As I’ve said in other blogs, I appreciate the wonderful changes taking place in the world thanks to the advent of the Internet. One of those changes is the way in which a single-author book, like Rachel Evan’s book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, becomes a multi-author ongoing conversation. This short essay I wrote for my digital media class explains how this works:
I have first-hand experience with serial structure or “digital storytelling as ‘segmented art’” (41) as a blogger who gives voice to the de-churched ecclesia, one day at a time. However, my readers have the opportunity to “connect these [seemingly disjointed] moments and mentally construct a continuous, unified reality” (41) through the structural design of participation also known as the “blogosphere.” To demonstrate how this works, I will use the example of a chapter-by-chapter blog series book review I’m writing.
I got an email in October 2012 asking if I would like to be part of the launch team for Rachel Evans’ book, “A Year of Biblical Womanhood,” which became a New York Times Best Seller in November 2012. To me, being part of this team basically means, you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. What’s in it for me? A free book and maybe a little bit of increase in blog traffic. What’s in it for her? Free marketing. I’m being totally transparent here.
“Biblical,” in my mind, is synonymous with “oppression.” I’ve seen and experienced first-hand some pretty stupid ideas about what it means to be a Biblical woman. “Biblical” is a hijacked word. In regular blog posts, I have been approaching this subject from a first-person autobiographical perspective, but as part of the launch team, I have the opportunity to write from a third-person perspective in a social framework involving other bloggers and their audiences. We’ve been linking to each others blogs, basically rewriting or editing Evan’s story within the frameworks of our own individual experiences in comment sections, on Facebook pages, Twitter, and other social media. In other words, Evan’s book is no longer just a book with one author, it has mutated (in a good way) into something more, becoming a “multiple proscenia” (42) experience. For example, I am only on chapter four, yet reading and viewing audiences across America have been exposed through People magazine, The View, CBC Radio, The Today Show, etc. My blog readers may be experiencing the “timeshifting” (43) effect of multiple proscenia as they follow along with Evan’s book at the pace I have chosen to set.
In digital storytelling, Evan’s story evolves according to the “additive and expressive” platforms of those who present Evan’s experience in their own time and way. The story evolves and expands in its many, varied retellings. At first, the plan felt contrived from the start, like a publicity stunt. I asked, “Is Evans REALLY trying to be that kind of woman? and if the answer is yes, SHOULD she? If the answer is no, then what’s the point of the book?” I feel differently now, as is evidenced in this excerpt from my most recent blog post in this series: “Some church-goers think all hell will break loose if women wiggle their way out from under the patriarchal thumb. It’s easy to forget that people still think, believe, and teach stupidity in little church-worlds that only allow people to think, believe, and teach said stupidity so that people like Rachel Evans have to endure a shit-storm of even more stupidity for daring to question stupidity. Pack that religious junk back into the box and put it by the curb, because even GoodWill doesn’t want it. It’s just a bad memory. Time to move on, ladies.”
Alexander, Bryan. The New Digital Storytelling: Creating Narratives With New Media. Santa Barbara: Praeger, 2011. Print.
Evans, Rachel Held. A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Hear, and Calling Her Husband Master. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2012. PDF.