Tweety Bird

I’ve been fielding a lot of questions about social networking recently.  This has led me to believe that perhaps it’s time for a little chat about social networking… again.  You might recall my series on social networking (and if you don’t, it’s totally worth a read… and not just because I wrote it).  I’m not planning to reiterate everything I said there.  I want to talk about twitter today from a slightly more advanced perspective.  There are plenty of blogs devoted to how to set up twitter and get started; I’d like to pick up where those blogs left off.

So, you have a twitter account.  You have the twitter ap.  What the heck do you do with it now?

Think of twitter as a party.  A large, loud party where everyone is shouting at the top of their lungs and has had a little too much to drink so they’re really only half paying attention to the people around them.  Content posted on twitter is extremely ephemeral; like Dorothy says “people come and go so quickly here”.  Because of the LARGE amount of tweeters most people follow on their twitter feed, and because twitter is so quick and easy to update, content scrolls past on an extremely disposal basis.

The key to successful tweeting, then, is virality.  You’re not on twitter because you think that one tweet will change the world (unless your Lady Gaga who has 41,217,143 followers).  You’re on twitter in the hopes that someone else will retweet your content.

Say you have 208 followers (the average number of twitter followers per user, according to Craig Smith).  You tweet something; say a link to your most recent blog post.  At best, that tweet is seen by 208 people.  But, if one of your followers retweets the link, then you can double your audience with one click.  If two of your followers retweet the link, you’ve effectively tripled your audience.  You can snowball your twitter exposure by tweeting retweetable content on a regular basis.

But what’s retweetable content?  Tweet something that’s provocative.  Tweet something that will start a conversation.  Tweet something inordinately witty.

If you’re looking to get someone’s attention, tag them in the tweet.  For instance, if I’m blogging about large theatre companies, I will often tag them in a tweet with a link to my review.  I know that they have more followers than I do and, if I can get them to retweet my link, my exposure suddenly goes through the roof.

If you’re looking for followers, you need to put some serious thought and effort into cultivating relationships.  Technology enables quick communication, but that doesn’t mean that you should stop being a human presence.  The best way to get others invested in your content is to invest in theirs; when you retweet something add a little comment of your own.  “This is great!” or “very interesting!” shows the person you’re retweeting that you A) read the content, B) enjoyed the content, and C) think it’s worth the little extra time

Instagram has encouraged me to take the kinds of pics that I would normally tweet; like this one for instance of my new desk-Will

Instagram has encouraged me to take the kinds of pics that I would normally tweet; like this one for instance of my new desk-Will

to add a personal flair.  The more you do this, the more likely the effort is to be reciprocal.

Start conversations with people.  This is most easily done through the use of hashtags.  Hashtags, for those not down with the lingo, are those hot-linked words in a tweet preceded by the “#” symbol (i.e. #Shakespeare, #Daniprose, #busyday).  Have a look at the trending hashtags (there’s a list of them on the left of your feed if you scroll down a bit) and see if you can’t get in on that conversation somehow with your content.  Hashtags are an easy way to archive your content in a place where like-minded individuals are most likely to find it.

A common question that I’m asked is “how often should I tweet?”.  The answer to this is more than once a day, for sure.  Again, remember how disposable twitter content is.  The more you tweet, the more likely it is that your content will actually be seen.  The most common argument to this is “well I simply don’t have time”.  Tweets are 150 characters; make time if you want a healthy feed.  Install the twitter ap on your smart phone and tweet while you’re standing in line for coffee.  Take pictures on your commute and tweet that.  Remember that a tweet isn’t a commitment to the content, just a commitment to an aesthetic.  If you’re wondering what you should be tweeting, check out some feeds of large organizations or famous personalities upon whom you’d like to model your web presence.  What kinds of things do they tweet?

If you’re wondering whether you’re hitting your tweeting goals, check out your feed every now and again.  Look, honestly, at the content that you post.  Is it interesting?  Is it something you enjoy reading?  Would you follow you?  If the answer is “no”, try to determine why.  Too many retweets without added commentary?  Not enough frequency?  Or is this just not the kind of person you would associate with?  Objectively examining your social networking feeds on a regular basis is a healthy practice; you need to know how you come off if you’re looking to improve your web presence!

So tweet away, tweet-verse; experiment!  Grow, prosper!  Now, gods, stand up for tweeters!

Reputation, Reputation, Reputation!

Alright, so you’ve done some thinking about the cardinal rules of the internet.  You have an understanding of social networking platforms.  Now you need to figure out who you want to be online.

No, seriously, that’s really important.

The internet persona is the projected image of yourself that you put on the internet.  Through a combination of social media, blogging, and strategic web page contributions, you can curate an online presence which projects a very specific image of who you are.  This image can have as much (or little) to do with reality as you deem appropriate for your chosen objective.

These days, curating an online presence is an extension of creating a marketable resume.  Because trust me, one of the first thing your potential employer is going to do when your resume hits her desk is google your name.  So what is she going to find there?  Pictures of you making stupid life choices in your undergrad, or information to support the notion that you’re a responsible and respected professional in your chosen field?

This is the first image that pops up in google when you search my name (that's because it's my google+ profile pic); know how your networking effects your search results.

This is the first image that pops up in google when you search my name (that’s because it’s my google+ profile pic); know how your networking effects your search results.

Now.  This isn’t to say that you can’t have multiple online personas (you can); you will just need to be extremely careful at the personal information you share with each social networking platform (and keep clever track of your online dossiers).  Often times, even if your full name or e-mail isn’t available in a public profile, it can still be linked via meta-data to whatever network you are currently using.  So if you want to do the alter ego thing, you really need to be on top of who you are where and what your privacy settings look like at each port of call.

Personally, I think it’s just easier to keep my digital nose clean.  My job is the biggest extension of my personality anyway, and often the quirky personal details that I use to spiff up this blog, my twitter feed, and certainly my facebook lend credence to my framing argument: hire me because I’m passionate, knowledgeable, and (literally) live for this.

I do realize that I’m a special case.  I happen to love my chosen vocation and, even if I wasn’t getting paid to do it, I’d still be involved with it.  You can take the girl out of the theatre, but you can’t take the theatre out of the girl.  Additionally, theatre (and academia) are both life-devotions rather than professions.  I don’t have regular set hours, I am basically on-call all the time, and I never really “walk away” or leave my work “at work” because there’s actually no way to.  I will always be thinking about my research.  I will always be grinding on my next project.  My brain doesn’t compartmentalize very well.

Even if you function under more conventional rules of “work”, you should consider your web presence to be an extension of your professional self.  What qualities does your industry require to be the most successful in it?  What personal flair do you bring to a project?  What does your industry value in a worker?

This is not to say that your online persona should be a robot-you single-mindedly programmed to do nothing but work; far from it.  Your online persona should be personable; human.  Just a human built to do the job that you want to do.

Does your industry require tenacity?  Straightforwardness?  Verve?  What is it that makes people want to work with you in your industry?  What can you offer to a project that no one else can?  If you can figure out how to answer these questions, you can begin to craft a persona that exhibits these qualities.

Where would someone in your industry be expected to hang out?  Do in their free time?  Think about how your leisure activities reflect upon your human aspects (for instance: you will notice an inordinate number of tweets on my feed about going to the library, grading, and otherwise working on things…. That’s by design, folks).  What are the kinds of things that someone in your industry would be expected to notice from the places you go?  The

I am, for instance, the type who takes pictures of beautiful libraries (yes, this is a public library)

I am, for instance, the type who takes pictures of beautiful libraries (yes, this is a public library)

architecture?  The marketing potential?  Find a way to cleverly insert your observations into your tweets, facebook posts, instagram pics.

Social networking is a careful game of show and tell.  You assemble the pieces of a puzzle to resemble what you want to show people.  Sometimes, one piece out of place can get glossed over (perhaps one less-than-appropriate tweet).  Sometimes, the egregiousness of an already problematic infraction multiplies into proportions which swallow the rest of your public image (see: the recent Steven Taylor Twitter racism scandal http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/steven-taylor-could-charged-fa-6310354 ).  But this shouldn’t be a problem for you since you’re following rule one of the internet, right?  RIGHT?

Summer Days… Drifting Away

Can you believe it’s July already?  That reality check as I looked at my calendar reminded me that summer is in full swing and I had better settle into it and stop waiting for it to happen because otherwise I’ll miss it before it’s even occurred (…plug that into your TARDIS and parse it, I dare you!).

As I have previously mentioned, this summer my schedule is full to the brim with important self-propelled projects.  Large items on the docket include:

Learning to Read German: This requires the most tenacity of any of the projects which are currently on my desk.  Turns out learning a new language is, while not more difficult than I remember it being, more time-consuming.  This is likely because I’m attempting to cram the entire thing into my head in the matter of mere months.  Well… that’s not entirely accurate.  I’m attempting to cram the skills which I will need to read it effectively into my head in a matter of mere months.  These skills include: an understanding of grammar (a

This was my preliminary flashcard stack… it has since grown by at least 300%

little… complicated in German.  Very different from English, not so different from other things I’ve previous done, but definitely convoluted until you figure out how to break it down into its bits and memorize those bits… it’s the memorization part that’s tricky), an understanding of how to utilize a dictionary (not as straightforward as it sounds… curse you, German, and your crazy compound words!), and a giant vocabulary.  Vocabulary acquisition/retention is what takes up the bulk of my time.  Every day, I am learning between 50-70 new words.  That’s a LOT.  On my desk sit stacks of flash cards that grow and thrive between each passing day.  I have a pile system.  It’s nice to see things I know today that I didn’t know yesterday represented in such a graphic way.  However, problematically, since my class moves SO quickly, learning all the things in my “to-learn” pile just means I have to make more flash cards.  This has caused me no small amount of stress (since there’s CONSTANTLY something else to do and I can’t really ignore the giant stack of index cards that sits RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY FACE), but I keep having to remind myself that a language is all-inclusive.  I guesstimate that I have acquired the reading level of an eight-year-old.  That’s pretty friggen good for one month of hard study.

Brushing off Papers for Publication: Publish or Perish ain’t just an old sailor’s adage, folks.  In fact, many respected academics say that publishing is the most important part of a PhD candidate’s marketability as a job candidate.  The job market the way it is, I need to be as flawlessly perfect as I can be (and as attractive to potential employers).  And that means publishing.  And that means a lot of work on top of the work I’ve already done to produce these papers in the first place.  Unfortunately, since this task is slightly easier to ignore than the tribble-like flash cards that litter my desk, this doesn’t take up as much of my time as it should.  That said, I hope to have at least two papers floating in the publication ether by the end of the summer.  Three would be better, but I’m trying to be realistic and not drive myself absolutely bonkers trying to accomplish something that’s only kinda feasible if I stop sleeping and going to the gym.

Learning to Play the Ukulele: While recently attending the wedding of some dear friends, I

someday, maybe I’ll be as cool as Amanda Palmer

came to the realization that since I’m a less-than-mediocre guitarist, I’d probably be halfway decent at playing a ukulele.  The idea percolated and I realized that it was perhaps the perfect way to spend my copious amounts of free time (did you hear the sarcasm in my font?).  So far, I was right!  The ukulele is perfect for me because it is small, lady-like, has four strings (four strings for four fingers instead of six strings for four fingers… it’s like heaven!), and doesn’t carry the asshole connotations that a guitar does.  Also, it’s interesting.  “Oh, yea, in my spare time, I play the ukulele”.  Who says that?  (…other than me now….).  It’s also portable; I have handbags that are larger than my uke… and I don’t eve have a small uke! (she’s concert-sized, for anyone to whom that would mean anything, and her name is Jojo after the wonderful lady  who hooked me up with chord charts and learners’ resources).

Going to the Gym: A constant process, and one I’m trying to get better at before school devours me.  During my first year, I was pretty consistent about being a 2-3 times a week gym bunny.  I’m trying to bump this to 3-4 times a week.  Can she do it?  Let’s find out…

Starting a Podcast: If you haven’t visited the links section of the site in a while, you probably won’t have noticed that I’ve added a few (…and also a page for my sundry extracurriculars… in case you aren’t tired of listening to me rant about grad school here, you can see me do it at other places on the internet!).  One of these links is to the site that is going to host the podcast which myself and my partner in crime have been cooking up.  Several months ago, he came to me with the idea to start it and, always being game for things involving Shakespeare and things involving my partner in crime, I said “let’s do it”.  Well, we’ve been busting our butts to make the dream a reality and, in the next week or two, look for our first broadcast.  We’re going to be chatting about Shakespeare’s canon in approximate chronological-to-how-he-wrote-them order in 15-minute-a-week intervals.  Our first show: Shakespeare’s first tragedy, Titus Andronicus.  Should be good fun!

Preparing for the Fall: At the back of my head, I’ve constantly been reminding myself of the

Last summer, I could get some R&R right at work (… Beach-Themed dance party at the studio)

mental fortitude required to live out a year in academia.  I need to get some R&R in this summer if it kills me or, come fall, it really will kill me.  I do have a tiny vacation planned, and have been orchestrating some exceedingly fun outings with friends (by the by, 5-wits events are TOTALLY worth going to especially if the idea of being a super-spy or steam-punk adventurer for the afternoon at all fills you with any sense of childish glee).  I’ve also been trying to take it as easy as I can between everything else, not beat myself up too much if my to-do lists are slightly behind, and enjoy some good ol’ fashioned vitamin D every chance I get.  With any luck, this will be enough to recharge my batteries so that I can be rearing to go come September.

So for now, I think I’m going to grab myself an iced tea with mint and blueberries, and return to this persistently propagating pile of plosives.  How’s your summer going?

A Cautionary Tale…

A Cautionary Tale for you….

Once upon a time at the beginning of a semester long ago in a far away land called Boston, there was a Lady Knight deeply embroiled in battle with the Homework Dragon.

It was one of three beasts of its type which she knew she would be facing this semester (as she did every semester).  It was of the genus “Classius Presentationus” and had a knack for being a time-consuming creature which often required creative tactics in order to properly finish off.

Just as she was reaching the peak of her epic fight, the moment that would make or break

Yup. Totally what I do every day.

her, she was given a choice as to when she would like to face the other two of its kind which inevitably awaited her down the path.

Between dodging its razor-sharp fangs and neatly avoiding the swings of its sinewy tale, the Knight uttered from between gritted teeth “as far away from now as possible”.

Of course, as often happens when entrenched in a fight for one’s very life, the Knight made one key oversight: there was a chimera lurking at the end of her current journey which she would also need to, inevitably, face.

In putting off the second two Dragons, she had created a situation in which she would be mercilessly torn at by all five adversaries at the same time.

In other words: check your calendars before you commit to class presentations, folks.  Don’t make my mistake.  Due to my own stupidity, I’m currently drowning in three papers, two and a half presentations, and the usual weekly dosage of class reading in addition to some personal projects and a conference paper which has been requested for submission to publish.

My white board is at critical capacity.

So is my brain.

So is my schedule.

Oh, and I’ve managed to incubate the finals plague again, once more baffling medical science with my body’s ability to creatively re-arrange contagion in ways that may even make Dr. House cry.

It’s going to be a long month.

Some Days you’re the Bug, Some Days you’re the Windshield.

Yesterday was perhaps the single most awful day I’ve had in a long time.

I’ve been overwrought for a while now preparing for my first BIG presentation this semester.  I managed to secure the ever terrifying “first presentation for department’s new professor” slot for one of my classes.  Professor Y is wonderful and extremely supportive, but that only goes so far to allay the panic.  There is (of course) a certain degree of concern that goes into any major presentation, but I would say that I get more stressed over presentations for professors I like than those for professors I do not like.  At least with a bad professor you can blame any fault in your work on his teaching methodologies (warning: only goes so far) and/or bemoan your state with your colleagues afterwards.  When you do work for a good professor, there’s the greater fear of not measuring up to her standards or even (gulp) disappointing her.

Suffice to say that I’ve been HARD at work to ensure that this does not happen.  That in itself was enough to send me into crazy stress mode, but to top it off a few things happened in my personal life that simply broke the frazzled camel’s back.  And, at the pinnacle of my misery, I received a rejection from a journal to which I had submitted an article.  Not a huge deal and totally expected (really, publishing is a numbers game and finding the right fit for your work), but it definitely was the rancid cherry on top of my sewer sundae.

I’ve spoken a great deal about “survival mode” in the past few months and I realized that perhaps now was a good time to take a moment and really quantify this.  How, when you’re bawling messily into a hastily grabbed handful of tissue so that you don’t drip onto the piles of work laid out for you, do you cope?  How do you pull yourself together and still manage to make your deadlines, and (perhaps more importantly) do so with panache?

Well, let me tell you how I do it.  It’s not easy (I would go so far as to say it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done… and that includes surviving two years as a little white girl in Newark without getting shot or robbed), but it is possible.

Survival mechanism number one: understand that THIS IS YOUR JOB.  It may not be like everyone else’s job, you may do most of your work sitting in your PJs at home, but it is still a valid vocation and you get paid to do it (well… usually… if not, then you may way to re-evaluate your life choices).  Everyone has off-days.  Everyone does a certain degree of facebook surfing while at their desk.  But if you can recognize that your PhD is a FULL-TIME PROFESSIONAL GIG, it will go a long way towards mending your mindset about your work.

Survival mechanism number two: always keep a glass of water (or tea, or coffee) nearby.  This ensures that you stay hydrated and gives you built-in breaks at regular intervals to refill or pause for potty breaks.  Just make sure that those breaks remain short.

Survival mechanism number three: take care of yourself.  Eat well, sleep at least eight hours a night, and get your lazy bones to the gym.  It means that you get sick less and you feel your best (which is important when you’re grappling with the GIANT IDEAS floating around your head and on your desk).  Also it means you can carry more library books without getting winded.

Survival mechanism number four: your friends are your friends.  They are part of your life for a reason and, when things really go to hell, they are there to support you.  Don’t be afraid to tell someone that you need help.  They may not be able to do your research for you, but they can probably at least bring by dinner and give you a hug.  This was KEY to getting through my day yesterday.

Survival mechanism number five: know how and when to reward yourself.  Sometimes

oh, Ru!

I deserve a beer.  Sometimes I deserve a cookie.  Sometimes I deserve an hour or two drooling on the couch while watching bad TV shows.  Sometimes I deserve all of those things combined.  Understand what it is that you need to give yourself at the end of a hard day, and make sure that you do.  Remember the sage words of Ru Paul, “If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?”

Survival mechanism number six: know when you have done enough and it is time to walk away.  Seriously.  You will always have more work to do.  I sometimes write lists of things that I MUST accomplish today, and things that can get bumped until tomorrow.  Set daily work goals.  When you meet your daily goal, STOP.  If you meet it early, STOP EARLY.  This is especially important during finals time when you-time is at a premium; remember that regular 9-5ers work for 7-8 hours a day.  If you are like me and up and at your computer by 8:15, working until 8 or 9 PM is, actually, a twelve-hour day.  Enough is enough.

Survival mechanism number seven: say it with me, “I am awesome, my work is important and pertinent, my department chose me out of hundreds of other applicants for a reason, and they haven’t kicked me out yet so I must be doing something right”.  I am particularly bad at this one and need reminding fairly frequently.  Luckily, I have mentors, friends, and colleagues who are very good at reminding me.  Implement a system for yourself that gives you some validation for your work; whether this means blogging, putting it out there more often, meeting with colleagues for coffee, more hours in your mentor’s office, increased e-mails home, or whatever you need to do.  If you don’t believe this, nobody else will.

Survival mechanism number eight: keep a bookmark folder of things that make you laugh.  Extra points if it has to do with your area of expertise!  Here are a few from mine:

Shakespeare gotta get paid, son

SHAKESCAT!

Good luck and godspeed my friends.  Here’s hoping my week picks up, and that yours isn’t anywhere near as awful.

Follow the Yellow-Brick Road

Have you ever been working on something for so long and so hard that eventually the result simply feels like a dream?  Dreamt about something enough and, when it becomes a reality, you feel as though you’ve fallen asleep in class rather than brought the castle down from its cloud?

To make any claim other than I feel like I’ve been wandering the land of Oz for the past month and a half would be an outright lie.  I’m not in Kansas anymore and, while Jerry may not be Toto, he is rather fuzzy.

This week, two things happened which worked to either cement the Oz fantasy or prove to

of course, I'd need some stylish ruby slippers... though they aren't quite practical for lugging library books

me that yes, this is really happening, and I am exactly where I’ve pictured myself for so very long.

Thing number one: I wrote (or rather co-wrote) and submitted a course application to the experimental college at Tufts.  This included drafting my own syllabus.  I selected books.  I assigned readings.  I thought about pacing and assignments and grading!  I even went through and tried to pick my favorite edition of Shakespeare (it’s like picking a favorite child for me… I kind of collect Complete Works).  And at the end of it, there it was, my name at the top of the syllabus listed as “instructor”.

Well that’s a rush.

At this point in my life, syllabi have become more than pieces of paper; they are a way of life.  My first syllabus was gifted to me my Senior year of high school by my humanities instructor (a certain Susan Sabatino at the Professional Performing Arts School in New York City…. Yea, I went to the fame school.  Yea, it was kind of exactly like the movie.  Yea, I have some stories to tell…).  This is perhaps made more poignant by the fact that my partner in crime for this endeavor is an individual whom I roamed those hallowed halls with.  But I digress.

When Ms. Sab passed the syllabus out that first day of class, she said “this bit of paper is worth its weight in gold.  No, not gold, platinum.”

And thus my relationship with the syllabus began.  I don’t think one can possibly understand the impact that those little bits of paper can have on one’s life.  At first they seem odd; assignments?  Due dates?  A plan for the ENTIRE SEMESTER?  What is this?  Eventually, though, one begins to love the syllabus.  It dictates one’s schedule for the week, month, year.  It lovingly reminds one of course expectations in one’s hour of need.  It benevolently smiles down at one from on high with vital information about office hours, contact information, and due dates.  It holds the answers to the questions that govern one’s existence like “do I ever catch a break?” and “what week can I plan to sleep in a little bit?”

As one proceeds into one’s higher education, one lives by the syllabus and dies by the syllabus.  A lifeline.  A sword.  A shield.  Everything one needed to know about class but was too afraid to ask.  The gatekeeper.  The keymaster.

Those stone tablets sent from on high brought down by a holy messenger anointed by the Glorious one.

But oh look how those tables have turned.

In writing a syllabus, we were inscribing the tablets.  We were creating destiny.  We were being deified.

behold the glory

As I printed the applications (including these diagrams of the future), I couldn’t help but be elated.  This was, perhaps, real.  I had, perhaps, arrived.

…or maybe I was just with the Scarecrow on the Yellow Brick Road.

So my printer needs a vacation in the Bahamas for its service this past week (five copies of an application plus all sundry materials… each application ran about 20 pages… my poor baby).  But… it’s done.  And I am so very excited.

Thing number two:  I received my first ever review copy of a scholarly book of which I shall be writing a review sometime in the next few months which will (gods willing) be published!  Words cannot express my jubilation.  No, seriously, every time I try I wind up devolving into some high-pitched girly squealing of exhilaration and jumping around a little bit.

I don’t want to say too much about the book, or about the journal (you know, in case things don’t work out or something), but I will say this: Shakespeare (that’s kind of a duh for me).  The book (or books, rather, it will be a double review) are about Shakespeare.  They’re both new, interesting, and engaging scholarship.  One is probably more in line with my specific research interests than the other, but I am open, willing, and ready, to love both of them.  There is space in my heart (and on my bookshelves) for anything that doesn’t grind my man Will into the dust (Oxfordians, you have no power here, be gone before someone drops a house on you).

>symBIOtically

>

With my heart skipping beats for fear of typos and my hands trembling for fear of writing some unknown academic faux pas in the cover e-mail, I have finally taken the leap.
I just submitted my first abstract for publication.
The volume is a book which will be published in 2012 and is set to be the foundational text for the new MA program in Vampire Literature at the University of Hertfordshire.  The papers selected are mostly being pulled from the 2010 conference (“Open Graves, Open Minds”) at which I was supposed to present, but was rudely prevented from leaving the country by an errant volcanic eruption.  Seriously.  You can’t make this stuff up, people.
The CFP requested an 800-900-word abstract of the paper (yay for already having written it! Abstracts are so much easier when the paper actually exists!) along with a 200 word bio.
I hate writing bios almost as much as I hate writing personal statements.  The only thing that mitigates the bio from being the most detested form of personal writing is the fact that by the time the bio is requested, one has usually already been accepted into conference, panel, etc. of the requester.  While I do have to impress with my bio, nothing hinges on it.  The people reading it are already stuck with me (or about to be stuck with me if it’s going to be read aloud somewhere).
As you may have noticed by now, I do things slightly differently.  I’m not the most reverent of conference presenters (though my papers are meticulous and utterly professional).  I bring slideshows.  I am energetic.  I don’t read straight from a sheet of paper.  In short, I perform.  In the bio, I have no chance to do that.  It’s like asking me to take myself and cram it into two hundred words.  There’s no room for personality in two hundred words!  More importantly, if you’re asking to look at a bio, you want to see how professional I can be, not how charming.  I can be professional, I assure you, but I’d much rather be charming.  It comes more naturally to me and (frankly) I think I’m better at it.
Part of me hesitated briefly and wondered if the British academes wouldn’t be thrilled by an utterly irreverent bio.  I mean, they are British after all!  Their country birthed Monty Python and Red Dwarf!  They must have senses of humor! 
….but if they didn’t, then I’d be really up the creek without a paddle.  I’m already at a disadvantage for being a mere lowly graduate student, I really shouldn’t discredit myself any further with witticisms over content.  Even if they were going to be spectacular witticisms. 
So I sent them a serious bio.  But I just couldn’t help myself… I had to write the silly one.  It called to me with its siren song, longing to be birthed into the world.  Since I didn’t send it to them (and since I figure if you’re still reading this blog I haven’t offended you with my offbeat points of view), I’m sticking it here for you to read and enjoy.
Danielle Rosvally is a recovering actor who earned a BA in legos from New York University.  After realizing that she had neither the patience, diligence nor social anxiety to qualify as a real computer scientist, she shifted her focus and instead set to studying something her parents (and good senses) told her she would never make into a viable career: Elizabethan Theatre.
In addition to her University education, she has also studied both the theory and practice of classical theatre at the American Globe Theatre, The Actor’s Institute, The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, The Royal Shakespeare Company and Shakespeare & Company.  None of these institutions knew quite what to make of her, so she turned to Rutgers for an MA in English.  They don’t know what to make of her either.
Her primary research interests are in the practical application of theatrical scholarship as well as theatricality in traditionally non-canonical texts (whatever that means).  She is a TA in the Rutgers Newark performing and visual arts department where she works with minions towards her greater purpose of world domination via Shakespeare in the classroom.  She also works as an independent educator in Shakespeare scholarship, acting and stage combat.  It’s a lot easier to bend the masses towards world domination when she doesn’t have a neurotic professor breathing down her neck.  She hopes to be a mostly benevolent dictator, but firmly believes that poor grammar is a high crime worthy of being striped down, placed in the town square, tarred, feathered, then stoned to death.  Unless it’s her own grammar, of course, that she will blame on the poor graduate student who edits her papers.
You may follow her exploits via her blog at http://blackswanditty.blogspot.com
…so if you’ve got one of your own, I’d love to read it.  I really think one can tell more about a person by their sense of humor than their accomplishments.  It shows how willing he is to throw it all away and talk like a regular human rather than recitational parrot.  And anyone who can dispense with the traps of formality can easily prove that he actually knows the material in his heart rather than just in his head.  More importantly, it shows that a person isn’t too proud to laugh at himself.  And, my friends, I don’t care how many degrees I have.  If I ever lose that ability, please take me out to pasture with a none-too-friendly literary smack-down and bludgeon me to death with a Complete Works.  It will be well past my time to go.