My last post, DH Alienation, questioned the direction of Digital Humanities and was a reflection on academia in general. Since then, there have been quite a few challenges, the most difficult was the passing of my stepfather from a 2-year battle with cancer, a happening that occurred a mere week after my older brother returned from his active duty in Afghanistan. During that time frame, I tackled training for and the successful completion of an Ironman triathlon (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, 26.2 mile run) — a feat that requires intense focus and commitment not unlike the long haul of completing a dissertation. I did it to allay some of the anxiety that was starting to close in on me through the last year or so. And, being an intensely private person about my family to my f2f colleagues, I didn’t discuss these happenings with anyone in my department, at least not in any official capacity until I was forced to do so during one or two meetings. I was reminded during that year of the importance of being focused on goals — and I returned to the reasons why I got into this business of being a professor. In the end, and this is clichéd but true, the journey is always greater than the result. Attempting to ignore all of the shenanigans that have been afoot in a variety of pockets around my professional life, I returned to my original project, the unfinished book manuscript that essentially culminates in 15 years of archival work. Forget Me Not: The Rise of the British Literary Annual, 1823–1835 (May 2015, Ohio University Press). Today, I submitted my final changes before the page proofs are returned to me for creating the index. FINALLY! Much of the last two years has been focused on getting those chapters, appendices, and images organized into a coherent literary history with an emphasis on bibliographical and textual study. I have not taken the traditional path to writing this book. First, it was a digital project, then a few articles in non-traditional publication venues, then many conference papers and keynote talks. All the while, I was determined *not* to follow the route of publishing in traditional print journals where my work would likely be inaccessible to most scholars due to subscription rates for print journals. In the end, I went with a university press for this project because they allowed me to include upwards of 95 images. The project comes out in print first — with a clause included in the contract that the book could become available as a digital download later. YES! Still. Forget Me Not! is a traditional, scholarly print book. Peer-reviewed (several times over the last five years). With endnotes (instead of footnotes, oh well). And, a compositor (essentially) who will set the page layout and adhere to a certain house style (immensely satisfying to this textual scholar). The revision from a dissertation took only 10 years post-graduate school. After much self-funded research and conference travel, much more than I care to tally, it’s done. I never thought of this project as an albatross, though. I was always gleeful to have the mental space to return to researching and writing on it. Even in this stage of going through the copyedits, I found so many more 18th and 19th-century periodicals, annuals, pocket-books available online through the Hathi Trust, the Internet Archive, and Google Books. Though the material object is erased in these archives (the wonderful leather covers and sewn bindings), access to their contents is astounding. The publication of this book, slated for release in Spring 2015, will clear some mental space to tackle a large, collaborative project that is still somewhat hush-hush. And, I have a hankering to return to the data analysis of short stories in literary annuals now that I’ve amassed not only a personal collection of 19th-century annuals, but also a treasure trove of scanned contents from them. After writing the Acknowledgements for this book, I am reminded that a literary scholar’s career is and always has been collaborative — all of the generosity from those mentioned kept me going both professionally and personally, something that has reminded me that this profession, with all of its contingent disruptions, is totally worth it. Thanks, everyone!
Acknowledgements – from Forget Me Not!
After discovering a fascinating footnote on the origin of some Romantic-era women’s poems, I became ensconced in a search for this text called a literary annual. Then–New York University faculty member Carolyn Dever introduced me to Marvin Taylor, of Fales Library at New York University, who allowed me to handle Fales’s collection of a dozen literary annuals, including the rare 1829 Friendship’s Offering. They were fascinating and exactly what every graduate student desires: something undiscovered! At a later point, David Greetham, of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, gave me the freedom to turn my small collection of literary annuals into a nascent digital archive with the proviso that the project adopt the strict protocols of a scholarly edition. The Wertheim Study at the New York Public Library Central Research branch, now renamed the Schwarzman Building, offered a quiet space to inspect the NYPL’s disparate collection of literary annuals in the general research collection during my years at the Graduate Center. Elizabeth Denlinger, curator of the Carl H. Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and His Circle, allowed me to inspect my first paperbound Forget Me Not literary annual volumes and then engaged me in invigorating conversations about the material artifact and rare book libraries. David Greetham continued to encourage my explorations into the history of literary annuals and has never wavered in his support of my work. Since the day I began this project, both the digital and the traditional version, Paula Feldman has offered guidance and advice about the study of literary annuals. Marilyn Gaull taught me how to write literary history just before she pushed me to study at the Graduate Center with David Greetham. A variety of faculty, including Gerhard Joseph, Patricia Clough, Anne Humphreys, Rachel Brownstein, and John Bowen (from the Dickens Universe), all inspired me to investigate the “so what” of these little books. Susan Wolfson, who led the seminar “Figures on the Margin: The Language of Gender in British Romanticism” for the Summer Seminar in Literary and Cultural Studies at West Virginia University in June 2003, provided a larger historical context to Romantic-era women poets and became an example and mentor for pushing the boundaries of literary criticism. Laura Mandell, Margaret Linley, and Martha Nell Smith have offered valuable advice throughout the years after generously reading through early versions of many chapters. The New Scholars award from the Bibliographical Society of America offered an early opportunity for me to give a talk at the annual meeting and then have a very lengthy version of the talk published in Papers of the Bibliographic Society of America, an article that launched my career. I offer many thanks to the Digital Humanists and Alan Liu at the First Annual Nebraska Digital Workshop, Center for Digital Research in the Humanities, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, September 2006 for helping to shape the digital side of this project, the Forget Me Not Hypertextual Archive. For my first of several trips to London, my thanks go to the Bibliographical Society (England) Research Grant, which funded further research at the British Library and other surrounding London archives in 2007. The Scholarship for Tuition to the University of Virginia’s Rare Book School to take the seminar “The Printed Book in the West since 1800,” held at the Grolier Club in New York City in January 2008, provided the opportunity to enhance my understanding of the evolution of printed works. My deepest gratitude is extended to Stephen Behrendt, who invited me to the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar “The Aesthetics of British Romanticism, Then and Today” in 2010 to work alongside a stellar group of Romantic-era scholars, especially Mercy Cannon, Soledad Caballero, and Kathleen Beres Rogers, all of whom (including Steve) read several drafts of the same chapters simultaneously and repeatedly restored my faith in this project, academic publishing, and colleagues. Thank you to the many intrepid research assistants who helped along the way: Amy Leonard, Robyn McCreight, Maria Judnick, Jennifer Cairns, and Hai Nguyen. Their curiosity about the project sparked many interesting conversations. To the Society for Textual Scholarship and the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing, great thanks are owed for the willing and gleeful exchanges about all things bibliographic and textual at many of their annual conferences—often the only conferences where my interests converged in an incredibly fruitful and exciting series of meetings. Wayne Storey offered guidance and urged me to complete the project, to get it out there—a sentiment echoed by Matt Kirschenbaum, who once told me that if the book was running long, footnote everything. Lorraine Kooistra’s interesting work on the Victorian side of literary annuals provided the impetus for soliciting Ohio University Press to publish this manuscript. Thank you to San Jose State University and the Department of English and Comparative Literature for the semester-long sabbatical in early 2012 for one last trip to the British Library and the time to clean up the manuscript before submission, as well as the award of several internal grants to work on parts of this project from 2006 through 2009. During that sabbatical, audiences at the University of Victoria, University of Birmingham, and King’s College offered intriguing perspectives on various aspects of this project. Conference attendees at the Studies in Gothic Fiction conference during this same sabbatical encouraged the pursuit of the Gothic theme in literary annuals. Thank you to Ray Siemens, James Mussell, Willard McCarty, and Franz Potter for those invitations. Thank you to those who have buoyed me since the beginning, from thoughtful e-mails on focusing chapters to clapping in celebration after a talk: Kathi Inman Berens, Jamie Skye Bianco, Roberto Herrera, Jeff Drouin, and Steve Ramsay. Heather, Dave, and Ogden have watched over my soul all these years, even from across the country. Tom Davis, a Silicon Valley original, is to thank for the gorgeous photos of these little books and has more than once collaborated on projects from interesting literary reads to blog posts on algorithms. An unlikely source of inspiration comes from my running and cycling partners, who demonstrate resilience, patience, generosity, and luminescence. I saved writing the acknowledgments until the very last moment and then wrote a lengthy draft thanking everyone for the past fifteen years of support. Somewhat anxious that I had left out some grant sponsor or archive, I erased the entire document. In the end, there is truly only one person to thank for this long-overdue but incredibly satisfying submission: Thank you, David Greetham