Hey guys, welcome to my first class blog post! It is a bit scatter-brained, but I hope it will all make sense for those who were not in class.
- Prof. Klimasmith
- Patchwork Girl
- Workshop #5
Professor Klimasmith presentation:
This presentation was directed towards the undergrads in the class. Betsy Klimasmith directs the English masters program at UMB. She handed out 2 sheets, both exploring the masters degree in English. Most people finish this program in 2-4 years, depending on which specific program you wish to pursue. It is very cost neutral degree (according to her, the person trying to sell the program). This may be something the graduates in the class can help explain more in detail. If anyone has questions or need help, 6th floor Wheatley is the place to go! Penelope McDonald. Alex runs licence-sure part of program.
E-mail Alex the bibliographies if you have not already, or have handed it to him in class. He may offer suggestions for other sources and make small comments on the sources you have chosen. You may be able to use the BHR as a source, just as long as their is a clear connection to the item you are exhibiting, but more specified sources will be preferred. Darisse asked an important question for the graduates in the class revolving around whether the sources that are being collected are for the exhibition or the final paper. Alex concluded that the sources are for the exhibition, but they me be able to help with the paper itself, depending on the sources used, as the paper is supposed to be a greater connection to the item being exhibited.
Each presentation can last no longer than 10 minutes. It is recommended to create a 5 minute speech on the object you are presenting, with an astute knowledge of the images you are showing and knowledge of the object from the sources you collect. The later 5 minutes will be for answering questions and general discussion of your object. By no later than midnight of next Sunday you are to email your power point presentation to Alex to make the presentations go more smoothly the following day. If you have your book you can bring it in and do not have to submit a visual presentation if you do not want. (To make file smaller- Right click on file, click on compress).
We stated off talking about this book with a general discussion of how/if you read Patchwork Girl. Only one person got the actual copy and read it, and one person watched it through Youtube, watching people watch the text, shouts out to Sam and her ghetto copy. Others in the class watched videos of Shelly Jackson explaining the text herself. People who did not access it that way, discussed the various ways the tried to access the text. People used google to look up reviews and explanations of the text because they either couldn’t access the text or did not have it. Someone tried to pirate the book and it effectively shut down his computer multiple times. There was a USB and a CD rom version of it, and apparently the USB was the only one that worked and it only worked on a Mac. I’m not gonna say where I fall on this spectrum but from what I am understanding, I saved some money.
The discussion moved over to Jackson herself and her study of hypertext theory with the use of Story Space. It was considered a very revolutionary platform at its time, but has since been denoted as a very structurally linear platform. What Jackson does besides conceiving this project as a hyper-textual project, is that she uses it to demonstrate how the medium effects how we interpret the information being conveyed. She decided to convey this through the classical story of Frankenstein, and draws similar connections that Mary Shelley draws between the monster and the actual literary works itself. We examined the title page of this story and inferred what “By Mary/Shelley, & Herself” could imply in terms of authorship of this story. A large amount of connections were made to the 1818 edition of Frankenstein, including the “;” and the use of “A Modern Monster”.
In groups we discussed the section of the story titled, “I lay” and its significance. Some one made the suggestion that the monster from the Patchwork Girl was not a physical monster, as it was in Frankenstein, and Alex went into detail on how the gender politics of Frankenstein may be reflected in this passage. The intimacy of the scene was brought into light, as the monster was not painted so intimately in Frankenstein, as there is a physical description of the body temperature of Patchwork Girl’s monster. The “this writing” section of this story is a pretty good representation of Shelly Jackson’s meta analysis of what it means to assemble the various sections of a text in the manner that she does. The internet is a very small moment in the history of the book.
A brief discussion of Poster’s essay:
The heart of the essay happens on page 490, with the quote “I introduce, then, the term analogue author… degrees of otherness in the relation of authors texts,” basically the entire 3rd paragraph. “The medium is the message” is a phrase coined by Marshall McLuhan that pretty much characterizes Poster’s point, while others contested that different types of authors do not exist and that a text is a text irregardless of the medium that the text is being conveyed. This was a very woke discussion.
This workshop should help us prepare for our presentations and exhibitions. We started off with a power point presentation of what cataloging is.
The workshop procedure:
- Watch PP of cataloging with BHR in mind.
- Fill out the cataloging sheet, which can be downloaded online from wiki.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions to peers or Alex.
- Submit to Alex by next class.
Some sections may be problematic to complete and will not require completion before next class. The workshop can be found on the class wiki.
Hope this helped 🙂
On Monday the class met at the Houghton Library at Harvard University for our final library field trip of the semester. Trying to find the library was a bit challenging, and asking some Harvard students for help revealed that some of them were unfamiliar with the library. Some students were very unsure of directions to the library even though it was pretty close by. I must admit that I was a bit surprised by this since it is such an incredible resource!
Once we had all stowed our bags in the lockers, we went into the first room we visited on our tour. We were surrounded by so many old and rare books in just that one room, it was amazing! Unfortunately we couldn’t wander around the room to see the exhibit (which featured books selected by Harvard professors that they felt were meaningful) because some materials were set out for a group that was arriving after us. Still, even from the part of the room we could go in, it became very clear that the library housed a truly amazing collection.
Next we made our way up a (super cool!) spiral staircase into a room that was specifically designed to look like a house in England during Samuel Johnson’s time. Once we were all gathered in the room, we got to see a selection of the Houghton’s absolutely massive Samuel Johnson collection. The room not only featured not only Samuel Johnson books, but also portraits of him and his inner circle. They have the most extensive collection in the world, ranging from his personal set of of Bibles to first editions of his dictionary to his personal letters. All of these items were collected by a couple who later donated them to the Houghton. One of the items we looked at was a book that had never been folded, stitched together, or cut, so it remained in a pristine original condition. It was very interesting to see especially since it was a good chance to see one of the stages of the book making process. There was also a copy of the plan of the dictionary that was still in its original blue paper cover.
My favorite part of the whole tour came next! Once we were done in the Samuel Johnson room, we went into the next room over to see the books and letters that were set out for us to look at. Most of the items related to readings on our syllabus, so there was lots to see! There was a copy of the Samuel Johnson dictionary (as well as his letters), other dictionaries (including one specifically for “hard words”), a Latin copy of the Philobiblon, a copy of Pale Fire, an 1818 first edition Frankenstein, and a first edition of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. My two favorite items were Frankenstein and the book of sonnets. The Frankenstein books were really neat to see. The novel was split into three individual volumes like we had discussed in class, and it was kind of wild seeing the title page of Volume 1 since we had done a whole class activity relating to it! The sonnets were also incredible because apparently there are very few copies of the book known to exist and the one at the Houghton is probably in the best condition of all of them. It was beautiful and I felt so happy that I got to take a closer look at it (without touching, since it is apparently one of the most rare books in the library). I did ask to see the page for Sonnet 106, which is my favorite, so I was quite excited about that!!
Our tour of the Houghton Library was very exciting and interesting. We were reminded several times that this library is not just for Harvard students and that we are free to visit the library again and research the materials there! There is an online catalog that books can be requested through and if you get a special ID you can work with them in the reading room. It is great to know that this library is a great resource for us, and it is only a Redline ride away!