One of the projects I got to work on this spring was an introduction to a new US edition of John Braine’s 1957 novel Room at the Top. The edition is coming from Valancourt Books, a specialty micropress focusing on new editions of rare 18th, 19th, and 20th century literature, especially Gothic, weird, supernatural, mystery, and queer literature. Braine’s novel is a classic of mid-century British fiction, part of a moment loosely called the Angry Young Men. It was also made into an equally significant film of the British New Wave.
image from the Valancourt Books website
The novel tells the story of Joe Lampton; at the start of the novel, set in the present, he is successful but complacent, looking back at his ambitious youthful self ten years earlier with a mixture of admiration and scorn. The narrative unfolds in a tracing of his rise to affluence and the women he loved, lost, and used to get there. Room at the Top is a compelling look at the moral implications of a society defined by increasing affluence and the stark gap between haves and have-nots. It asks whether material success and comfort is worth the loss of your soul.
While this is a little outside my usual areas of research, I do teach the Angry Young Men and British New Wave, and it was a real pleasure to delve into Braine’s career and think about this novel. I’m happy to see it back in print and available from Valancourt–with the original cover art from the first edition.
In addition to finding me in the classroom, you’ll be able to find me in assessment meetings as we revise our first-year writing program and our departmental goals and objectives — and hopefully you’ll find me in my office making some long-awaited progress on Erotic Biography.
Online and off, I’ll be:
- Attending the Annual Meeting for the National Humanities Alliance/Humanities Advocacy Day in March once again;
- Working on an introduction for the Valancourt Books edition of John Braine’s Room at the Top;
- And, of course, blogging at Inside Higher Ed/University of Venus
Also: watch the Widener English blog this January for writing from my fall semester students on why we read — and need — fiction.
Looking forward to the return of THATCamp Philly on September 29th. I’ve proposed an idea for a session on using digital archives in research and teaching: check it out.
Classes at Widener begin on August 27, but before then I’ll be participating in a few chairly-type retreats focusing on governance, leadershipping, etc., so very much around. Here’s what I’ll be teaching this fall, and when you can find me for office hours.
In and around town — and beyond:
- Continuing my work at the Swarthmore Public Library leading a book group on biography called “Women’s Lives”
- Joining a few Twitter colleagues for a roundtable on modernism and social media at MSA 14 in Las Vegas, October 18-21; I’ll also be chairing a panel I put together entitled “Modernist Necrophilia”
- Recent posts up at University of Venus/Inside Higher Ed as well as The Comics Grid
Finally – very pleased to be joining the editorial team at College Literature as an Associate Editor. They’ve undergone a redesign and a shift in focus with new editor Graham MacPhee, and I’m excited to be part of it.
I was prompted by this post from Cathy Davidson on making online professional engagement visible and this piece in the Chronicle on #altmetrics to use TweetLibrary and Storify to archive my tweets. I began using Twitter for professional purposes in 2009, shortly after receiving tenure. It’s been an important part of my working life, but I never thought about how it illustrates my areas of engagement until now.
The archive reflects work I’ve done post-tenure in a number of areas: teaching/assessment, scholarly research and writing, blogging and chatting on professional issues, chairing a department, moving into advocacy for the humanities both in the classroom and the public square, and keeping up with developments in my discipline (such as digital humanities). I’ve attended conferences and contributed not only presentations via the traditional paper but also content to the backchannel via livetweeting. The archive illustrates the ways we can connect with colleagues to share ideas, ask questions, and keep our own learning and development going.
Screenshot of my Storify archive
But as part of that, I realized going through the material that the archive also offers a window into something we don’t often get to see: process. If you go through the archive, you’ll see the early stages of projects, brainstorming for blog posts, a public testing of ideas and an appreciation of feedback. You’ll also see the impact, however small, that some of this work has. That’s something else that’s not always visible in scholarly work. Using this tool, I can get a sense of who is reading my work, the extent to which it gets passed around and commented upon, and whether or not what I’m doing is making a difference and contributing to a dialogue. It’s not the only way to measure the reach of faculty work, but it might be a valuable way.
Posted in blogging, higher ed, humanities, research, teaching
Tagged altmetrics, assessment, biography, blogging, HASTAC, humanities, James Joyce, leadership, modernism, Modernist Studies Association, narrative, peer review, profession, ProfHacker, publishing, scholarship, teaching, technology, THATCamp, University of Venus
The newest issue of College Literature (39.1; Winter 2012; 131-139) has run a review essay on James Joyce and the Revolt of Love along with Declan Kiberd’s Ulysses and Us. Here’s an excerpt:
Declan Kiberd and Janine Utell both recognize that Ulysses is concerned with love as the most complex and the most human of emotions. Each text offers a critical reappraisal of Joyce’s work emphasizing what one can still learn from reading Joyce in the early twenty-first century, and how one might learn again to love reading Joyce. As a result, their books represent an important step in restoring a sense of humanity to an author whose texts have been relegated to the status of relics for specialists. (p. 132)
Utell provides a fascinating and well-argued analysis of Joyce’s evolving attitudes toward love in the contexts of marriage and adultery…[She] does a thorough and admirable job of substantiating her argument with specifics from Joyce’s text and ultimately provides a very convincing argument that Bloom’s quest is a quest for a genuinely ethical love through her careful analysis of selected episodes. (pp. 136, 138)
Then there’s one in the recent English Literature in Transition (55.1; 2012; 120-124):
Utell’s project offers a fresh perspective on how Joyce imagines an ethical love within the space of infidelity–thus-re-envisioning illicit desire as a positive site for transformation instead of a negative space established by more orthodox systems. Utell’s study also offers insightful close readings of Joyce’s texts, especially the long chapter on Ulysses that is valuable in itself. (p. 123)
We start back at Widener next week — the courses I’m offering can be found here.
I’ll be traveling a bit, too:
- In February I’ll be co-facilitating a workshop at AAC&U in New Orleans with some colleagues on our recent work in general education at Widener, focusing on the assessment of writing.
- In March I’ll be traveling to Washington, DC for Humanities Advocacy Day: meeting with Hill staffers and learning more about the state of the humanities in the public square.
- Also in March: heading to Richmond for the College English Association’s annual conference. I’ll be speaking on Emmanuel Levinas’ Carnets de Captivité and the borders between life writing and theory.
- And in early summer…I’ll be on a panel at the Space Between conference at Brown University, speaking on Sylvia Townsend Warner and Valentine Ackland: ”Love in the Archives.”
You can always find me over at University of Venus, too!
Posted in research, teaching, travel
Tagged AAC&U, archives, assessment, biography, humanities, life writing, teaching, The Space Between, women
I’ve decided to post an early draft of the prospectus for “Erotic Biography: Reading Intimate Lives” here for some feedback. This bit of folly is inspired by Adeline Koh‘s session on new forms of scholarly publishing and peer review at THATCamp Philly a few weeks ago, and in the spirit of looking forward to good conversations at the Modernist Studies Association conference this week, where I’ll be speaking on some of this.
Readers past, present, and future are invited to leave comments. I’m hoping to have a final version to send out by June 2012, along with some chapters. Basic civility and no stealing would be appreciated, but besides that I welcome and would be grateful for any feedback.
I’ll be attending THATCamp Philly on Saturday, September 24 — a day-long unconference focusing on technology and the humanities. Looking forward to bringing some cool stuff back to Widener.
Read more here.