Faced with the happy task of writing some syllabi, I’ve been trolling the webs for information about How To Make A Good Syllabus That Both Satisfies Departmental Requirements And Is Accessible. I was particularly motivated by a Twitter discussion I lurked in on—can’t remember the hashtag now—and want to incorporate some of what I’ve learned.
For instance, making use of “Headings” in Word when I’m creating information hierarchies. This was a practice I developed while formatting my dissertation. Now I’m obsessed with clearing formatting on every document I use and re-ordering everything so I can have a nice Navigation Sidebar for every window. (Google Docs actually does a nice job of this as well—it became more convenient to use while teaching high school for various reasons involving sharing and displaying on my SmartBoard.)
Now in search of some helpful advice online, I am collecting sites and listing them below. I hope to keep track of this in some sort of organized fashion:
Will be exploring what it offers and how it is formatted in more detail.
My own travel writing database is quite specific to the readings I’ve been doing for the past 5 years – whenever I stumble across a reference to a guidebook—sometimes within a guidebook—I put it in my list. My list has grown into a spreadsheet and at the moment, I’m trying to figure out what tags I want to use and how to notate the ways in which travelers used and referenced each others’ writings.
I wrote an email to a friend today in which I summarized my dissertation casually. I am quoting it here because I rarely write about my dissertation in casual email form, and it was fun to summarize it outside the context of a job market letter.
The subject is the evolution of the guidebook genre and how middle class mass tourists liked reading guides that condescended to them – touring as aspirational role-playing. (Tourists liked to think of themselves as Lord Byron.) Also about the way religious politics make their way into the guidebooks – because Anglos loved the exoticism of watching Roman Catholic rituals in Italy and France. I have a chapter on a radical Catholic priest who wrote the first 19th c proto-guidebook – John Chetwode Eustace. Really fascinating weird figure. Then a chapter on Hobhouse (Byron’s best friend) who hated Eustace. A chapter on John Murray III, the publisher and his 1840s guides to Northern Italy. A chapter on Ruskin and Venice. Last is a chapter about this woman from the 1860s who went on Thomas Cook’s first guided tour of the Alps – Jemima Morrell. She wrote a hilarious journal about her trip.
While my Storymap version of the Morrell chapter map is still in progress here, I completed a very thorough map using Google Maps of her route.
My goal in this map is to show the form of travel (train/boat/foot) rather than the precise routes and roads taken. Using the rather rough line-drawing tool of the platform was a good way to show the form (using color) – but the lines are rather blunt. The value of showing the type of travel for this chapter is in demonstrating A) how varied the transportation was for members of Morrell’s traveling group and B) just how much ground they covered nearly every single day. And they rose around 4am and fell asleep after 10pm regularly. Such robustness.
I plan to do a separate map to outline their four days in Paris at the tail end of their journey – such running about town on foot and feeling pushed around on omnibuses. (I’d like to find a good image of an 1860s omnibus!)
I was recently looking through my teaching materials from semesters of yore and stumbled upon what might be my favorite handouts that I’ve ever made for undergraduates. (I spent a great deal more time making handouts for my high school students in the Bronx… maybe to be shared at a future date; finding them will involve some excavation.) These come from a lecture I gave to a class – English 10B “Literatures in English, 1700-1850” – for which I was a Teaching Assistant for Professor Sarah Kareem. I am particularly amused by these two images, which I passed out and included in the power-point presentation I prepared for this lecture. The first is an image illustrating the “frame narrative” of Shelley’s Frankenstein; the second is the Shelley-Wollstonecraft-Byron-etc family tree. Enjoy!
UCLA awarded me a fellowship to visit the Turner Bequest at the Tate Britain (curated by history’s worst curator, John Ruskin) and the glorious John Murray Archive at the National Library of Scotland. I plan to post more about this luxurious academic adventure – but first to Keats’ house (ok it was closed) and Kenwood House in the Heath.
From a childhood spent reading Victorian novels, I had already concocted some notions about what I believe a “Heath” should look like. I think those notions mainly stem from associations I’ve made with the name “Heathcliff.” In any case, I found myself gamboling around the Hampstead Heath for a few days at the beginning of my trip–and probably to the annoyance of my host, I insisted upon using that phrase to the exclusion of any others that would do the same descriptive job.
I stayed in a flat (Mom, that is what they call apartments there) overlooking the Heath-thankful for the hospitality of a friend from my undergraduate years. She lives across the street from where George Orwell lived and worked for many years and down the road from Keats’ old house. More importantly, she lives around the corner from Benedict Cumberbatch. Unfortunately, despite my repeated truly necessary detours by his street, I failed to spot him.
My friend informed me, to my great delight, that one can simply apply to be the caretaker of these National Trust homes. All you have to do is live upstairs and open the doors a couple times a week for visitors… Can this be true? I could die happy in Keats’ house.
We also paid a visit to Lord Mansfield’s manor right in the Heath: Kenwood House. I kept breathing that air, that air too pure for the lungs of slaves. The house had a few choice Rembrandts and the library was fully furnished with fake books. Just as one can go on Ebay now and buy “old books” to decorate your shelves (see pics), the lower shelves of Mansfield’s library were lined with boxes that had book bindings on the side that faced outwards. I discovered this when I went to touch one of them and the alarm went off. “The alarm goes off when you touch the books,” the guard on duty then informed me. …
I finally paid a visit to the Cook & Wedderburn monolith at the Young Research Library. Lo and behold:
Just an FYI, only 2062 copies of this 39-volume motherlode were printed.
As you can see in the photos, the publisher (London: George Allen and New York: Longmans, Green & Co.) did not skimp: the first image in the first volume is a full-color reproduction of Ruskin’s sketch “End of Market Str Croydon.”
It is with a bit of specialization-chauvanism that I mention that in this particular aisle in the library–the PR 5200s-5400s–one can find some extraordinarily beautiful texts. Here, I’ve snuck in a few pictures from the collected Waverley novels of Sir Walter Scott published in the 1890s and the 1923-24 Tusitala Editions of R.L. Stevenson, with gold-embossed palm trees. I need to find out who bound these!
You may already know that a chapter of my dissertation is about Jemima Morrell’s Swiss Journal, an account of Thomas Cook’s first guided group tour to the Alps. Morrell was one of 63 Britons who bought his 680 Fr. package. She and her six friends set out with Cook in 1863, armed with Murray and Baedeker handbooks, and climbed the Alps in their petticoats.
My paper for Session 670 at the MLA 2015 conference—found here—discusses the ways in which phrases that Morrell had lifted from the pages of her guidebooks found their way into the blogs, news articles, and promotional materials the celebrated the journey’s 150th anniversary in 2013.
A young poet who won a competition to recreate Morrell’s journey blogged (minimally) about her experience. She took down the website shortly thereafter, but I have managed to secure the URL for myself. (You are welcome.) The Wayback Machine has provided us with access to one of its pages. Please click here to check it out.
Although it is behind a paywall, my article in Literature Compass came out on September 3. Here is a link to its abstract. It’s called “19th-century Travel and the 21st-century Scholar.” It’s a survey of books published in the last ten years or so that describe nineteenth-century British tourism and its relationship to literature. I argue that given the development of the field over the past generation of scholars, they “need no longer apologize for interdisciplinarity nor for discarding the observance of strict boundaries between literary and non-literary genres.”