Archive for November, 2011

Pue’s Recommendations for November

7 November 2011

Juliana Adelman My joyful return to fiction reading has continued (albeit at a slower pace now that deadlines are approaching).  Last month I enjoyed The man who was Thursday: a nightmare by G. K. Chesterton and now, having gotten into the Edwardian mode, I am moving on to Tono-Bungay by H. G. Wells.  Back to the nineteenth century and I’ll be heading to see an adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, one of my favourite books from childhood, at the Gate Theatre.  Back to the realm of history work and I am grateful to a librarian at the National Library of Ireland for pointing out the digital resource of the Hathi Trust library.  Much nicer to use than Google Books, with a number of ways to read and view, it has a surprising number of Irish-relevant books.  Finally, I love Belfast at this time of year because it kind of reminds me of New England.  Take a walk through the Botanic Gardens and visit the excellent Ulster Museum.  And if you’re hasty you might be able to get tickets to hear Americana music and listen to Ian Rankin read from his new book on the 11th and 12th.  in an event organised by my favourite book shop, No Alibis.

Lisa Marie Griffith Perhaps because the weather is finally getting colder my main plans for this month are to get through a long list of films.  The French Film Festival runs at the IFI between 16th and 27th of November. One of the films that stands out on the programme is The Silence of Joan. It focuses on an invented narrative of the last days of Joan of Arc. My week with Marilyn is also out at the end of the month and features Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe. Sigor Ros’s second concert film Inni (Inside) is also released this month. I was really disappointed to miss Sarah’s Key when it was in the cinema during the summer. The film looks at the round-up of Paris’s Jewish population by the Vichy government in 1942 and is released on dvd this month.

Tina Morin This month, I’m treating my hubby to tickets to see  The Saw Doctors, who are playing in a variety of venues across Ireland and Northern Ireland throughout the month. We’re also considering going to Belfast’s Waterfront Hall on 30 November to catch Dave Gorman, the guy behind the hilarious Googlewhacking Adventure and Are You Dave Gorman? For those of you unfamiliar with Gorman, ‘googlewhacking’, in his terms, refers to the phenomenon of entering a search term into Google and getting a single hit. I’ve seen bits and pieces of the show he produced after his travels around the world trying to identify as many ‘googlewhacks’ as possible, and it’s incredibly funny! On a more serious note, I’m completely immersed in an education by fire of digital humanities for a grant application I’m preparing and have been delving through myriad web resources to familiarise myself with terms and techniques while also getting a feel for design, layout, etc. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is absolutely essential for getting the necessary ‘tech-speak’ and for learning what’s behind the terminology. And, showing the incredible possibilities of digital resources beyond the obvious digitisation of primary texts, is the DHO:Discovery website, which links scholars with the digital holdings of an impressive range of Irish-based collections, allowing for inter-collection searching and comparison as well as offering an innovative range of ‘visualisations’ of material.

Kevin O’Sullivan I’m a little late to this I’m sure, but for those of you who’ve been participating in or, like me, fascinated from afar by Ireland’s own mass observation project, then you’ll have been intrigued by the film Life in a Day, produced by Ridley Scott and filmed by a cast of thousands from around the world in July 2010, that was broadcast on BBC2 last week. Well worth checking out. This month has also been a good one on the reading front. I’ve just finished Alice Wondrack Biel’s Do (Not) Feed the Bears, a fascinating, if not always the  most eloquent account of man’s relationship with wildlife in America’s national parks. I doubt the medieval world looked much like the fantasy depicted in George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones, but who cares? The book’s at times sloppy, at times makes your skin crawl, but it always demands your attention. A great piece of escapism. Finally, an app to make your life easier: for those of you with any kind of computer, laptop and/or smartphone who haven’t discovered Evernote yet, check it out. The possibilities are boundless.

The art of eavesdropping

4 November 2011



The picture above is by Knut Ekwall, a Swedish painter (no, I hadn’t heard of him either).  It’s actually entitled ‘The proposal’, and in the room behind the eavesdropper you can make out a man and a woman in conversation.  As I come to the end of my first week as part of the Mass Observation project I have been realizing that my eavesdropping skills are not so hot.  In fact, my observation skills are not so great either.  On the bus I have learned to tune OUT rather than tune IN; and besides, hardly anyone talks!  Walking down the street I tend not to look directly at anyone, but to be thinking about something and simply using my eyes to avoid obstacles.  I most definitely don’t usually try to count pieces of rubbish or numbers of people smoking or people wearing red coats.  I thought a cafe would be a good place to hear what people are talking about but in fact there was so much chatter and noise that I could hardly pick anyone’s voice out.  The loudest and clearest person in any situation is always the person on their mobile phone.  Unfortunately sometimes it is hard to make out what they are talking about with only one half of the conversation.  And don’t get me started on hand cramp induced from actually having to use a pen for an extended period to take down my notes…This has been a useful learning experience already!





The Metaphysical Angst of Publishing

2 November 2011

By Christina Morin

The recent publication of my book has been an extremely exhilarating but also unexpectedly heart-wrenching experience. Back when I finished my PhD, I remember joking with people about how I was suffering from post-PhD blues, but I never expected such a thing to happen upon completion of my monograph. It’s not exactly that I didn’t have anything to occupy me after finishing the manuscript. Precisely the opposite actually… I was already working on a new project and was so focused on the demands of my new research that I had little enough time to mourn the passing of the old. Whereas the submission of my PhD was followed by a bewildering aimlessness caused by the sudden loss of that which had occupied the majority of my time for the previous four and half years, therefore, the monograph left my hands with a sigh of relief and the recognition that now I could turn my attention to looming deadlines and articles promised long ago. And, where I worried about my thesis being ripped to shreds by heartless examiners upon completion of my PhD, I didn’t give much thought to the emotional angst that might accompany the publication of my monograph.

In this state of blithe emotional stupidity, I was struck with the vehemence with which post-publication anxiety took hold of me. Whereas pre-publication I was able to comfort myself with the thought of peer-review processes and other such evaluation techniques by which my manuscript had been found a valid and even valuable addition to current literary criticism, all such ability left me in the immediate aftermath of publication itself. Read more

Field notes

1 November 2011

By Juliana Adelman

My dad recently sent me a kind of odd little book entitled Field Notes on Science and Nature.  The book is a compilation of essays on the form, history and importance of field notes to which are added several examples of field notes.  As the title suggest, the field notes in question are of those of scientific naturalists.  The arrival was timely, since I am today beginning my participation in the Mass Observation Dublin 2011 project.  The book got me thinking about the obvious ways in which our recording of information has changed dramatically, not only in form but in substance.  The substance of what we record is affected by the forms we use to record it.  The contributors to Field Notes argued for the importance of recording by hand, of making drawings as a part of observation and of keeping records of information in an open-minded way.  They suggested that natural history students should try to be a bit more like Darwin and a bit less reliant on digital media.  It made me stop to wonder what a historian’s field note book might look like?  How many of you still take notes on paper or do you take them all on laptops?  What kinds of notes do you take on paper and what kinds on computers?  Archaeologists, geographers and art historians might find that they still use visual means of recording from sketches to digital photographs.  I know that I often take photographs to record texts for later transcription, or occasionally to remember visual aspects of a manuscript or book.  But on the whole, I don’t see too many historians with sketchbooks. Read more