It’s the beginning of a new academic year, which means I have been making new discoveries in the digital world as well as breathing new life into existing projects.
If you have been following my blog since January, you will be very aware that I’ve been working on the poet John Temple’s papers at the Dodd Center as a case study for re-considering how digital archives allow us to access and interact with poetry in progress. In order to take this project further in small but manageable stages, I’ve been discussing the possibility of an online exhibit jointly sponsored by the Dodd Center and the Scholars’ Collaborative here at UConn. While this would have the benefit of being a tangible outcome in order to showcase my work in the field, the exhibit would primarily function, of course, to draw attention to the significance and necessity of encountering poetics as embedded in the archive. Our initial aim is to present the digitized images of the three Temple poems’s multiple instantiations with the transcriptions I have already developed. In thinking through more innovative ways of displaying these documents, Anna Kijas, who is the Scholars’ Collaborative Co-ordinator, has suggested utilizing the Omeka platform because its Neatline plug in may permit the layering of images of differing opacities to form the palimpsests I so desire. The possibilities of Neatline are evident in the range of projects undertaken by its developer, David McClure. It feels somewhat overwhelming to peruse these wonderful online exhibits but I am also excited to have the support of colleagues and the opportunity to learn a new skill set. In the future, I am also intrigued about the potential of a pilot project currently underway for representing revisions within a single document.
As always with digital projects and archives, I dream of unlimited time to explore and investigate their possibilities. But as I sit here in my living room, having graded papers earlier today and aware of the thick stack of novels I need to begin this weekend, time is a notably scarce resource. If I could have a Time Turner, I’d start with the multitude of excellent articles that form BRANCH (Britain, Representation and Nineteenth-Century History), a resource I was directed to by Professor Sarah Winter this week. Not only does BRANCH’s scholarly and encyclopedic approach offer a one-stop resource for a scholar and teacher such as myself, its dual interfaces—“Timeline” and “Topic Clusters”—offer, as editor Dino Felluga explains, a more complex understanding of history informed by Walter Benjamin’s notion of jetztzeit. As I contemplate the potential intersections between conceiving of an individual poem as a layered material palimpsest and my understanding of a “deep” nineteenth century that asks us to look through (rather than at) history from our modern subject position, I am increasingly eager to revel in this blog as an opportunity to step back and see such broader and purposeful conjunctions in my scholarship.