I haven't finished my search yet, and something may yet be lurking in the land of unpublished manuscripts, but it appears that no one has written a detailed, book-lengh analytical social history of Sherlockian (or Holmesian, as it is called on the other side of the pond) scholarship and fandom. Because I am that kind of person, mere "writings on the writings" are not enough for me, and I demand writings on the writings on the writings. A nice little piece on the origins of the pastime in the writings of Ronald Knox and Christopher Morley can be found here, and the Baker Street Journal has its own history series, but I'm hankering for something of a slightly different flavor and scope.
Ideally it would have extensive juicy detail on the particulars regarding the founding and develoment of the largest societies, but also plenty about how Sherlockiana intersects with other trends in reception history in the 20th century, as well as the relationships among Sherlockian scholarship, pastiche, and related readerly activities, including but not limited to the history of fanfic in general. It would have, if anything, more to say about (pseudo)scholarship in the Sherlockian mode than about pastiches. And it would be written by someone really contentious and fun, like John Carey (not that he would ever have the slightest interest in writing any such thing).
I have been known to a somewhat destructive personality myself, and God knows my teenage self often got the urge to go whacking on public property. But you just can't go smashing up the Ozarks Literacy Council. It's just, as they say, not on. DropCash is a nice new technology for just this kind of fundraiser. If you have a bit of cash to spare, you can be cutting edge and help my friend M. and her colleagues replace their expensive window.
David Crystal consults (more here) on original-pronunciation performances of Shakespeare. I've read somewhere else about rising interest in this notion, though I can't remember where, and it sounds in the New York Times article (first link) as if it hasn't been put into practice much since an attempt at Cambridge in 1953.
Speaking of 1953, the above-linked article from Early Modern Literary Studies gives a sense of the state of the art in that year, when Helge Kokeritz made the first systematic whack at an account of the phonetics of Shakespeare's dialect. Andrew Gurr reports that the results were unimpressive. Then again, he is of the opinion that the entire project is rather pointless and certainly doomed to failure, so you may want to take him with a grain of salt if you don't happen to agree with those conclusions.
The Times article mentions that Crystal has a small book forthcoming on his own work at the Globe. It's not showing up yet in online listings, but I believe it will be available from Cambridge University Press, eventually.
It went splendidly, and now I plan to take the weekend very seriously OFF. But hooray! Hurrah! Calloo! Callay! Et cetera.
A brief history of British SF fandom, by Rob Hansen.
Now that it is a mere week (less about five hours) until my exam, I have my actual list of topics in hand. These are fairly different from the ones I thought up, and frankly much better. (One might even say that they're fun.) I'm copying them in below, so that I can refer to them whenever the fancy strikes me, and so that you, dear readers, can see what I'm working on. I expect to be wandering in my fields of rumination until the eve of the exam myself, so I'll see you then.
1. Discuss how the study of language interacts with inquiries into strata, categories, genre, division, and categorizations of literature in the modern period. Examples include high vs. low, "modern" vs. "popular," innovative vs. standard, literary vs. everyday, but do not feel constrained by this illustrative list.
2. Discuss the phenomenon sometimes referred to as "levels of narration" or "narrative embedding." What sorts of texts illustrate this phenomenon, and what sorts of theories are currently available for representing this sort of thing? Is this a purely literary phenomenon, or does it have deeper roots in language, culture, or general cognition?
3. Choose one of the following theoretical constructs: frame, image-schema, construction, mental space, recursion, joint attention, presupposition. Discuss with specific examples the sorts of phenomena linguists and other ccognitive scientist use these constructs to model and explain. Where possible be sure to consider competing theories of the same phenomena. Show how these constructs might be profitably applied either to the analysis of primary texts, or to theoretical issues in the critical or cultural theory more generally, or both. Alternatively, you could explain why these constructs are inherently uninteresting [to], or otherwise prone to be treated as suspect by, literary and cultural critics and theorists.
This is a cautionary tale. I love to read the cultural criticism of earlier eras -- notice the examples I've cited here in the past couple of weeks -- but it's far too easy, in some cases, to assume that the authors' observations are sound. (George Orwell, I'm looking at your boys' weeklies and you!)
Wanting real-life people to behave like your favorite stereotype of their socio-economic class (cf. D.H. Lawrence's fruitless international search for a peasantry sufficiently in possession of the "vital life-throb") is hardly a defunct pastime: see this wonderful critique of the "facts" reported in David Brooks' infuriating article "One Nation, Slightly Divisible," which appeared in the Atlantic Monthly in December of 2001.
This is the piece where he purports to compare the prevailing culture of the "Red" Franklin County in Pennsylvania and the "Blue" Montgomery County, where I happen to live. I knew it was rife with overgeneralizations, glib telling details that don't tell the whole story, and mistaking the part for the whole in ways that seem uniformly motivated by the assumptions of the author's worldview, but I didn't realize just how thoroughly false it was until I read this Philadelphia Magazine article. It's a corker! (via Crooked Timber)
PS. The comments of that Crooked Timber article also have some interesting stuff to say about sprawl in my hometown of Pittsburgh.
in the past:
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