Working on a memoir is always a dangerous proposition. Our memories are shaped by our perception and our perception is achingly subjective. Whenever we step into that glorious, thorny territory of retelling our lives, we end up running into conflicting accounts experienced by those whose own subjective memories tell a slightly—or completely—different story of what we experienced alongside them. Negotiating those perspectives takes courage and a willingness to reevaluate your past and your sense of who you are. I was fortunate to have taught a course in which eight brave women were willing and able to walk into their versions of the past and explore, reevaluate, theorize, and create new ways of understanding what they saw in themselves and in those who had shared their paths. This book belongs to Brooke, Les, Jaquetta, Lauren, Shewonda, Mirabeth, Naomi, and Suban and to the exquisite magic they weave through their work here. I am thankful for all they taught me during our time together.
Pixelating the Self would not have been possible if the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures at Michigan State University did not create so many possibilities for faculty to be creative when it comes to their pedagogy. Under the guidance of my mentors Malea Powell, Bill Hart-Davidson, Jeff Grabill, and Danielle DeVoss, I was able to design a course that resulted in transformative conversations for us and powerful scholarship for readers/viewers/listeners to enjoy and get lost in.
A lot of our thinking on the course was inspired by our Skype conversations with Victor Villanueva, Cecilia Milanés, Erin Anderson, and Steph Ceraso. They not only discussed their scholarship with us but their approaches to finding a balance between life in and outside academia, the holy grail of professorial happiness.
Intermezzo has been an incredibly responsive and supportive press to work with. They have gone the distance to make sure the book becomes a reality in the shape we had originally envisioned. They took it upon themselves to remediate our original design into something more sustainable and accessible. It has not been a simple task for them and I’m incredibly thankful that they took the time and put in the effort to make it happen. I want thank Jeff Rice for being present for us (fastest editor I’ve ever encountered when it comes to writing back!) throughout the process and for finding two generative and thoughtful reviewers who helped us reshape the pieces into something more focused and impactful. Sergio Figueiredo has gone above and beyond the call of duty in making sure the remediating of our pieces is successful. Thank you for your patience and immense care for the project. Brian Gaines, Maclain Scott, and Sierra Mendez dedicated their considerable coding skills to the book and I really appreciate their dedication and attention to detail. Eric Detweiler carefully worked through our words and sentences as he copy-edited the piece. Working with Intermezzo has been a fantastic experience and I look forward to future collaborations.
Hannah Countryman, who has been my designing sister for almost three years now, created the two Pixelating the Self logos, and Valeria Obando, mi nueva hermana del diseño, designed the cover, table of contents, and navigation menu for the collection. Erin Schaeffer and Shewonda Leger provided some excellent footage for my introduction video. Jessica Gibbons and Megan Elias kindly copy-edited the transcripts for Brooke Chambers's chapter.
For the last 19 years I have not created a single piece of art or scholarship without sharing the creative experience with my husband, Nathaniel Bowler. Pixelating the Self is no different. Besides hearing me endlessly talk about the course during a whole semester and watching our sons while I taught, Nate provided some of the cinematography we see in my introduction. He also helped me untangle my thoughts as I worked through what I wanted to say in the introduction and watched countless versions of it, always providing his brilliant input to help me clarify and deepen my ideas. Here’s to many more decades of artistic creation together, my love.
My sons, William and Santiago Hidalgo-Bowler, and my mother, Antonieta Aagaard de Cardier, appear in virtually all my memoir projects. They patiently answer my questions, tell and retell stories, and let me attempt to capture their luminous essence with my camera over and over again. My mom somehow escaped being in this introduction but there are glimpses of the boys here and there. Creating memoirs, as I said, can be dangerous and often painful. With Nate, Antonieta, William, and Santiago by my side, I feel like I have the most loving, perceptive, and daring traveling companions in the perpetual journey of unraveling and reinterpreting our pasts.