same topic.  A cursory search of JSTOR has turned up some really interesting articles that could either help to either broaden or focus my line of inquiry: uses of obscenity in live stand-up comedy, humor in ritual behavior among Marathi speakers in India, attitudes towards menstruation and menstrual blood in Elizabethan England, bawdy humor and body politics in Jane Austen’s novels, etc.

I’ve also started to collect contemporary stand-up jokes about the topic from Cameron Esposito (linked above), Margaret Cho, Chelsea Peretti, Louis C.K., etc.  Right now, I think I’m most interested in reading/viewing broadly on the topic before I hone in on exactly where I’d like to take this, but I’m pretty excited about tackling it as a seminar paper.

  • “Thus to be a friend is to stand to another in a relationship of trust, for the sake of one’s friend; to be a writer is to stand ready to violate that trust for the sake of one’s story” (108). Do you agree with this statement? Is there a difference between writing one’s story and including shared experiences with friends or sharing information they provided in the course of the friendship? Are both considered a violation of their trust?
  • “I reject storytelling that violates professional codes of confidentiality, storytelling motivated by malice….storytelling that fails to exhibit appropriate care and respect for the stories told (as in the talk show broadcasting of stories). Storytelling must be done with sensitivity and concern both for the stories themselves and even more for the persons, for the human beings, whose stories these are. (114) Are celebrities and people in the public eye exempt from, “the exhibition of appropriate care and respect for their stories” by talk shows or is it par for the course? Is it considered oversharing if one shares another person’s information and not their own?
  • ”I don’t think bad people deserve the protections that good people do…In my sharing of stories with friends, one of my delights is to tell the truth about bad people. Bad people deserve to be known for who and what they are” (118). These particular lines seemed like a contradiction to her comment on page 108, “I feel sick when past offenders are labeled for life and denied any opportunity, ever, at public redemption.”  Who determines “bad” people? What constitutes a “bad” person? Do the families of “bad” people deserve for writers such as Claudia Mills to comment about her delight in telling the truth about them with little regard for their families because, “bad people deserve to be known for who and what they are”?

Unlucky in Love

February 16, 2015 | Comments Off on Unlucky in Love



I would like to add a visual to the William Godwin reading. Mary Godwin was very unlucky in love. Her first “unrealized” love affair was with Henry Fuseli , whose paintings like “The Nightmare” were extremely gothic horror depictions. Was that what drew Mary to Fuseli?

Further Reading for Memoirs

February 13, 2015 | Comments Off on Further Reading for Memoirs

My suggestion for a complementary reading to Godwin’s Memoirs is Godwin & Mary: Letters of William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft. Reading their letters to each other provides a nuanced view of their relationship. There are only 160 letters–most of them very short–that trace the trajectory of their relationship from courtship through pregnancy, marriage and up to just before Mary’s death. There are sweet letters, expressions of their love for one another, as well as snippy letters over Godwin’s behavior with another (unnamed) woman. Neither is a saintly genius with perfect taste and intuition. They’re just human. There is a copy at the GC library.

Having read Memoirs by William Godwin, the following questions resonated:

1. Described as a unique, strong willed and urgent person with many traits of genius, is Godwin’s writing about Mary Wollstonecraft not only the story of genius but how genius relates to non-conformity?

2. More in tune with the topic of the class, is Memoirs the story of the importance of “oversharing” as it relates to contemporary norms or standards (in Mary’s case the role of Women in society), and as justified when the individual sees beyond the conforms of society towards what ‘should’ be the case rather than what is?

3. What does the sense of Mary’s urgency throughout her early years, and it’s gradual decline towards the end of her life when she seems more at peace and less rushed tell us about life itself? Do we become more content after going through our experiences, both good and bad, and acceptance of our place in life, or rather do we find solace in more adequately realizing the objects of our heart’s desire as we age?

Godwin’s ‘Memoirs’

February 12, 2015 | Comments Off on Godwin’s ‘Memoirs’

Hello.  I just read William Godwin’s 1798 ‘Memoirs of the Author…’ piece.  I printed a copy of it off of the Project Gutenberg website; hopefully, there will be a match between all the different translations/editions of this work.  I just finished reading it and have generated 3 questions I had about the work.  They are:

1) Do you think Mary Wollstonecraft’s feminist philosophy was influenced by her life history?  Or do you think that her beliefs were simply motivated by the possibility of having political rights identical to that of men/men with property, etc.?

2) Do you think this account by William Godwin is candid and rational, or do you think it is a subtle attempt of a jealous husband to ‘expose’ Mary?

3) Do you think Mary and William Godwin have the general, Enlightenment view that humanity is good at heart?

More Discussion Questions for “Cleaving”

February 8, 2015 | Comments Off on More Discussion Questions for “Cleaving”


(The Butcher’s Shop by Annibale Carraci, via Wikimedia Commons)

1. Did any part of Cleaving make you cringe?  And in what way, if any, do you think cringe-iness relates to oversharing?  For example, I found myself cringing at Powell’s repeated Buffy the Vampire Slayer references.  On the one hand, I could easily blame this on my dislike for this particular television show (…with apologies to any Buffy fans in the class). On the other, this is a classic overshare–revealing the wrong information (bad TV habits) in the wrong context (published memoir intending to deal with relatively serious topics).

2. Particularly in the context of a memoir, can a writer ever “win” when responding to critics? New York Times book reviewer Christine Muhlke, for example, calls the travel section of the memoir ” a 100-page exercise in self-indulgent writing, in which she dwells on how attractive the locals find her and how much Malbec, Cognac or goat’s blood she can drink.” Powell’s Slate piece seemingly doubles down on the very things that critics took issue with, like being too revealing and too self involved.  What purpose does this serve for Powell?  For critics? For readers?

3. Cleaving intends to be explicitly revealing in on several topics:  marriage, infidelity, sex, butchery, travel.  Are there themes on which Powell does not perhaps intend to be revealing where the memoir presents uncomfortable information?  In what ways should the reader negotiate this information?  Is it fair game for criticism?

(Post by Kathy Cacace)

Questions for Cleaving

February 5, 2015 | 2 Comments

1. Much of our discussion in class touched on oversharing as it relates to the audience. Critics of Cleaving have suggested Powell has no audience in mind, and that the book is less a memoir and more one big overshare. Do you agree with this assessment? Why or why not?

2. Cleaving was published in 2009, and shocked some people with the descriptions of sex. With explicit and sometimes uncomfortable sex scenes on TV shows like Girls and bondage portrayed in Fifty Shades of Grey, does the sex in Cleaving continue to shock?

3. Similarly, Cleaving shocked some people with the descriptions of butchering and slaughter. Does the butchery still shock?

4. Which thread is more compelling-butchery, adultery, or travel? Why? Does Powell create connections between the three?

5. Powell writes about herself in fairly stark terms. What do you make of the difference between statements like “When it came right down to it, I got pretty much whatever I went after. Want. Take. Have. That was my simple motto.” (p. 9) or “Just call me Julie “Steamroller” Powell.” (p. 19) and statements like “I am more of a linger-at-the doorway-looking-cowed girl.” (p. 94) or “I’m a pretty obedient girl, as I’ve by now made clear…” (p. 135)?


ETA: For some reason, I thought we had to have 5 questions. Then I got home and re-read the assignment. Turns out I only needed 3. So. My apologies. Disregard whichever 2 questions you find least appealing.

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