52. tiny driver's first birthday!

thinking about consenting to learn in public

Hi there! 👋 I’m Ida, and this is tiny driver, a newsletter about research, pedagogy, culture and their intersections. Thank you for being here. Reach out anytime by just hitting reply, I love hearing from you.

Hello, and happy Monday.

Today's a bit special for me. One year ago, I decided to take a risk and begin publishing tiny driver. So much of my year has been chronicled through my Monday letters to you, the reader. You've seen me through a transition to a different city and learn what life is like after graduating with a PhD. And as I now move into my next position, so much will likely change as well.

A few weeks back, when I finished out Spring quarter, I wrote a newsletter issue that began with metrics—numbers of how many courses I taught and other things of that nature. But on tiny driver's first birthday, I want to center one of the more qualitative aspects of my journey in writing this newsletter: consenting to learn in public.

I’ve always approached situations slowly, an effect (I assume) of being a naturally cautious person. Perhaps this is why I’ve chosen a career path in which the presentations, articles, and books I will one day write will have gone through a lengthy process of conception, reworking, and revision. What I share with my colleagues will have been thought through for months or years, undergoing the critical eyes of writing groups and peer review. I will feel certain in the quality of research done, feel safe in the community of scholars I write to and for.

This newsletter is an absolute departure from these inclinations—a space in which I engage in the practice of "consenting to learn in public."

I first heard this phrase from Dr. Adrienne Keene, an assistant professor of American Studies and Ethnic Studies at Brown, who uses it to describe the work she does on her own blog, Native Appropriations. Although her academic work focuses on Native students and their relationships with institutions of higher education, Dr. Keene uses the blog as a space to begin discussions on Native (mis)representation in media, fashion, etc. and the stakes of such representations. With her more public-facing work, she invites her readers to come along with her as she works through different cultural phenomena, learns from others in the community, and grows in her opinions about issues of amazing complexity and nuance. Nothing she publishes is absolutely definitive—there is always another book to read, another piece of evidence to take into consideration, another point not yet considered.

More than serving as a site for social justice work, Dr. Keene’s writing on the blog exposes something fundamental to thinking and scholarship that is mostly masked in academic publication: processes of knowing and growth. Hers is a process of knowing and growth that is publicly documented. And it deeply inspires me.

I've written about the importance of public writing for academics before, but newsletters serve a slightly different purpose to me. Just as public writing provides greater accessibility to more academically-minded ideas, newsletters are spaces where dialogue and community are central to intellectual growth.

It is thus both from the desire to cast my cautious personality aside and from Dr. Keene’s work that I have conceived of and framed this newsletter. Writing here over the past year, I hoped to liberate myself from the idea that those who write publicly must have everything figured out. I hoped to liberate myself from the conviction that what I think and the way I think can’t change. I hoped to liberate myself from the understanding that I shouldn’t show the messy bits until they are polished translucently clean.

And that's what it has grown into. This newsletter has become is a brazenly public avenue through which I learn and grow. It is a way to document my ideas and the evolution of those ideas—to engage with a community that will productively contribute to that evolution.

So thank you, my dear reader, for coming on this journey with me. Here's to another year of revelation and growth in community. 💖

What I consume.

In the Bookshop:
Currently Reading: Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
On Deck: The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

For July’s book club, we will be reading Conditional Citizens by Laila Lalami! Thank you to everyone who voted, and feel free to purchase a copy of the book here! Details are below.

Here's the event info:
Date & Time: Tuesday, July 27 @ 5PM PST/8PM EST
Registration Link!
Suggested donation (for those able to donate): $3-20 through Paypal or Venmo (@idyalz)

Item(s) of note.

A pup-date.

Girlie was enjoying her treats out on the balcony today. What a cute shot:

As always, thanks so much for reading through, and I'll see you in the next one!


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tiny driver is a labor of love—one that involves a lot of caffeine. If you find the newsletter joyful and/or useful, consider supporting me & my work so I can invest more into the future of the newsletter! Every little bit helps!
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