Monday, 8 June 2009

Someone taking Web 2.0 seriously?

Or does Arnie just care about the cash?

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Marilynne Robinson

Sharp-eyed readers may have noticed that I have recently added a list of my current reading to this blog (see left sidebar). I'm planning to post about this when marking permits, but since one of the authors listed there is Marilynne Robinson I thought I shouldn't miss the opportunity to celebrate her success in this year's Orange Prize, announced last night.

Home, her prize-winning novel, is a companion to Gilead (published 2005). I read Gilead some 18 months ago, but I have a very poor memory for fiction these days so thought I would reread it before starting on Home. (The asterisk against titles in the sidebar indicates a reread.)

The Guardian last Saturday carried an interview with Robinson, and today's paper has an interesting article by Andrew Brown on the role of Calvinism in her fiction.

Not All That It Seems

The online Guardian, via Google Reader, has just alerted me to what looks at first sight like a marvellous new resource: British Literary Manuscripts Online. The preview provided by The Guardian includes images from manuscripts by Pope, Bronte (Charlotte) and Wilde -- some of which are even readable on-screen. You can see Pope's corrections to his translation of the Odyssey, and also Wilde's redrafting of one of his more famous epigrams. I can see the latter being tremendously useful to me in the Manuscript and Print lecture I give our first-year literature students in semester 1, when I try to encourage them to see literary texts in terms of production, transmission and reception rather simply as finished, immutable and iconic.

The downside, however -- which isn't apparent until you read the small print (actually, follow the links) in the article -- is that this is a commercial resource which users will have to pay for. (The article is, in fact, closely based on a press release from the publishers, Gale.) I followed links to the 'BLMO brochure' and 'BLMO factsheet', and in neither -- admittedly, on a very quick reading -- are there any details of how much the product will cost. 'Very expensive indeed', is my guess -- probably 5 figures. Which puts it way beyond the budget for our own library, sad to say.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Reading Past and Present

I'm still thinking through what I'm going to do with this blog now that the Web 2.0 course has finished. One thing I will unquestionably want to do is blog about teaching matters -- a subject which is never likely to run dry.

Another thing -- more for my own interest -- is that I plan to use Early Modern Gillian to help keep track of my leisure reading. I've already blogged at different times about books I've been reading such as The Rest Is Noise and For Lust of Knowing. I realise that the books I read in my spare time are likely to be of interest only to me, but I'm hoping that by blogging on this subject I will be encouraged to (1) read a more interesting range of books and (2) remember what I've read rather better than I do at the moment. My memory for books read used to be quite good; it's very poor nowadays. This may just be age, but I'm willing to try what training and keeping better records can do.

So I'm taking a twofold approach. Books I'm currently reading will be posted on the sidebar of Early Modern Gillian. When I finish a book, I will delete it from the sidebar and post it to my new account on Library Thing. I've made a start on my Library Thing account by posting every non-work book I can remember reading this year -- not even shrinking from admitting to the chicklit (some of which, I should point out, was semi-work anyway -- books I knew one of my dissertation students was planning to write on). In principle, I like the social networking aspect of Library Thing -- though I've yet to notice it having much effect in practice.

I'm a bit sceptical about how long this will last, but for the time being it amuses me.