Anecdotal Illustrations

Nancy Nicholson's "Careless Lady" is a short poem, accompanied by an illustrative watercolor.  The poem, which describes a "lovely", "careless lady" who gives her child to a beggar, is painted in a humorous fashion, where the aloof mother is dancing on the doorstep of her ocean-side townhouse. 

The townhouse stairs serve curiously as a sort of mote, where the flowing water seems to dispose itself in the vast ocean background.  And the beggar has a sort of animalistic look to him--- his red beard reminiscent of a lion's mane.  A dog sits a the beggars feet, and is looking up at the beggar holding the baby.  The baby itself has an ambiguous, androgenous quality, and somewhat resembles a baby cow.  It becomes strange than that it is only this dancing woman who is clearly human, though not clearly humane.

"The New Thelema" in Rythm

  "The New Thelema" in Rhythm was an article written by Fredrick Goodyear for the Summer of 1911. This article discussed how the people of that time didnt have much of a voice as far as rights, work or most of their lives in general. Fredrick Goodyear discussed how these people had what was called "Thelema" or a "Thelematic Idea" which was a future dream they hoped for. They wanted men to be able to go out and work as they wished without being demanded or told how or when. This was an age where people didnt have freedom. As stated in the article, in order for them to win the freedom, these people had to also construct and design it.

  The poem "Sic Transit" by Michael T.H. Sadler was a poem about the city of Mantua. Michael Sadler discussed how the city vanished and became a ghost town. All that remained were the buildings that once held important, proud and wealthy people. The "green grass turned blue" and everything seemed to have become depressing. The author ends his poem by stating "and I am left here to mourn mantua". The mood of this poem is sad and depressing as the author expresses the envrionment of this "ghost town" it helps you invision something that once was beautiful to something that had become old and meaningless.

Science in The New Age

In the first article reviewed, "The Nebular Origins of Life," R.W. Western discusses the scientific conventional thinking of the time on the origin of life. It is interesting in that Western seems skeptical of scientists trying to dabble in the metaphysics. He writes that scientists "have set the example of indulging in speculations in which imagination has played a greater part than scientific method"(90). The duration of the article depicts a skeptical writer of the newest theories of the day whether the theories proffered were spontaneous generation or importation.

In the next two articles identically titled, "Relativity and Metaphysics," there is a change of direction. The author, in the second article (on a chronological basis) delineates the effect that the theory of relativity, which altered the perception of the universe ubiquitously, should allow for the quantum theory to be held up to the same introspection. This is interesting because at the time of publishing, the quantum theory which is now called the old quantum theory, has essentially been altered to include all movements not just ones that obeyed the old quantum condition (the old quantum condition required that the movements would be restricted to those that the integral would allow, which restricts plausible possibilities of quantum movement). The author goes into detail about special relativity and its conceptual consequences concerning electromagnetic radiation energy and length contraction. In addition, the author attempts to continuously compare the concepts of relativity to the human process. In fact he uses a term repetitively, the ego-entity, which is a term he defines in the first of the two articles.

The author defines ego-entity through a series of contrasts, but his initial attempt can be viewed as the simplest. If one were to separate the world into two categories, the measured and the measurement, the author contends that the ego-entity is the measurements that we produce not because of truth, but because of our essential nature. That nature being the "bourn" of our conceptualization of space and time which is unable to perceive of the infinite. Therefore the ego-entity has the innate quality of being a comprehendible thought.

One example the author provides for elucidation of the ego-entity is the idea of identifying a mark. If one were to perceive the mark as in a certain frame of space it requires the addition of the time dimension for it to be understood. For instance, look outside the window, it looks like a two-dimensional graph of a scene. What makes the picture have a 3rd dimension is movement. For without movement, the view of scenery could be a 2-dimensional drawing. The same is with the mark, for the human mind to conceive of it, it must be placed within a finite space and in a finite time, for without these two conditions, it is the abstract. That is exactly what the ego-entity requires for it to be categorized as such.



First Computer Lab Meeting

Tomorrow (6/3) we will meet at our normal class time at the West End Building (W.E.B.) to learn how to edit the course website and the interactive timeline.

For the timeline section, you'll need the information that I asked you to gather as you familiarized yourselves with the magazines. Before class, please make sure you have the following information for the 2 or 3 items you will be posting to the timeline.

  • Item title
  • Item date (the date of the issue)
  • Item genre (i.e. Poem, Short Story, Essay, Review, Drawing, Painting, Sculpture)
  • Topic(s) (i.e. Nationality, Empire, Race, Gender, Feminism, Socialism, Individualism, Vorticism, World War I)
  • Page number(s)
  • Author(s)
  • Magazine title

This information will populate the filter and color coding functions of the timeline, so make sure you've got stuff to add!

If you haven't already, please log in to the website using your first and last name as you would write them normally, plus the last four digits of your Social Security number as the password, like so:

Jane Doe

Since this password is not very secure, please change it immediately to somthing you'll remember by clicking on the "My account" link to the right.

See you tomorrow.


Welcome To the Course

It was great meeting all of you today, and thanks for taking this course. When you have a chance, please log in to the course website with the username and password that was emailed to you individually. There are two things you should do right away:

  1. Change your password to something you'll remember by clicking on the "My account" link (in the right sidebar below your name) and then on the Edit tab. Enter a new password and click on the Save button.
  2. Write a comment to this post letting me know that you were able to log in and change your password. Click on the "Add new comment" link below.

We'll cover more website basics in our computer lab meeting on Wednesday. See you tomorrow!

Clifford Wulfman Visit & Last Day of Class

Many thanks to Clifford Wulfman for traveling all  the way from Princeton to speak with us about modernist magazines and the MJP. Also, I'd like to thank all of you for helping to make such a lively and interesting discussion. It was a fitting way to wind down the term, but don't forget that we have the Foucauldian and Barthesian pyrotechnics for the last day of class.

It's been suggested that we have a celebration this Thursday. I think it's a great idea, so I'll bring in some fresh assorted Italian cookies from a local bakery. If you'd like to bring some food or drink too -- or perhaps paper plates, cups, or napkins -- please list it in a comment to this post.

See you Thursday.

21 & 24 July: James Joyce's Ulysses in The Little Review, James Joyce

This week we'll read the "Wandering Rocks" episode (chapter 10) of James Joyce's high modernist novel Ulysses. The novel takes place in Dublin, Ireland, and follows an entire day in the lives of Stephen Dedalus (a young artist) and Leopold Bloom (a middle-class, middle-aged advertisement canvasser) on June 16th, 1904. Each episode (chapter) of Ulysses bears a set of correspondences to a story from Homer's Odyssey (the cyclops, the island of Circe, etc.). "Wandering Rocks," however, is the only episode not based on the Homeric paradigm. Rather, it comes from the tale of Jason and the argonauts, where the wandering rocks were boulders that moved about in the sea as a danger to sailors. The argonauts make it through the pass but not without their stern being clipped by the clashing rocks at the end.

The "Wandering Rocks" episode takes place between 3 and 4 in the afternoon and follows various characters (the wandering rocks) as they move around Dublin doing various things. It's a portrait of the city and its people in motion from many different angles. You'll notice that the episode is divided into small sections separated by stars, some of which contain lines from other sections. Where those intrusions occur, the idea is that the two events are simultaneous.

Joyce composed a schema of the techniques, symbols and anchoring facts of Ulysses and sent it to his friend Carlo Linati. The information given for "Wandering Rocks" is as follows:

Time: 3-4pm
Color: Rainbow
People: Objects, Places, Forces, Ulysses
Science/Art: Mechanics
Meaning: The hostile environment
Technic: Labyrinth
Organ: Blood
Symbols: Caesar, Christ, errors, homonyms, synchronisms, resemblances

It might help to keep in mind that Joyce's prose style does not use quotation marks. He uses an em dash (—) at the beginning of a paragraph to indicate a character's speech. Narratorial comment (i.e he said, he did) as well as a character's stream of consciousness often appear after a comma or with no discernible punctuation to set them apart. It involves a certain skill in observation to recognize what is speech, thought, or action, but Joyce is very consistent so it's not difficult to grasp.

Ulysses was first published in book form on February 2, 1922 (Joyce's 40th birthday) after being partially serialized in The Egoist (London) and The Little Review (Chicago, later New York). When Joyce would finish a manuscript of a chapter, he would have it typed and would send the typescript to Ezra Pound, who was foreign editor of The Little Review and a contributing editor of The Egoist. Pound would sometimes edit the typescript before sending it to the magazines. "Wandering Rocks" appeared in the June and July 1919 numbers of The Little Review and the December 1919 (final) number of The Egoist. I chose this episode because it does little to advance the novel's plot and therefore does not depend much on prior events.

Please don't hesitate to use the comments below for any questions or observations about "Wandering Rocks" and this week's material.

For Monday 7/14; Tech Workshop Requests

I just want to say that yesterday's presentations did a good job of bringing out the conflicts and contradictions in your respective aspects of The New Age. There was some good analysis as well as the exposure of some potentially fruitful points of research. For Monday, we'll hear from the two groups that still need to present and will then discuss Ardis, Morrisson and Bornstein. This will wrap up our study of The New Age and bring us into the wider world of avant-garde magazines and cultures. Our reading for Thursday 7/17 will consist solely of what you bring to the table in your readings of the other magazines at the MJP.

You'll also notice that I've changed the Descriptive Bibliography assignment to remove the presentations and place a focus on what values your magazine ascribes to the literary. This will form the background of our discussion on Thursday. Much information might be found in the MJP’s introduction to the journal you’re studying, in the Essays section, and in the Biographies area. Those interested in further research can check out the Books and Periodicals Database. I've added more practical information to the assignment page, so please do read it over again.

Also, since some of you expressed interest in technology workshops, use the comments here to (1) make requests, (2) indicate your availability, and (3) say whether you primarily use a Mac or a PC. I'll find out what facilities we can use at Brooklyn and will set something up.

Have a great weekend!

Thoughts on the Archive Presentation

I thought Marianne LaBatto's presentation on the Special Collections archive was fascinating, as it dovetailed nicely with some of the issues we discussed in class re: archives and the Modernist Journals Project. In particular, I was struck by the fact that the Special Collections archive functions as an organ of institutional memory for the College. The collection of print ephemera -- tickets, flyers, student literary magazines and newspapers, yearbooks, and faculty or alumni manuscripts and print drafts -- seemed to have value in that these items "pay tribute" to the history of Brooklyn College and its effect on local, regional, and even national culture. It was very telling in that regard when Marianne was asked by one of us (very astutely) why Alan Dershowitz chose to give his papers to Brooklyn College instead of Harvard: her answer, "he credits Brooklyn College for his career." So the archive seems to perform a role in furthering the institution's ideology.

As discussed in class, an archive is a site for the storage and production of knowledge, and its institutional politics will always somehow affect the knowledge produced from its holdings. Marianne's advice to do your secondary research before going to the archive for primary research was very sound indeed. However, I was struck by her statement that the archive staff does not do any interpretation for you. Their job, she says, is to collect, arrange, describe, preserve, and make available items that are precious or of "enduring value." I think that the actions of bibliographical / archival description, arrangement, and production of access mechanisms do involve some interpretation of the materials. In particular, their method of categorizing the Dershowitz papers down to the folder level involves an intimate knowledge of the material in order to schematize its organization and to produce the accompanying research guide. Also, what does it mean that a researcher will sometimes only be allowed to view a smaller selection of the items requested? As well, the fact that the archive can only keep a certain number of items of "enduring value" that requires a "certain amount of prophecy" in decision-making speaks to the amount of interpretation and institutional politics involved.

At any rate, I'm curious to know what were your thoughts on the presentation. Also, since most of our archival reading is digital, what was your experience in handling the physical artifacts? Do you have a sense of what is lost and gained in the digitization process?