Learn more about the project and our philosophy.

Ever since the advent of platforms like Twitter in 2006 and Academia.edu in 2008, the internet has played an increasingly large role in facilitating rich connections between scholars in academia, and between academics and the public at large. As more of us turn to social media platforms and personal websites in order to share our work and converse with each other across geographical, disciplinary, and institutional boundaries, however, this has also raised daunting questions about the way that academics—especially graduate students, students of color, first generation students, non-traditional students, and independent scholars—should present themselves online. The propensity of cyberbullying, subtweeting, and academic "punching down" have stressed that creating an online presence opens one up to significant social and professional risk—and, for the most vulnerable populations in academia, such a risk might not be one that they can, or want, to take. After all, our online communities are not exempt from the white, heteropatriarchal, elitist, and neoliberal gaze that continues to shape our classrooms, conferences, journals, departments, universities, and the ivory tower at large. Under these conditions, then, what should a personal website do? Should we bother to make one at all—and, if so, what should it look like? How much can we share about our lives, our passions, and our work outside of the rote categories of research, teaching, and service before our website is perceived as "unprofessional"? Should our websites function strictly as a "branding" tool for extending our CVs in order to attract potential employers, or can they become something more fruitful, something more—dare we say—revolutionary?

Our open educational resource, [Your Name Here], aims to empower others with the coding skills and the confidence to create a personal website that reflects who they are and what they value to the public. Inspired by critical pedagogy, anarchist education, and our own experiences in graduate school, our pedagogical method centers individuality and solidarity. Students learning from our project will return to these ideas repeatedly as they create their own portfolio sites. The German anarchist philosopher Max Stirner wrote in his influential 1842 work The False Principle of Our Education, "pedagogy ought to espouse the molding of the free personality as its starting point and objective." Rather than simply offering tutorials about the basics of CSS/HTML and Git/GitHub (those types of resources are plentiful), the molding of the free personality is the starting point of our project. We want to invite students to explore their authentic selves, and then guide them to express those selves online in a portfolio website. We offer ourselves up as anarchist cheerleaders and a support system with the goal of helping burgeoning scholars believe in themselves, their true selves (rather than the selves they might perform in a seminar classroom or at a conference), enough to let that authenticity appear on their website. Perhaps engaging in the process can crack open a realization that one doesn't have to be a generic academic robot online or IRL, that one doesn't have to listen to advice that says "the earlier you are in your career, the more conservative you should be'' about including "personal" content on a website, or in the classroom, or in other professional settings.

As we teach students how to write computational code, we also want to invite them to re-code academia through their website. How could you use your site to make grad school's hidden curriculum more legible, or to make scholarship in your field, your department, or your university more equitable? Our own portfolio sites which were created using these methods, will offer encouragement and act as an example of what our project hopes to inspire in others. We will invite students to consider how they can use their sites to demonstrate solidarity with others, as any good anarchist knows that individuality without solidarity only leads to trouble. Many of the suggestions that we make throughout the project are inspired by other graduate students who have created websites that go beyond displaying their CV, such as posting successful (and not successful) grant applications, creating a grant database for one's field, and sharing work openly around journal paywalls or outside library databases.

Our goal is that students who go through our tutorial will create a personal website that captures a bit of the unique, ever-changing story of who they are, that they feel empowered to show that site to the public, and that they use their site as a space to practice solidarity in the academy. As Paolo Freire writes, we are "beings in the process of becoming." Our pedagogical method and the websites students create will reflect this becoming.


Why should I write my own code instead of using WordPress or another content management system that does it for me? Can I just use WordPress if I want?

Of course! Coding is by no means mandatory to creating your website, nor is it a requirement for calling yourself a digital humanist. As a resource that is especially committed to serving graduate students, students of color, and other marginalized and contingent folks in the academy, we're mindful here of Catherine Knight Steele's timely reminder in Digital Black Feminism that privileging coding as the only legitimate digital skillset can not only risk erasing other types of digital expertise, but that coding communities have also frequently devalued the work developed by Black girls and women. Our resources therefore focus on helping you conceptualize your website, but how you go on to build that website is totally up to you. You can use our brainstorming pages in order to plan your website and then build it using WordPress, or you can move on to our HTML/CSS tutorials if you'd like to try writing your own code. Writing your own code will not only allow you to have more control over how your website looks if you find the templates on services like WordPress too restrictive, but it can also expand your options for digital expression in the future. Coding your own website will give you the knowledge to alter other websites—a skill that can become useful and cost-effective if you need to rejig platforms or templates designed for commercial purposes for scholarly ones later on, rather than hiring someone else to complete this work for you. More broadly, the process of coding your own website will inevitably introduce you to the world of web design as well. So, while writing code can be a daunting idea for those of us who have never done it before, we certainly hope that our project will encourage you to overcome your worries, fears, or reservations if coding is something that you wish to explore.

Who is Max Stirner?

Stirner was a nineteenth century German philosopher associated with individualist anarchism and post-Hegelian thought. His best known work, The Ego and Its Own (also known as The Individual and His Property), argued that people are motivated by their own desires or egos and should only act in self-interest. He wrote that people should disregard all social institutions, which he referred to as “spooks” or illusions, as well as alliances with others, unless it serves the individual. His ideas have been influential to a variety of philosophical and political movements across the political spectrum throughout the twentieth century to the present. We are most interested in his work on pedagogy, which argued that the most important part of education is the process in which one comes to know oneself, something we hope to work towards in our project. Broadly, he is too much of an individualist for us! You've got to balance it out with solidarity and community!

The translation of the quote from The False Principle of Our Education that we chose comes from an essay by Justin Mueller, "Anarchism, the State, and the Role of Education," in the anthology Anarchist Pedagogies: Collective Actions, Theories, and Critical Reflections on Education . The hyperlink in the statement goes to a different translation of the Stirner text on The Anarchist Library, which reads: "pedagogy must hover in front as the beginning and the aim of the education of the free personality". We thought that "pedagogy ought to espouse the molding of the free personality as its starting point and objective" was a more impactful and clear wording of this thesis, mostly due to the slightly awkward "hover in front" metaphor.