Sunday 28 March 2010

Light Sources for Examining Paper

Matthew Davis has an excellent post on "How to photograph watermarks with an electroluminescent sheet" here.

Electroluminescent sheets can be any size, but the ones that David is talking about are about A4 in size and look and feel like a laminated manila folder. Being "electro-" and "luminescent" you won't be surprised to discover that you plug them into a power source and they glow.

[The power-brick (top) and Inverter (bottom) for a CeeLite™ Electroluminescent panel]

Flat, flexible, glowing A4 sheets are very useful in bibliography because they are moderately portable and you can use them to back-light a large page without moving the book it is in from the bookrest you are consulting it on (i.e., holding it up to a window or a light). Also, being a cool, large and uniform light source, unlike a incandescent bulb or a fluorescent tube, it is very easy to use them to illuminate (and photograph) large paper features such as watermarks.

I don't have a lot to add to Mark's post in terms of function and use of these sheets, but the supplier of these electroluminescent sheets, power supplies etc in Australasia is different from those he mentions, and so I suspect that my experience getting hold of the electroluminescent sheets will be of interest to Australasian bibliographers.

[Inverter and CeeLite™ Electroluminescent panel (back)]

* * * * *

Shef Rogers visited Monash University in September 2008 to give a paper on Pope's Miscellaneous Poems and Translations (1712/1714). (The visit was organised by the Centre for the Book as a part of the Melbourne Bibliographical Circle series; details here.) He bought with him, and demonstrated the use of, an electroluminescent sheet that he had bought in New Zealand from the local representative of Flexalite.

Flexalite is—as their website will tell you—"the first and only authorised dealer of CeeLite™ LEC panels and Flatline Inverters in Australia." Unfortunately, CeeLite may be an award-winning product, but Flexalite is unlikely to ever become an award-winning retailer. Shef had some difficulty obtaining his CeeLite panel and Inverter in New Zealand, I had a lot of trouble obtaining my CeeLite panel and Inverter in Melbourne. I don't know of anyone else who has managed to get one in Australasia.

[Inverter and CeeLite™ Electroluminescent panel (front)]

The Melbourne distributor can only be contacted by mobile phone and was very "difficult" to reach by email (often not answering emails at all, or "answering" them at cross-purposes) and was only capable of sending orders by fax. I was unable to get the distributor to email me a jpeg or pdf purchase order or to post a hard copy. (It didn't help that Monash has effectively shut down its fax system and does not allow mobile calls from its phone system.)

After a very long series of frustrating emails I was eventually sent a pair of panels and inverters. I had asked for three panels—including one A5 panel—and two different inverters, one more powerful than the other. Some weeks after asking how I might return and replace the wrong inverter and obtain the A5 panel, I was sent the right inverter, but no A5 panel.

[CeeLite™ Electroluminescent panel (illuminated)]

At this point I gave up; and simply sent my money. A colleague—aware of my protracted and frustrating exchange with the local rep—was going to Sydney, which is where Flexalite is based, and was going to visit them in person. Unfortunately, when he turned up at their shop front he found that they were no longer there. They had moved! When I am next in Sydney I will try to locate their new premises and see if I can't get the "sample" (A5) panel.

Prices are similar to those reported by Matthew Davis ("the whole setup cost a little less than [US]$100"). A Ceelite Panel [AB100] 216 x 279mm [8.5 x 11 inches] is A$75.00; and a Ceelite Inverter [INV-US100-AB] is A$50.00: making A$125. The more powerful inverter [INV-FL300-AB], which puts out four amps instead of two, is the same price but makes no noticeable difference to the luminosity of the panels.

* * * * *

[CeeLite™ Electroluminescent panel (illuminating a sheet of paper)]

I have shown before how useful these panels are in illuminating watermarks in books, so I thought I would use the Ceelite to illuminate a much more complex watermark on a loose leaf of paper.

The leaf concerned is a single-page letter dated 16 September 1732 from James Leake (bookseller in Bath 1721–64) to John Nourse (bookseller in the Strand, London 1730–80). The leaf (310 x 190 mm) was folded once to make four pages, only one of which was used for writing, then had the four edges folded in before being addressed and sealed. The letter is stamped "18 / SE" (for 18 September) and "BATH," which is where it was posted from.

[The front of a letter from James Leake to John Nourse]

The text of the address is:

To Mr Nourse
at the Lamb
near Temple Bar

[The back of a letter from James Leake to John Nourse]

The text of the letter is:

Mr Nourse    Sept 16 1732

  On Saturday by 9 in ye
morning Pray Send to Mr Hazard
One Set of Ovid neatly b[oun]d G[il]t
Back & The Lovers Marbl'd. I
have not yet examin'd your Catalogue
but shall soon when you may
to hear from
  Y[ou]r Humble Ser[van]t
    James Leake

[The inside of a letter from James Leake to John Nourse]

As you can see, the watermark is a seal enclosing the Coat of Arms of the Kingdom of Great Britain (as it existed between The Acts of Union 1707 and 1801—see here) surmounted by the Imperial Crown of the Sovereign. The caption is the motto of the British Monarch Honi Soit | Mal Y Pense.

(BTW: This watermark appears in Philip Gaskell, A New Introduction to Bibliography (1972), 69 (Fig. 35), who cites Edward Heawood, Watermarks: Mainly of the 17th and 18th Centuries (1957), 448, where it is identified as "London, 1736." The letter is made up of one half of a "pot" sheet, the full sheet being at ca. 310 x 380 mm according to Gaskell (1972), 75, Table 3.)

Playing around with the contrast and colour-balance makes the watermark a little clearer (as here), and a high-definition camera with macro would probably be even more helpful. But, as you can see here, even the raw photograph off a bog-standard (and not very recent) digital camera provides a very clear image, certainly clear enough to make out all the features of the watermark.

[The watermark, view from inside the letter (watermark correctly oriented)]

More importantly, it is very easy to slip this panel under the page you are looking at, snap a picture and keep going. You can collate an entire volume like this and in a very short space of time build up a reference set of photographs of the watermarks in a volume, which you can then be used to compare to other copies of the same volume.

Of course, it is possible to record watermarks without the panels. But, like Matthew Davis, I have been reluctant to try to sketch/trace watermarks because I am "artistically incompetent," and these tracings take a long time to do. The resulting sketch would also be of no bibliographical value since my "Coat of Arms" would be indistinguishable from a Fool's Cap, a Fleur-de-lis or anything else for that matter. And the technological alternatives—like beta radiography—are expensive and available at few libraries. I suspect that this is why watermarks are still under-examined and under-recorded.

[The watermark, view from outside the letter (watermark reversed)]

As use of these cheap and relatively portable panels becomes more wide-spread I expect that bibliographers will be more inclined to record watermarks along with other bibliographical features. And as they become more widely used, and more evidence concerning the use of watermarks is recorded, the evidence that is collected will be of more use to the bibliographers, encouraging further recording etc.

[UPDATE: 2 July 2016: After all my pictures disappeared (again) I decided to give up on external hosts for large versions (1000px) of my image files and, for now on, will stick with the smaller images (500px), which Blogger is prepared to host.]

Wednesday 10 March 2010

The Eighteenth Century on Film

In the same way that I am gathering links to works by Eliza Haywood (here), William Hatchett (here) and eighteenth-century erotica (here), I thought I'd gather details of films set in the long eighteenth century, and links to IMDB, Wikipedia or any discussions of the same on blogs by eighteenth-centurists.

I have been meaning to do this for a while, but was finally set in motion by a link that a colleague sent me concerning a discussion of eighteenth-century fashion (here). The link is to a site has a heavy emphasis on eighteenth-century fashion, but does contains some film reviews which I wanted to link to somehow.

Like my other link-posts, I expect this post to grow slowly, but unlike the others I do not aim at a comprehensive list. My aim is to bring together information on films that I—and my students—might like to watch out of interest in the period, or out of interest in the works of fiction written in the period. The selection criteria is not entirely clear yet, but my preference is for recent films over older ones on the same subject, unless the older version is particularly good, and for films that are easy to get on DVD.

Looking online, the most prominent lists I could find were last updated in 1996 and 1999. Wikipedia has a category for Films set in the 18th century, but the list of films in this category is short. There is also this—very slow loading—list of "18th Century Costume Flicks" on The Costumer's Manifesto which I found useful, and the Period Movie Review, which has recently gone on hiatus . If anyone knows of any other lists, please let me know.

* * * * *

The Abduction Club (2002). ¶ Set, Ireland, 1780s. Irish noblemen woo and then abduct wealthy heiresses in order to marry into their fortune and avoid becoming priests or soldiers; starring Sophia Myles. ¶ Discussed, briefly here.

The Affair of the Necklace (2001). ¶ Set, France, 1780s. Based on a mysterious incident at the court of Louis XVI involving his wife, Queen Marie Antoinette; starring Hilary Swank, Joely Richardson and Simon Baker. ¶ Discussed here.

Amadeus (1984). ¶ Set, Vienna, 1780s. The life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. ¶ Discussed here and here.

The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders (1965). ¶ Set, UK, 1710s. Based on Daniel Defoe's The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders (1722), this version starring Kim Novack.

Aristocrats (1999). ¶ Set, mid- to late 18C. The story about the four, aristocratic Lennox sisters; starring Anne-Marie Duff. ¶ Discussed, briefly here.

Barry Lyndon (1975) ¶ Set, Europe, 18C. Based on William Makepeace Thackeray's The Luck of Barry Lyndon (1844), this version starring Ryan O'Neal and Marisa Berenson. ¶ Discussed here—where it is compared to Tom Jones (1963)—and here.

The Bawdy Adventures of Tom Jones (1953). ¶ Set, UK, 1740s. Based on Henry Fielding's The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling (1749), this version starring Nicky Henson and Joan Collins.

Becoming Jane (2007). ¶ Set, UK, 1790s. Based on the early life of author Jane Austen (1775–1817); starring Anne Hathaway, Julie Walters and James McAvoy. ¶ Discussed here.

The Beggar's Opera (1976). ¶ Set, UK, 1720s. Based on John Gay's The Beggar's Opera (1728), this version starring Laurence Olivier and Dorothy Tutin.

The Beggar's Opera (1983). ¶ Set, UK, 1720s. Based on John Gay's The Beggar's Opera (1728), this version starring Roger Daltrey and Carol Hall.

The Bounty (1984). ¶ Set, The Pacific, 1789. One of several fillms based on the real-life mutiny that occurred aboard the British Royal Navy ship HMS Bounty on 28 April 1789; starring Mel Gibson, Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Olivier, Daniel Day-Lewis and Liam Neeson (what a cast!).

Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001). ¶ Set, France, 1760s. Loosely based on a the famous legend around the Beast of Gévaudan and the real-life series of killings that took place in the Margeride Mountains from 1764–67; starring Samuel Le Bihan and Monica Bellucci.

Casanova (2005). ¶ Set, Venice, 1750s. Loosely based on the life of Giacomo Casanova; starring Heath Ledger. ¶ Discussed here (and many other places no doubt).

Le Chevalier D’Eon (2006–7). ¶ Set, Europe, 1780s. An animated film loosely based on the life of Chevalier D’Eon de Beaumont. Although the events of the series are supposed to start in 1742 the historical figures and events are all from later in the century. ¶ See my discussion here.

The Clandestine Marriage (1999). ¶ Set, Ireland, 1760s. Loosely based on a play of the same name by Colman and Garrick (published 1766); starring Nigel Hawthorne and (sadly) Joan Collins. ¶ Discussed, briefly here.

Clarissa (1991). ¶ Set, UK, 1740s. Based on Samuel Richardson's Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady (1748), this version starring Saskia Wickham and Sean Bean.

A Cock and Bull Story (2005). ¶ Set, UK, 1760s. Based on the Laurence Sterne's "essentially unfilmable novel" The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (1759–67).

The Convent of Sinners (1986). ¶ Set, France, late 18C. One of a few films based on Denis Diderot's La Religieuse [aka The Nun] (ca. 1780), in which a nun describes her intolerable life in the convent. A nunsploitation flick starring nobody of note.

Dangerous Liaisons (1988). ¶ Set, France, ca. 1770s. Based on Choderlos de Laclos's Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1782), this version starring Glenn Close, John Malkovich and Michelle Pfeiffer. ¶ Discussed here.

The Duchess (2008) ¶ Set, UK, late 18C. Based on the life of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire (1757–1806); starring Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes. ¶ Discussed here.

Fanny Hill (1983). ¶ Set, UK, 1740s. Based on John Cleland's Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (1748–49), this version starring Lisa Foster and Oliver Reed.

Fanny Hill (2007). ¶ Set, UK, 1740s. Based on John Cleland's Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (1748–49), this version starring Rebecca Night and Alex Robertson. ¶ Discussed, briefly, here (compared to other Andrew Davies films).

Frankenstein (1994). ¶ Set, Switzerland, ca. 1785. Based on Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein (1818); starring Kenneth Branagh, Robert De Niro and Helena Bonham Carter.

Gulliver's Travels (1996). ¶ Set, "abroad," 1720s. Based on Jonathan Swift's Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World (1726; 1735), this version—one of the few which is even remotely close to the text—starring Ted Danson.

The Harlot's Progress (2006). ¶ Set, London, early 18C. A fictional account of William Hogarth and his relationship with the prostitute that inspired his most famous series. ¶ Discussed here.

The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling (1997). ¶ Set, England, 1750s. An adaptation of the novel by Henry Fielding; starring Max Beesley. ¶ Discussed here.

The Incredible Journey of Mary Bryant (2005). ¶ Set, England, Australia, Timor, 1780s and 1790s. A young woman is transported to Botany Bay in 1788; she escapes to Timor and returns to London; starring Romola Garai and Sam Neill. ¶ Discussed here.

Jefferson in Paris (1995). ¶ Set, Paris, 1790s. Follows Jefferson (as the US ambassador to the court of Louis XVI), following the death of his wife ¶ Discussed here and here.

Joseph Andrews (1977). ¶ Set, UK, 1740s. Based on Henry Fielding's The History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews (1742), this version starring Peter Firth and Natalie Ogle.

The Lady and the Duke (2001). ¶ Set, Paris, 1790s. Inspired by the memoirs of a Scottish courtesan (Grace Elliott) during the French Revolution. ¶ Discussed here.

The Libertine [aka Le Libertin] (2000). ¶ Set, France, 1750s. Based on a day in the life of Denis Diderot (1713–84).

The Libertine (2004). ¶ Set, UK, 1670s. Johnny Depp as John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester (1647–80).

The Madness of King George (1994). ¶ Set, UK, 1780s. Tells the true story of George III's deteriorating mental health. ¶ Discussed here and here.

Marie Antoinette (2006). ¶ Set, France, 1780s. Based on the life of Marie Antoinette (1755–93) in the years leading up to the French Revolution. Starring Kirsten Dunst, Judy Davis and Jason Schwartzman. ¶ Discussed here.

Mesmer (1994). ¶ Set, Vienna and Paris, 1770s. Based on the life of Franz Mesmer (1734–1815); starring Alan Rickman and Anna Thalbach.

Mistress Pamela (1974). ¶ Set, UK, 1740s. Based on Samuel Richardson's Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded (1740), this version starring Ann Michelle and Julian Barnes.

Moll Flanders (1996). ¶ Set, UK, 1710s. Based on Daniel Defoe's The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders (1722), this version starring Robin Wright Penn and Morgan Freeman. ¶ Discussed here (compared to He Knew He Was Right (2004)).

The Monk (2011). ¶ Set Madrid, late 17C. Based on Matthew Lewis's The Monk (1796); staring Vincent Cassel, Déborah François and Joséphine Japy . ¶ Discussed by me hereNEW

The Nun (1966). ¶ Set, France, late 18C. One of a few films based on Denis Diderot's La Religieuse [aka The Nun] (ca. 1780), in which a nun describes her intolerable life in the convent; starring Liselotte Pulver and Anna Karina.

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006) ¶ Set, France, 18C. A gifted apprentice in pursuit of the perfect perfume. Starring Ben Whishaw.

Pirates of the Caribbean (2003–6). ¶ Set, Caribbean, 1760s? Features the East India Trading Company, Port Royal, The Flying Dutchman, and Johnny Depp, what more could you want? (Depp uses a genuine pistol made in London in 1760.)

Plunkett & Macleane (1999). ¶ Set, London, mid-18C. Based on Will Plunkett and Captain James Macleane, Gentlemen Highwaymen; starring Robert Carlyle, Jonny Lee Miller and Liv Tyler.

Quills (2000). ¶ Set, France, ca. 1805. The Marquis De Sade fights a battle of wills against a tyrannically prudish doctor.

Restoration (1995). ¶ Set, London, 1680s. Based on the life of a doctor at the court of Charles II; starring Robert Downey Jr., Sam Neill, Hugh Grant and Meg Ryan.

Ridicule (1996). ¶ Set, France, late 18C. In the decadent court of Versailles social status can rise and fall based on one's ability to mete out witty insults and avoid ridicule. Starring Charles Berling, Jean Rochefort and Fanny Ardant.

Rob Roy (1995). ¶ Set, France, ca. 1805. Based on the life of Robert Roy MacGregor, the famous Scottish folk hero and outlaw of the early 18C; starring Liam Neeson, Jessica Lange and John Hurt.

The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982). ¶ Set, France, ca. 1792. One of many films based on a series of novels by Baroness Emmuska Orczy; starring Anthony Andrews, Jane Seymour and Ian McKellen. ¶ Discussed here.

Sleepy Hollow (1999). ¶ Set, New York State, USA, 1799. Based on Washington Irving's short story "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" (1820), this version starring Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci and Miranda Richardson.

The Triumph of Love (2001). Set, France, early 18C. Based on Pierre de Marivaux's play "Le Triomphe de l'amour" (1732); starring Ben Kingsley, Mira Sorvino and Rachael Stirling.

Valmont (1989). Set, France, ca. 1770s. Based on Choderlos de Laclos's Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1782), this version starring Colin Firth, Annette Bening and Meg Tilly.

Wuthering Heights (1992). Set, Yorkshire, late 18C. One of many films based on Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights (1847); starring Juliette Binoche, Ralph Fiennes, Janet McTeer, Jeremy Northam. ¶ Discussed here.

Young Catherine (1991). Set, Germany and Russai, mid- to late 18C. Based on the life of Catherine the Great, starring Julia Ormond and Vanessa Redgrave.

BTW: I was very tempted to use Kathy Brandt's characterisation of the eighteenth-century on film as "libertines, pirates, cleavage & costume drama." (See pdf here.)

[UPDATE 1 January 2013: new items marked NEW]

Friday 5 March 2010

Index to Early American Songsters

Here is something useful for our Bawdy Songbook project: Robert M. Keller has compiled, and The Colonial Music Institute of Annapolis, MD has published, Early American Songsters, 1734-1820: An Index with the following description (here):

This is an index of all extant songsters published in America before 1821 and includes 35,384 songs from 621 songsters. The list was developed from Irving Lowens’s Bibliography of Songsters Printed in America before 1821 (Worcester: American Antiquarian Society, 1976) and draws on this work for titles, locations, and other bibliographical information. Lowens defined a songster as “a collection of three or more secular poems intended to be sung.” Most of the songsters do not include music, although many contain references to the names of tunes to which the song could be sung. Many of the songsters have been microfilmed or digitized and are available through Early American Imprints Series I and II microform editions or the on-line Archive of Americana.

Contents: Indexes:
  Texts: First lines, Titles, Burdens, Refrains, Theatre Works/Venues
  Names: Performers, Authors, Composers
  Bibliography: Source data & locations, with Tables of Contents

NB: The Index (USD25) only runs on Windows XP, Vista or 7.

Prof. Stillman on Modern Communication

The following paragraph was sent to me by my colleague Rebecca-Anne Do Rozario:

America has in fact transformed journalism from what it once was, the periodical expression of the thought of the time, the opportune record of the questions and answers of contemporary life, into an agency for collecting, condensing and assimilating the trivialities of the entire human existence, […] the frantic haste with which we bolt everything we take, seconded by the eager wish of the journalist not to be a day behind his competitor, abolishes deliberation from judgment and sound digestion from our mental constitutions. We have no time to go below surfaces, and as a general thing no disposition." Journalist W. J. Stillman, writing in The Atlantic Monthly about the negative influence of the telegraph, 1891.

The point of this paragraph—the joke—is in the final fourteen characters: "telegraph" and "1891." This paragraph is circulating followed by this sentence:

Okay, if you didn't cheat and read to the end, you also thought it was another quote about the internet, right?

I didn't cheat and so my answer is "yes." But I was also interested in reading more. Google the first clause and you get 2150 hits, mostly on blogs, discussion boards and "odd spot" journalism. Flicking through a number of these I realised that they all have the same gap: "entire human existence, […] the frantic haste."

After some searching I found the reference in The Atlantic Monthly (Volume 68‎ - Page 689), but the text is unavailable online (due, no doubt, to some idiotic interpretation of copyright law). After a lot more searching I found the full text, or, at least, a lot more of it, in only one place here, in The Bruce Herald [Milton, New Zealand], Vol. 22, Issue 2343 (29 January 1892), 5: "A Result of American Journalism."

If I had the time it would be possible to untangle the complex descent of this snippet of text from The Atlantic Monthly, via Daniel J. Czitrom's 1979 thesis Media and the America Mind: The Intellectual and Cultural Reception of Modern Communication, 1838–1965 (published in 1982 as Media and the America Mind: From Morse to McLuhan) to Timothy W. Gleason's The Watchdog Concept: The Press and the Courts in Nineteenth-Century America (1990), to Wade Rowland's The Spirit of the Web: The Age of Information from Telegraph to Internet (1999) and Carla G. Surratt's The Internet and Social Change (2001). From one of the latter, no doubt, this snippet was launched into cyberspace where it has multiplied, like administrators at a university.

What amuses me, is that the full text is only available online one hundred and twenty years after it was published because a country newspaper in Milton, New Zealand (some fifty kilometres south of Dunedin—not exactly a metropolis itself) reprinted it. And then this newspaper was scanned and made available online free.

It seems that the circulation of information was more reliable in colonial times than it is now. Most likely it was a physical copy of The Atlantic Monthly that was received by steamer in Dunedin, and the snippet reprinted, all in a matter of months. Of course, it is possible that Professor W. J. Stillman's text reached Dunedin via telegraph, which would be pretty amusing given his sentiments.

Here then is the text that appears in The Bruce Herald

In an article on journalism and literature in the Atlantic, the writer, Professor W. J. Stillman, says:—As the journal of culture leads to scholarship and the sounder and broader general education of the public, its work passes under the classification of science and out of journalism proper; it is a branch and continuation of the university. We in the United States of America are proud of our educational system, and it is not an infrequent boast that we are the best educated people in the world. In fact, we are one of the worst. It may be true that in the United States there are more native boys of a given age who can read and write than in any other country, and that we have more colleges and universities than any two other countries combined; but the number of persons who are profoundly versed in any branch of learning, or who may be said to be really educated, is probably less than in most European countries. In such a question it is not the extent of the primary or secondary education that tells, but that of the superior. Nor is there any validity in the excuse that we are a young nation. We have all the advantages that heredity can give, and the concentrated results of all the culture the world has known, and the proof that we fully enjoy the advantages of this epoch and past epochs is that here and there an individual amongst us rises to the highest attainments of the culture of the day. But our education in any given branch out of the practical, the pursuit of the material, is extremely superficial, and we are content that it should be so. It is peculiarly and almost exclusively a newspaper education, and responds to the demands of the day—calls for information, not for knowledge—and it is almost inevitable that it should remain so, at least for a long time, for the newspaper is the readiest of all appliances for cramming, and cramming is the vice, not only of our own country, but of our race, though eminently of our nation as compared with other nations of our race. America has in fact transformed journalism from what it once was—the periodical expression of the thought of the time, the opportune record of the questions and answers of contemporary life—into an agency for collecting, condensing, and assimilating the trivialities of the entire human existence. In this chase of the day’s accidents we still keep the lead, as in the consequent neglect and oversight of what is permanent and therefore vital in its importance to intellectual character. The effect is disastrous, and affects the whole range of our mental activities. We develop hurry into a deliberate system, skimming of surfaces into a science, the pursuit of novelties and sensations into the normal business of our lives. Our travelling is a competition to see the most in the least time; our learning the collection of the greatest number of facts concerning the greatest number of things; and our pride the multitude of subjects we know something about, rather than the soundness and depth of the knowledge we possess of a few. We desire to be glib; we mistake glitter for luminousness; we force the note in whatever we undertake, for nothing is so repugnant to our standards as the calm of a serene philosophy. The most disastrous consequence of this condition of things is that even those of us who are earnest are driven into materialism in some of its shapes, if we would make an impression on contemporary development, and our lives are little by little deprived of the spiritual leaven that makes their true vitality. We are more proud of this electric-light brilliancy than we are of any of our real virtues, and strain to be sparkling until we but dimly perceive the difference between being funny and witty, more dimly that between being witty and wise. To sum up all that could be said on this score, we are more anxious to seem than to be. Our art, our literature, our politics, and our social organisation are infected with the passion of an ostentation often mendacious, always superficial.

Thursday 4 March 2010

Print Culture for Undergraduates

Trysh Travis is circulating a CFP for a SHARP Affiliate Panel at the MLA Conference (Los Angeles, California, 6–9 January 2011)

This panel that will examine the place of print culture in the undergraduate literature curriculum (in English and/or language departments) in an era in which students may be more accustomed to reading on screens than on paper and administrators are clamoring for a "back to basics" approach to literary study.

Faced with these conditions, how do scholars of print culture justify-and implement-its study across the various levels of a major?

How can we do book history as undergraduate class sizes expand indefinitely?

How can we leverage undergraduates' infatuation with new media (text-messaging, Facebook, Twitter) on behalf of the study of print culture?

These and other questions relating to the uses of print culture within undergraduate pedagogy may be addressed through case studies, theoretical musings, programmatic overviews, and the like.

[A fascinating topic. Unfortunately the panel is only open to members of MLA (by 7 April) and of SHARP (by 1 July). If you are one of the happy few who fit this criteria …]

Proposals and short CV by 15 March to:

Trysh Travis
Center for Women's Studies & Gender Research
Box 117352
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611-7352