I joined Twitter some 9 years ago. Ever since, I’ve been having a torrid affair with my social platform of choice. Love, hate, obsession, depression, these are but a few of the affective swings of the Twitter pendulum, at least for this user. For the first few years, I was a somewhat recalcitrant (read also: forgetful) tweeter. I hadn’t found my groove, or my own comfort levels about navigating the public/private mushiness that characterizes social media. Things changed with the discovery (to me) of #MedievalTwitter, the hashtag around which a substantial medievalist community coalesces. Finally, I’d found my people.
All that observing, and then frenetic engaging, made me think about Twitter more seriously, more analytically. And so, [redacted] years ago, the idea for Medieval Twitter was hatched. It’s my second book, forthcoming with Medieval Institute Publications. Chapters dig into the ways in which Twitter is not just some newfangled discourse-lite, but instead part of a much longer history of textuality. There are, I argue, clear resonances with frameworks of textual production, reception and criticism from the Middle Ages. But any discussion of “medieval Twitter” must discuss “#MedievalTwitter” - I’m pretty sure it’s the law. And so in the book’s Introduction, I examine the hashtag and its attendant community too.
If it’s not clear already, I have warm feelings about Twitter and its potential, with #MedievalTwitter, to be an inclusive, supportive space for ongoing dialogue, bringing together experts and non-experts alike. Yet, there are some uncomfortable truths that must be acknowledged. As a marketplace of ideas, #MedievalTwitter is not equally open to all, particularly in terms of intellectual gatekeeping and online visibility. Twitter is also a Nazi-riddled swamp which facilitates the harassment of anyone who is deemed to “deserve” it, i.e. those without the privileges of whiteness, cis-heterosexuality, male-ness and able-bodied normativity. #MedievalTwitter is imperfect and affirming and flawed and fantastic, all at once.
These are my own thoughts, but I’d like to hear from other #MedievalTwitterati about how they use the hashtag, and why - and their thoughts more generally on the #MedievalTwitter community and culture. So I’ve set up an online anonymous survey to find out more, with responses informing the discussion in Medieval Twitter’s introductory chapter. It’s embedded below, so you can fill it out without navigating away from this page. Or, use this link: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/ZWFCNPT. Feel free to share details of the survey far and wide. Thank you in advance for taking the time to reflect on your usage of Twitter in this way, and share your opinions on #MedievalTwitter - the good, the bad and otherwise. You’ve got till the 3rd October 2019 (11.45pm BST, to be precise) to get your responses in.