Thursday, October 25, 2012

What Is the Role of Enumerative Bibliography in the Digital Age?

I think it is obvious from my posts on this blog, or if you follow my Twitter account, that I have been spending a lot of time the last several months considering digital humanities and my role in it. As I have been reflecting on how I fit in, I realized the other day that my role in relation to digital media has been so far largely bibliographic--in the sense that for months (years, in some cases) I have been collecting lists of references, annotations, and general information for digital media that struck me as significant. Scholarly habits of such enumerative bibliography are, of course, long standing in humanities research, especially in medieval studies. The field of medieval studies is certainly full of bibliographic endeavors, too many even to begin to enumerate.

Yet I wonder how this task fits into the digital world.

Here are a few examples of what I have compiled:
1) A select bibliography about digital humanities (in Evernote, which goes wherever I do, synced between internet, laptop, and phone), with special reference to medieval studies. This one probably is already hopelessly behind, out of date, etc., as there are always new materials I could add. But I do add to it, and I have found it useful, as have others.
2) A select list of digital materials (again, in Evernote) I plan to incorporate into teaching medieval subjects, many related to manuscripts.
3) The resource pages on the UConn Medieval Studies Program website, the most up-to-date and comprehensive of which is the page on manuscripts.
I have other lists, too, inhabiting various technological spaces, such as my internet bookmarks and other notes to myself. Much of this depicts my own fascination with the ever-growing amount of information and resources on digital medieval manuscripts, another facet of the general field of bibliographic study.

In any case, reflecting on my compulsion to create these lists of reference data, I began to wonder about the role of enumerative bibliography in the digital age. This likely reflects my own (traditionalist) training and tendencies. It is also no secret that I am a big fan of traditionally-oriented bibliographic projects in my own field--such as the collaborative sister projects of Fontes Anglo-Saxonici and Sources of Anglo-Saxon Literary Culture (both of which I just quickly accessed in my long list of web bookmarks). I've even worked on entries for the latter. But I am also sure that there needs to be more to such bibliography beyond collecting references.

So is there room for bibliography in the digital age? I am sure there is. In reconceptualizing the idea of bibliography, D. F. McKenzie argues for defining the field as "the discipline that studies texts as recorded forms, and the processes of their transmission, including their production and reception" (see his discussion here, p. 12). In expanding to the digital, there is much room for this task, especially if we further expand the notion of "texts" to "media." Indeed, I would argue that, in the world of digital media, there is much room not only for production of further media and tools (much of the focus of digital humanities in funded projects) but also for bibliography, in whatever new forms the task may take. Perhaps the next, bigger, question is how bibliography will adapt to address new media in fresh ways.

Friday, October 5, 2012

On First Publication and Giddiness

Oh my goodness, two posts from Jenn in as many weeks.  What brave new world is this?!  One in which I am capable of producing writing, apparently, which is a major relief after feeling "blocked" for so long.

Speaking of writing, some of mine has been published online!  I contributed an essay on teaching medieval history with and through performance for the TEAMS online journal, The Once and Future Classroom.  This essay, and indeed the entire journal issue, came out of a 2011 Kalamazoo panel on teaching medieval narrative and lyric poetry through performance (see Evelyn Vitz's and Nancy Regalado's introduction to the issue here for more on the panel on their websites, Performing Medieval Narrative Today: A Video Showcase and Arthurian Legend in Performance).  In their introduction Vitz and Regalado describe my essay thusly:

In “Teaching Medieval History through Performance in the College Classroom,” Jennifer Lynn Jordan recalls her first experiments as a student using performance as an approach to medieval narratives and lyric poetry in Vitz’s Acting Medieval Literature course. Inspired by this method, Jordan then began viewing historical texts through the lens of performance in her graduate work. She now employs strategies she has learned through performance, as well as performance itself, as a teacher introducing a new generation of students to medieval history.

I spent a lot of time on this piece, partly because I wanted to honor and do justice to the immense influence that Timmie Vitz has generously offered-- and continues to offer!-- for my development as a performer, teacher, scholar, and just all around world citizen, and partly because I found that I was only really coming to understand my approach to teaching and scholarship as I was made to articulate it in writing.  In general I've been looking for (pedagogically and methodologically sound) ways in which to combine my perspective and work as an artist with those as an academic.  I spent along time quite erroneously viewing these two "personas"-- artist and academic-- as clearly delineated and mutually exclusive.  While writing this essay I realized that not only does it not have to be this way, but also that I had been unconsciously drawing on my two sets of experience to inform each other from the get-go.  And rather than weakening or compromising my work, it has enormous potential for strengthening.  Just need to figure out how the pieces fit together!  I think this speaks to the larger problem that was "blocking" my work this summer-- trying too hard to compartmentalizing my work from the rest of my life.  

Anyway, enough navel-gazing.  You can find the entire new issue here, and my contribution here.  Enjoy-- I'd love to hear people's thoughts.  If extra incentive is needed, there are hyperlinks within the essay where you can videos of me playing with texts, puppets, and paintsets over the course of the last ten years are so.  Some are fun, some are embarrassing, and if you watch all of them you can get a general sense of the History of Jenn's Haircuts in the Early 21st Century.  

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Heroic Age 15 (at last!)

The editorial staff of The Heroic Age is pleased to announce the release of
Issue 15. Issue 15 contains articles on Late Antiquity, Arthuriana, and
Folklore, as well as an edition of the Annales Cambriae from the time of St.
Patrick through 682. The issue can be found at The editorial staff would like
to thank all our contributors, staff, and volunteer copy-editors. We would
also like to thank Memorial University of Newfoundland for continuing to
host The Heroic Age.

Larry Swain
EIC, Heroic Age