Publication in Literature Compass

Lit Compass ArticleAlthough 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.”

Publication in Persuasions!

My copy of Persuasions, Vol. 34.
My copy of Persuasions, Vol. 34.

Click here (and scroll down) to check out the table of contents for Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal, Volume 34 (2012). Anne Mellor and I collaborated on an article entitled Austen’s Fanny Price, Grateful Negroes, and the Stockholm Syndrome in which we argue that the psychological responses of Maria Edgworth’s black slave in her story “The Grateful Negro” (1804) match those of Fanny Price living as a subjugated dependent in Mansfield Park. We focus on the dynamics of gratitude illuminated by Edgeworth’s text, and suggest that Austen, by drawing an analogy between Fanny Price and the “grateful Negro,” is not endorsing an ameliorationist program of benevolent slavery or a self-regulating Christian imperialism, but rather exposing the abject subjectivity produced by such a program.

Many thanks are due to Professor Mellor for her collaboration and support during the writing and editing process!

Off the Beaten Track…

I’m creating a page on this site (here) where I keep track of one of my favorite recurring tropes of tourism, both historical and contemporary. It’s this idea that having a real experience of a place – experiencing the “authentic” Paris or the “real” Los Angeles – means going somewhere where the other tourists don’t tend to go, or to which only locals can give you access. Dean MacCannell, author of The Tourist (one of the most important texts on the topic) writes that this search for getting off the “beaten track” “suggests that somewhere in tourist settings there are real events accessible to intellectual elites” (105). Jonathan Culler, in his essay “The Semiotics of Tourism,” writes that this is the “most common motif” of tourism (159 in Framing the Sign).

Obviously, the big societal/cultural question to consider is why we are so concerned with authenticity in the first place. What are we doing in our daily lives that makes us want to find something “authentic” when we leave home? And what does the experience of “authenticity” feel like to someone in the midst of experiencing it?

Omeka presentation for a UCLA Cluster seminar

Just put together this presentation for this Freshman Cluster’s seminar here at UCLA. Their instructor is assigning them this assignment in which they have to curate a collection related to the “history of Los Angeles” using Omeka – a free online curatorial platform. I’m eager to see what they come up with.

I’ve presented on building Omeka sites before (here’s my sample site that I plan to one day turn into something relevant to my dissertation), and the major issues that come up have to do with the relationship between “Collections,” “Exhibits,” “Sections,” “Pages,” and “Items.” Miriam Posner’s great handout is helpful (click here).

Put simply, the best way to use Omeka is to think of it as a museum. Items are your museum’s objects. You upload images (or an image) of them and classify them according to Dublin Core metadata fields. You store them in collections – which I think of shelves or storage rooms in the back of the museum. But just as you wouldn’t be able to store a sculpture in two different rooms at the same time, you also can’t store an Omeka item in two different collections.

Once you have amassed a good number of items (and arranged them into collections – or not), you can then put together an Exhibit. An exhibit in Omeka has sections, just like an exhibit in a museum has different rooms. Pages can be thought of as walls in that room of that exhibition.

Here’s my visualization of this metaphor:

Here's a visual rendering of the relationship between Exhibits, Sections, Pages, and Items in Omeka.
Here’s a visual rendering of the relationship between Exhibits, Sections, Pages, and Items in Omeka.

So for example: let’s say in your exhibit on “British Tourism” (to borrow from my own research), you organize one room for maps and one room for souvenirs. Then you would put all of Byron’s souvenirs on one wall and all of Dickens’ on another one. The room for maps is one section and the wall of Byronic souvenirs would be a page on Omeka.

Does that make sense? I hope so. Omeka is good for making exhibits – but people run into problems when they try to square-peg-round-hole it (like by using it as a blog).

There are some other features worth noting about Omeka – its multi-curator capabilities, its various themes, tagging, making public v. private items, adding simple pages for content, featuring items/collections/exhibits etc – but it’s best, when presenting on it, to start by clarifying the relationship between collections, exhibits, sections, pages, and items (the Omekan macrocosm to the Omekan microcosm!) before delving into too much detail about the other features.

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