Friday, 25 November 2016

follow-up to our class on sound and image

Sorry to be a bit late with the follow-up post this week. Slides are now posted in the usual place on BB in PDF.

Here are links to three items I mentioned at the beginning of class: the Iguana, a blog run by MISC which is looking for posts (and willing to accept reposts from your class blog); the iJournal, the student-run iSchool journal, which will be looking for submissions before long (for which you might consider your final papers or even your encoding challenge projects); and the call for papers for the graduate student colloquium for the Book History and Print Culture program, on the theme of "Form, Function, Intent: Materiality and the Codification of Knowledge." You don't have to be a student to submit a proposal for the BHPC student colloquium, and I recommend considering it -- it's been a really worthwhile gathering every time it's run. When the iSchool graduate student conference issues its call for papers, I'll let you know about that, too.

In this class and our previous one we discussed Alice in Wonderland and its illustrations. If you're interested in the history of its publication and illustration, see the Harry Ransom's Center's description of John Tenniel's work. Also, the British Library has made available a digitization of Lewis Carroll's illustrated manuscript, which he gave to the original Alice in 1864. Finally, if you'd like to explore the Brabant Collection of Lewis Carroll material at the U of T's Fisher Rare Book Library, you can read about it here:

We also spent time discussing a photographic facsimile of Shakespeare's 1623 First Folio that was published in the mid-1860's. As one of the first photographic facsimiles of a rare book, it was an example of new media in its own time. Specifically we contrasted the claims made in an advertisement against the material evidence that survives from the making of the facsimile -- each of which tells a different story about accuracy. The linked image below will take you to the fully readable issue of The Publisher's Circular from 1864:


Against the rather grandiose claims for accuracy made in the ad, we contrasted the proof-corrections made by Howard Staunton (named in the ad), as he worked with the printer to correct numerous errors arising from the photographic and lithographic processes. This detail from Staunton's proof copy at the Folger Shakespeare Library gives hints at some real exasperation with all the errors (click for a more detailed image):

In this image, we can see Staunton telling the printer to fix errors that cause long-s characters to look like the letter f, as well as other letters that aren't registering on the paper. These are small errors, but the pages of Staunton's proof-copy of the facsimile are full of these kinds of corrections. As we discovered in our XML assignment, the accurate reproduction and representation of texts takes a lot of work and can depend upon hidden labour and human judgment, whether in modern digitization projects or early photographic facsimiles. Bonnie Mak's article "Archaeology of a Digitization," which we read this week, serves as a useful link between those worlds.

We spent a bit less time on the topic of sound, but if you found the Ruberry article on Edison interesting, I recommend checking out this Smithsonian exhibition on Alexander Graham Bell. I got to see the actual exhibition at the National Museum of American History a few times while in DC researching Bell in the Library of Congress and Smithsonian archives, and it was very well done. You can still experience online one of the most interesting aspects of the exhibition, which was the chance to listen to recovered sound recordings from the late nineteenth century, including Bell's own voice. The account of the recovery project itself is a fascinating account of media forensics, and the use of new technologies to study old ones.