As a graduate student at the University of Florida back in 1987, I took a course in literary theory from Gregory L. Ulmer. This turned out to be a life-changing experience. Through his innovative methods, which intuit constructivist pedagogical theory, I conceived of the Deleuzoguattarian concept of the rhizome via his CATT(t), a heuristic for invention, before knowing anything about these philosophers or their work. To directly experience the process of invention in this way was quite powerful, an experience that I would not forget.
After finishing a Masters in English and then starting on Ph.D. coursework under the direction of medievalist Al Shoaf, my first set of identical twin boys was born, so I had to go to work and taught high school English for two years. Upon returning to graduate school, I asked Ulmer to direct my dissertation. Given my experience teaching at the high school level, I was attracted to the focus on pedagogy in his first book, Applied Grammatology: Post(e)-Pedagogy from Jacques Derrida to Joseph Beuys. We decided that I would use the preparatory work I had done for the medieval/renaissance focus under Shoaf, finding a way to fit it in to Ulmer’s emergent theories of “teletheory,” “heuretics,” and “electracy.” I would consider Edmund Spenser as a writer negotiating a moment of transition to print literacy, and this moment would yield insight into the transitional moment that we are experiencing at the end of the 20th Century and the beginning of the 21st. The resulting dissertation ended up proposing a theory of hypertext composition based on Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of the rhizome.
After three years at Hamline University, I took a job at a Catholic high school in Boston, working as a Library Media Specialist or “cybrarian.” Without the kind of restraints that one has as an assistant professor, I pursued my interests in a variety of topics such as cosmology, evolutionary theory, and neuroscience. This unrelated research is posted at my other blog, Scholaris Erratus, which chronicles my “wanderings” as a nomad scholar outside of the academy. In February, 2007, thanks to the encouragement of John Craig Freeman, I participated in the Invent-L Imaging Place conference, which reawakened my interest in Ulmer’s research program and his attempt to establish electracy as a neologism that not only describes the major upheavals in communications, culture, and identity formation resulting from new technologies but also provides theoretical insight into how best to maximize human potential within this milieu. And so I continue, as I suggest in the blog’s subtitle, to aid in the transition from literacy to electracy, providing what insight I can from my experience of working directly with Ulmer. I continue to be inspired by his vision, his foresight, and his theoretical acuity.
As of Spring 2010, I began as an adjunct professor of New Media in the Visual and Media Arts department at Emerson College, teaching VM606 (Writing for New Media), where electracy is the guiding theoretical framework for the course’s content.