Because I wanted a name for this website that captured the fact that no idea, event or person can ever be understood without also exploring the ideas, events, and people that cross through, over, before and after.
Because it’s on this website that you’ll find, all in one place, the many different intersections, divided highways, crossroads, paved and unpaved throughways that make up the map of my writing. Interested in my work on body image? My ideas about Anne Boleyn? My commentary on current events? My Op Eds on Hillary Clinton? My feminist perspectives? You’ll find topic-grouped links to published pieces, interviews and reviews, and an ongoing blog, for my less “processed” reflections.
Among academics, I’m regarded as “interdisciplinary.” I’m probably better described as “undisciplined.” I don’t like intellectual boxes, I hate academic jargon, and I’m drawn to topics that are calling out for someone to smash through conventions.
Because my work has ranged over so many different topics, readers have been confused as to “what” I am. Some who have read my work on eating disorders and body image think I’m a psychologist or sociologist. Those familiar with my Anne Boleyn book might figure me for a historian (some, on the other hand, are furious at me for “pretending” to be one when I don’t have a degree in history.) Because I often write about television, movies, and contemporary culture, I’m sometimes taken as working in “communications” or “media studies.” Everyone “gets” that I’m a feminist, but only those who know my earliest work (on Descartes!) realize that my degree is in philosophy. Those who have gotten to know me through pieces I’ve published in Huffington Post and other Internet sites may have no idea I’m an academic at all—which pleases me.
The fact is that I always wanted to be a writer—no academic “discipline” necessary–and went into academia only because I had no money, enjoyed teaching, and back in the day, believe it or not, it was a “safe” route to a secure job. Once I got that job, I immediately set about discarding all the academic rules I had learned to play by—and encourage my students, once it’s safe for them, to do the same. I tell them instead to go by the writer’s rule, that their work meet the challenge of two questions: “So what?” and “Who cares?”
Right now, I can answer the “who cares?” and “so what?” pretty easily myself, because I’m obsessed with the current state of politics, and in particular Hillary Clinton, who—like Anne Boleyn, the subject of my last book—has had to struggle with myths and politically-biased narratives all her public life. As is true to my inclinations, however, I’ll be writing about not “just” Hillary Clinton, but the cultural forces that have shaped her, her political supporters and enemies, the media that has played such a role in defining her—and me. She and I are the same age, and I believe that women of our generation “get” what’s going on (and what went on, back in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s) in a way that we need to share.
I hope you will share, too. Comments, both on published pieces and blogs, are always welcome. And please do consult my schedule of talks—minimal right now, as I’m concentrating on writing—to see if and when I’ll be in your area.