- Engaging in, or desisting from, an activity for a year, usually with a book contract in mind.
Writing recently for The New Yorker, Jessica Weisberg asked “What do Julie Powers and Hunter S. Thompson have in common? ‘Annualism’”:Coined recently by the BBC, Annualism refers to a breed of literary stuntmen who commit to an activity – abstaining from sex, growing their own food, saying yes to every question – for three hundred and sixty-five days, and write a book about it afterward.Finlo Rohrer cited a number of examples of annualism in an article for the BBC, including: “How I Lived a Year on Just a Pound a Day,” by Kath Kelly and “Bonfire of the Brands,” by Neil Boorman. Rohrer observed:And of course, many would argue that there is nothing wrong with a journalist putting themselves at the centre of the story. What binds all the “annualist” titles together is that while their “year-long ordeal” might be classified as a stunt, they have serious things to say about their subject matter and its importance to society.When a journalist goes to live in the country, or tries to be environmentally-minded for a year, one can see where they are coming from.And there is a long and honourable history of “stunt” journalism. It goes all the way back to Nellie Bly, the pioneering American journalist.In 1887, she infiltrated an asylum by pretending to be mentally ill in order to investigate conditions there. Her expose, Ten Days in a Mad-House, outlined the grim conditions, rotten food, and beatings that constituted the life of patients. As well as being a literary sensation, it caused an outcry and an investigation that led to more funding and better conditions for the asylums.
Dictionary of unconsidered lexicographical trifles. 2014.