Individuality & Solidarity

Prompts to consider when developing your unique content.

Conceptualizing Your Website

On this page, we offer an exciting set of suggestions, framing questions, and prompts for you to brainstorm different sections of your website, and reflect on how you want to present yourself and share your work at large.

The pressures of the ivory tower can sometimes scare us into thinking that we must present ourselves solely through our institutional affiliations or through a long list of our accomplishments and publications, lest anyone should think that we are not a "rigorous" scholar." These concerns are especially urgent for those whom the academy has typically marked as suspicious, inadequate, or illegible, such as graduate students and faculty of color, first-generation students, non-traditional students, independent scholars, openly queer academics, and non-tenure track faculty. So often, those who belong to these groups are pressured into presenting themselves in a certain way because they face loud claims that their work is not "really" valuable, or that they were selected or hired not because of their intellectual acumen, life experience, work ethic, or pedagogical efficacy, but to tick a diversity box.

Yet we know that these loud claims are myths that those who see themselves as gatekeepers of the ivory tower have fabricated. They have done so because they, too, live in fear. They are watching another generation of scholars emerge: a generation that is not only far more radical in its intellectual, social, and political sensibilities, but a generation who—having witnessed countless institutional betrayals, deeply exploitative working conditions, and unacceptable abuses of power by tenured professors—are now developing new perspectives about what the academy is, what it can become, how we should treat one another, and how we should do the work we do.

In line with our charter's commitment to "decenter[ing] performance and rigor in favor of generosity, joy, and experimentation," we have constructed these resources to help you write about yourself and share your work along the intertwined principles of individuality and solidarity that we outlined in our teaching philosophy. Beating at the heart of our pedagogical emphasis on "molding of the free personality" is our hope that you will feel more empowered to be true to yourself, and to share that self with the world online.

We suggest that this brainstorming process take place prior to website creation and coding. The materials created here will be used when you start building your site.


The following prompts were crafted to encourage you to consider ways your personal website can reflect your "free personality," as theorized by anarchist philosopher Max Stirner. (There is a more in-depth discussion about how Stirner's work on individuality influenced our pedagogical approach here.) Academics, especially young and early-career academics and those from marginalized groups, are consistently advised to hide their individuality in digital spaces. Our project critiques the idea that including life outside our CVs on our websites is "unprofessional." What could the academy look like if we were all more authentic about who we are and insisted on a university that supports us in this endeavor?

We hope that these exercises will provoke insight into different methods you can use to help your website reveal your free personality. We have also included examples of personal websites by academics that inspired our suggestions.

About Page

When describing ourselves, we often fall back on rote, flat-affect templates where we list our institutional affiliations or awards. Yet these titles are not the only dimensions that comprise who we are, or they do little by way of showing why we have chosen to focus on the particular kinds of research, teaching, and service that we produce.

Why do you do the work you do? What drew you to higher education? How have you changed since then—and what keeps you going? What is most important to you? What is least important to you? What are your hopes for the future? Writing an About page focused on questions like these might help us all understand each other and our work with more depth, sincerity, and generosity, and we have provided some prompts and exercises below for you to get started.

Free Writing

Courtesy Brandon Walsh
  1. Don't judge what you write
  2. Feel free to use the first person
  3. Keep your fingers typing, your pen moving, etc.
  4. Be honest. Don't write what you think someone else wants to hear.
  1. Start with a two-sentence description of what you studied in school. Then, begin writing for 6 minutes using this prompt: "I went to school so order to...because..." If you get stuck, return to the prompt and start a new sentence, "I went to school because..."
  2. Find a childhood photograph of yourself that speaks to you in some way. If you do not have access to a photograph, you can use a childhood memory. You will know you have the right photo or memory by how it makes you feel, you will be compelled by it in some way. Write about it for 6 minutes. Let you feelings about it reveal themselves to you through free-write.
  3. Write about your first day of school in higher education. Be descriptive. What sounds, smells, sights greeted you on the first day? What did the campus look like? What was the feeling in the air? Who did you meet? What was the weather like? What time of year was it? What one or two things really stand out in your memory? Describe everything you are able.

Come back to your free-writes after a break and take a moment to reflect. What are some of the questions that surfaced as you were writing? Where did you linger? Where did you stop? Why did you stop? If you had a hard time writing, why is that so?

Using your insights from your own writing plus your inspiration examples, create a few different drafts of your own biography. Consider how your personal experiences, hobbies, and identity contribute to the work you do. Try writing one a paragraph long, one a page long, and one a sentence long.


Below, we provide some autobiographical blurbs that we thought were especially inspirational.

Alternatives to Free Writing

If you don't feel comfortable expressing your story through a written narrative, there are other ways to express your individuality in your website's biography. See the "my surrounds" section of our tutorial for some suggestions on how to invoke your free personality through music, food, art, anything that sparks joy in your life. Some other examples that we saw in our research included creating a map of the different locations one has worked, studied, and lived, and making a photo slideshow of one's desk or office.



Headshots are obviously not mandatory but if you do decide to provide one, we invite you to reflect on what you want that image to convey. As students who live and study at the University of Virginia, we are aware that our campus was not only built by enslaved laborers but also architecturally designed in ways that sought to separate white students and faculty from Black communities and reinforce white supremacy. That is why—for our team at least—we have resisted taking headshots that center locations like the Rotunda, the Grecian columns, or the serpentine walls.

Instead, we have sought to consider how our headshots can reflect who we are, as a scholar and as a person, and we offer these questions to you as well. Is there an outfit, a hairstyle, a color, a space that makes you feel most like yourself? Can you list some adjectives you want the headshot to convey? Are there any objects or particular settings that would help express your identity?

Perhaps you already have a favorite photograph of yourself that expresses your free personality. What is your favorite photo of yourself? Why do you like it? Could you use this photo for your headshot? If not, consider how you could incorporate characteristics of this image into your new headshot.


Below we offer some examples of headshots that we felt captured the individuals' personalities particularly well.


We recognize that the university is often a hostile institution, especially for populations who are deemed suspect, and those who are unable to—or refuse to—engage with the university on its dehumanizing terms, or abide by its racialized and capitalist logics. It is for this reason that Fred Moten and Stefano Harney have conceptualized these populations as forming an “undercommons,” a community that operates simultaneously within and outside the university, comprising those whose labor the university relies on but whose ideas and worth the university rejects. Governing the undercommons is the belief that one must strive to be “in but not of” (26) the university, a phrase that was initially uttered by W.E.B. Du Bois when he was reflecting on his time as one of the few Black men at Harvard University in the late nineteenth century.

“. . . [I]t cannot be denied that the university is a place of refuge, and it cannot be accepted that the university is a place of enlightenment. In the face of these conditions one can only sneak into the university and steal what one can. To abuse its hospitality, to spite its mission, to join its refugee colony, its gypsy encampment, to be in but not of – this is the path of the subversive intellectual in the modern university.”

In the spirit of being “in but not of” the university, we encourage you to think about how you could use your website to build solidarity across the academy. What does fostering solidarity with others in your department and your field mean to you? How might we all support one another inside and outside of the academy, and why does this matter?

Below we have provided some suggestions of other sections you might consider adding to your website in order to practice the type of solidarity that feels right for you. We have also provided examples of other graduate student and faculty websites that have inspired our suggestions—and we hope that they, too, will inspire you.


  • May Plumb: We were inspired by Plumb's website—particularly the Resources section—which we have used as a starting point for making many of the suggestions we have outlined above. She includes a land acknowledgement and an equity statement on the front page. While such statements are usually used in projects or institutions, she wrote separate statements that were specific to her own positionality as a scholar. She also provides several resources for people coming to her website, such as a list of grants for other students to apply for in her field (linguistics), samples of grant and funding applications that she submitted, as well as book recommendations for learning more about the subject that she is studying.
  • Jorge Lucero: We were inspired by Jorge Lucero's decision to show the various drafts of his teaching statement, revealing the evolution of his pedagogy over time.
  • Lauren Garcia: We were inspired by Lauren Garcia's playful and powerful bio and headshot that capture her individuality, as well as the way she centers her organizing alongside her academic work.

Land Acknowledgement

We encourage you to consider including a land acknowledgement on your site if you are living, working, and producing research on the homelands of native peoples. This process involves doing research about what a land acknowledgement is, as well as the indigenous history of the locations that you need to acknowledge. It is important to know the indigenous people who stewarded the land in the past and who live there presently, as well as the history of any treaties that apply to that land.

This process is meant to be contemplative, not rushed. As land acknowledgements have become more widely adopted, their popularity and repetition has spurred a conversation about whether they truly disrupt colonial dynamics, or if they are becoming empty gestures. Metis writer ​​âpihtawikosisân, for example, has encouraged us to move beyond the rote copy-and-paste acknowledgement, and toward having direct conversations with indigenous communities and highlighting their expectations and needs. If being in conversation with indigenous communities is not an available option for you, another starting point might be to highlight local native activism in your area, or express solidarity with the broader landback movement.

Below are some additional resources to assist you in researching and writing a land acknowledgement:

  • Native Land Digital:

    This is an interactive map that allows users to identify the native peoples, languages, and treaties specific to particular locations. They also have a guide and collection of resources for writing a land acknowledgment.

  • Land Acknowledgement Toolkit by California Indian Culture and Sovereignty Center and California State University San Marcos American Indian Studies
  • A Guide to Indigenous Land Acknowledgement by the Native Governance Center
  • These are two step-by-step guides to writing land acknowledgements that we found helpful. The CICSC toolkit is specific to California, but any location can be substituted.

A Solidarity Statement

A solidarity statement can be a place to directly address the injustices that exist in the institutions where we work. This is a space to name the various types of bigotry–racism, misogyny, and homophobia to name a few– that are perpetuated on our campuses and upheld by academic institutions. We were inspired by portfolio sites in which academics called out their disciplines’ histories in perpetuating white supremacy and colonialism, to give an example.

A solidarity statement is a space in which you can provide the context for the solidarity resources on your site. If you decide to provide access to your thesis, dissertation, or publications as PDFs, we encourage you to use this statement to explain why you want to make your work accessible beyond journal paywalls and library databases. This is an opportunity to provide information about open access and potentially convince a peer who might never have thought about publishing openly before. The Undercommons itself was published openly online, through the Minor Compositions imprint of the radical press Autonomedia.

This solidarity statement can be a place to describe difficulties in navigating the “hidden curriculum” of the academy, especially for students and faculty who are of color, first generation, from the working class, and other groups that are read as unworthy, inadequate, or “unprofessional,” members of the undercommons. We are inspired by personal websites that include resources to help others with the crucial aspects of academic work often not taught in classes, like applying for grants, writing teaching statements, and creating syllabi. We encourage you to take the time to explain how including your grant applications, syllabi, or teaching statements is an act of solidarity.

The solidarity statement is also a place to highlight the people and organizations doing work that aligns with your values and/or research. Does your university have a union or a Black student alliance or any other groups that you want to express solidarity with or with a message you would like to elevate? Is there activism going on in your community that you think is important? This is also a space one could write about their own activist work. Make sure to include links to the organizations you discuss so readers can connect.

Including a solidarity statement and resources on your site can be a small rebellion against academic institutions' attempt to turn us into privatized, professionalized, competitive individuals and a move towards creating a more compassionate, generous space within the univerisity.

Grant database for your field

If you have already done the work combing databases for the opportunities that fit you and your research, publishing a list of these on your site can help save colleagues from repeating this work and missing out on funding opportunities they might not have found otherwise.

Grant applications

Writing successful grant applications is one of the most important parts of academia's hidden curriculum. Those who receive the guidance necessary to do this well and are able to win funding gain time, money, and an advantage on getting future grants. Reading successful and unsuccessful grant application examples is one of the most helpful ways to learn how to write a grant application.

PDFs of theses, dissertations, publications

Folks who do not have access to an academic library database may be interested in reading your work. We encourage you to consider publishing your thesis or dissertation under an open access creative commons license and writing for open access journals, but you can also include PDFs of your work on your website.

Teaching statements and syllabi

Writing teaching statements and syllabi are a piece of the hidden curriculum that is important for job applications but is not often taught in classes.

Consider showing the process of drafting, progress on a project

Often academics only reveal finished work as if it appeared from the ether. What could the academy look like if we revealed more about the messy process of projects as they develop?

Resources for learning about the field outside of an institution

Consider that there may be folks without access to university libraries or databases who want to learn more about your field. What kind of resources would you point them towards? Perhaps, you might provide some PDFs of important work that could be difficult for those outside the academy to access. This is an opportunity to research what kind of open access materials there are in your field and share them with others.