Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Summer Break Update 2

Illustrated London News at Alderman Library
In June, I attended a class at the Rare Book School at UVa. We (8 students and 1 professor) spent the week reading about and discussing the theory and practice of bibliographic description, textual criticism, and scholarly editing. We also practiced collation (side-by-side page/image comparison) using the Lindstrand Comparator, the Hinman collator, and electronic options like Juxta. The week was not so much a carefree gallimaufry summer camp as a diversely focused conference *on the purest crack* -- with obligatory attendance, no late entrances to sessions, healthy food at breakfast and breaks, and "electives" that included a talk on rare text preservation, a screening of a documentary about paper, a printing press demonstration, lunch-break visits to Special Collections, weeping in the Alderman Library stacks (OK, I'm probably the only RBS student who took that elective), and lots of used book store shopping.

I am eager to put this new, hard-won knowledge to work, both in the classroom (Literary Theory and Criticism this fall) and in my research (planning for a scholarly edition is under way).

Other fun events in June? I was invited to give a lecture for the local chapter of the Victorian Society for America. I presented a PowerPoint about Victorian matrimonial advertising, because the subject is fun, accessible, and makes people reconsider what they imagine was/is "conventional" in match-making and courtship then/now. A reporter and photographer from the Virginian Pilot were present, and the story was printed in last Sunday's paper.

Sewing projects:
Found some English home-dec fabric scraps at an old upholstery shop

There were enough scraps to make the doll a dress, too

Not a fantastic picture, but there you have it: we all match

The Summer Reading-for-Pleasure Project continues to be a challenge. I finished Maisie Dobbs in record time, really loving the development of the lady detective character and the suggestive inter-war English cultural history lessons. I picked up--and put down--and repicked--and reput (and so on) The Wonderful Life of Oscar Wao. I just cannot get into this story, although many of my most respected reader-friends recommend it. I was counseled to drop it for this summer, since it's defeating the purpose of the Project. I have also been trying to finish The Marriage Plot. I never got through Middlesex and I found The Virgin Suicides alienating in a too-frothy (do I mean precious?) way. I'm not sure Eugenides does it for me, but the premise here is too good to pass over. Mostly, though, it seems like a rip-off of Franny and Zooey. What am I ripping through because it's so over-the-top awesome? Marie Corelli's 1887 novel Thelma. It merits a post of its own.

Television: OMG this season of Master Chef features mean girls, pretty girls, vegetarian girls, and hipster girls. SO GOOD. At home, we are practicing our pasta-from-scratch, our eggs benedict, our cheesecake, and our sentimental background narratives about why we would make TV-candy competitors for when we go out for the show.

I also started watching Alias. It's Buffy without the camp; Lost without the brain-teasers. I object to the frequency of torture scenes, especially to the constant representation of Sydney-Bristow torture. But otherwise, the show is awesome through Season 3 (I just started Season 4: jury is out), and it motivates me to exercise my pout.

Banjo: I can now strum the alphabet song, and my daughter doesn't run away screaming in terror anymore. I feel pretty smug about this. This week I'm supposed to practice some basic frailing and learn "Good Night Ladies."