The name’s Jacqueline, but you can call me J. I’m writing to you as OpEd’s newest-born intern and am happy to have an opportunity tell you small bits about myself and why I’m here, so, here goes –
Today’s my first official day interning at The OpEd Project, and it’s Friday the 13th – more cause to celebrate(?), to go and be giddy about this latest and most exciting venture in my pursuit of (self) knowledge, legitimacy, and immersion in a practical and productive and relevant mode of activism (more buzzwords!, bare with yer girl).
As it currently stands I’m an M.A. candidate in NYU’s Gallatin School for Individualized Study. My work’s about aberrant (or non-normative) identity and “madwomen” as related to the existence, diagnosis, treatment, and language used to talk about eating disorders – a project borne of my own institutionalization and recovery (I was labeled as “Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified,” amongst other diagnoses). For me it’s all about writing, about (re)constructing the disordered “Self” through language. But I’ve gone on too long about that already and, as you can probably tell, I must consciously work to keep my prolixity in check. Yikes.
The shortest version is that I’m here to conduct, organize, and distribute research within and without this organization. Perhaps I’ll come to call myself a “Curator of Information,” which sounds funny but fits the bill. So hopefully you’ll all come to know me as the great and wonderful bearer-and-sharer of articles, studies, op-eds, academic papers, films, books, and beyond. I’ll also be producing online content (more blogs to come!) about everything that OpEd cares about, myself included – along with opening the conversation about other important, relevant issues and ideas.
Speaking of, perhaps I’ll end with a snippet from Elaine Showalter’s critical revisionist text Hystories, a book I’m reading as part of the research for my thesis. It’s to the point, promise, and a preview of things to come –
Medical sociologists today argue that women are more likely to seek medical and therapeutic help, thus to predominate in statistical studies [of hysteria]. On the other hand, Mark Pendgrast suggests that women may actually be conduits for the hysteria of a culture; women, he writes, have long been socially encouraged to “act out the ‘symptom pool’ of the era and accept an inappropriate diagnosis.” (p. 55, emphasis mine)
– so, here, we are concerned about women in the context of modern culture writ large and, further, in the context of common humanity; and we must come to ask ourselves questions about representation and visibility: how we represent ourselves, how others represent us, how information represents culture, and how amassed culture reflects or denies our estimations of it.