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Pop-up Exhibition: Word Minus Image

By Anne Welsh, on 6 August 2011

At lunchtime on 4 October 2011 UCL Art Museum will be hosting a pop-up exhibition for which I am selecting works of art that started life as book illustration.

You can read more about the pop-up and the Autumn exhibition in which it takes place on the UCL DIS Staff Blog.

Playing the Margins

By Anne Welsh, on 18 March 2011

As the clock ticks to midnight, I thought I would start the Day of Digital Humanities with a post about Playing the Margins, a public engagement project led by MA LIS students Paris O’Donnell and Sian Prosser. Sian and Paris have both taken Digital Resources in the Humanities and Historical Bibliography, and we are delighted to see them putting their learning (and previous experience) into practice in this project, funded by UCL’s Train & Engage Scheme.

Paris and Sian write:

The aim of Playing the Margins is to bring drama students and actors into UCL Special Collections to engage with early printed books relating to their interests. The project is being supported by the Public Engagement Unit and Special Collections at UCL. The workshops concentrate on readers’ marks and annotations, and give participants insights into how earlier readers left traces of their engagement with dramatic (as well as non-dramatic) texts. Inspired by our studies of digital humanities and historical bibliography at UCL DIS, Playing the Margins is an experiment in using digital tools to explore reading practices and dramatic performance.

In the workshop, participants will be invited to reflect on their own marking practices in scripts and play-texts, and to think about taboos or proscriptions relating to writing in books. Then, participants are presented with examples of interesting annotations, ownership marks and other readers’ marks taken from UCL’s Special Collections, so they can explore the continuities between their reading/annotating practices and those of early readers. The workshop concludes with participants inscribing virtually a photographic image of a text they have encountered, using a digital tablet which captures handwriting. Their recorded hand-written engagements will form the basis for an online blog and exhibition, which will also showcase participants’ further written and/or spoken reflections on the workshop.

We’re really looking forward to hearing more about Sian’s and Paris’s experiences and findings through the project, and especially, to following the blog that they are in the process of setting up. Watch this space (and Sian’s Day of DH blog) for more.

Printing in the Digital Age

By Anne Welsh, on 16 March 2011

Last Thursday, Julianne Nyhan and I accompanied some of the students from the Historical Bibliography module on a visit to the Bibliography Room in Oxford.

The trip was suggested by Elizabeth Gallagher, who as well as studying on UCL’s MA LIS, is a member of staff at the Bodleian Library, and who was able to introduce us to Paul Nash, who runs printing workshops.

Historical Bibliography is a ten-week module comprising a series of lectures on the history of the book and hands-on sessions at UCL Special Collections. From September 2011, it will be an optional module for the new MA DH.

Early in the course, the whole class also visits St Bride’s Printing Library, where they can see printing presses. At our last visit in October 2010, St Bride’s wasn’t quite ready to give practical experience in printing, so for the eleven students who opted into the Bibliography Room trip, this was their first experience using a handpress.

I asked the students and Julianne if they would be kind enough to share their thoughts on the visit, and how it had affected their thinking about printing and its impact on their work, as librarians, and in Julianne’s case, an academic in the online-always world.

Initially, the intention was to include some quotes in a blog post, but the responses were so interesting that I decided I couldn’t really cut them down. So I’ve compiled a slideshow report, and Julianne has given permission to upload her impressions and link to them as a pdf.

As the module coordinator for the Historical Bibliography, it was an absolute joy to see students (and my colleague) enjoying printing and its complexity, and an even greater joy to read their responses. As MA LIS student Jennifer Howard put it

There has been a massive shift from the use of the type mould and typeset plate to the use of Word and programming languages for web publishing, but that only made me realize how much potential there still is for things to change later on.
Or, from Julianne:
I had initially approached this outing from a historical perspective, hoping that it would help me grapple with some of my research questions. I had not expected that it would enable me to examine what is for me the utterly normal and every day act of using a computer to write with and through in an utterly new way.

For any lecturer, there is possibly no greater pleasure than sharing your passions with students and colleagues, and seeing them integrate them with their own existing experiences – taking them, and therefore you, somewhere new.

Many thanks to Paul Nash, Elizabeth Gallagher and the Bodleian Library; and to Julianne Nyhan and the Historical Bibliography students – it’s wonderful to see my own discipline from fresh eyes, almost as a tourist at home.