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Perspective

I had a very pleasant lunch today with a senior academic in my field, and we talked at length over the challenges and necessities of having books published, on both sides of the Atlantic. I have several promising ideas, the most immediately constructive of which, of course, involves turning several central chapters of my dissertation into the basis for a book. I should begin work on this posthaste, strike while the dissertation is fresh.

I have a new project I'm just starting work on, a history of invention edition. While there will be plenty of spin-off scholarship, I'm sure, the senior academic wisely gave me some perspect on the project: in history departments, editions don't count for much on the original scholarship scale. A pity, really, since there aren't nearly enough people working on editions and translations in medieval studies. I'll still be working on this project, but for the good of my immediate career prospects, I should spend less time working on it than other writing projects right now.

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
a_d_medievalist
Feb. 21st, 2006 12:02 am (UTC)
I've got a similar project in mind, in that it's much more of a edition of something than a scholarly something. Problem is, I can see it getting tons of use, and I'd like to get it done before someone else does ... but it's really pretty much the kind of thing a good secretary with Latin skilz could do ...

I've talked to a couple of senior people about it, and they think it's a worthwhile project, but ...

I need to talk to a couple of other folks.
owlfish
Feb. 21st, 2006 05:26 pm (UTC)
Editions are useful! They're crucial! They're necessary! Without them, it's mighty hard to work up the secondary literature which is our careers' life blood.
a_d_medievalist
Feb. 21st, 2006 07:19 pm (UTC)
You'd think! And this project is something that really might get some use. Oh well -- we'll see if I get a job, then I can worry about the pubs I need to keep it. If I stay at a community college, it's all gravy, as they say.
cliosfolly
Feb. 21st, 2006 12:46 am (UTC)
The status of editions is the same within lit departments, I understand; a professor of mine even warned us (me and a few other medievalists in a class with him) away from working on editions as dissertation topics partly because of how they're perceived and partly because there's apparently quite a waiting list to get them published in the typical outlets.
(Deleted comment)
cliosfolly
Feb. 21st, 2006 03:21 am (UTC)
It really is amazing how little understanding seems to exist about the work that goes into creating a scholarly edition; but I'm delighted to hear about your plans! I agree with you about the possibilities made availble by applying technology to the development of critical editions. I've worked on some of the PPEA editions of Piers Plowman, and it was amazing to see what one could do with, just for one example, the search tools.
oursin
Feb. 21st, 2006 08:37 am (UTC)
Have I ever told the sad story of my friend who was never informed that the rules changed while she was preparing an edition for her PhD and they only gave her an MPhil? (Supervisor's fault here, clearly.)
owlfish
Feb. 21st, 2006 05:25 pm (UTC)
How awful! The story sounds ever-so-vaguely familiar, so perhaps you posted about it many moons past; but I'd certainly forgotten it.
owlfish
Feb. 21st, 2006 11:23 am (UTC)
Editions are encouraged in Medieval Studies at Toronto, even as dissertation projects, but I don't know how much of that comes from the fact that it's a department which clearly sees how necessary they are to our field. Hopefully some of the Toronto crowd will respond with even more knowledge of CMS and its recent graduates than I have.
cliosfolly
Feb. 21st, 2006 02:02 pm (UTC)
Part of what was conveyed to me in the warn-off is that, in addition to the perception of editions as intellectually uninteresting, the difficult publication situation can be professionally damaging. I'm not very aware of how it works in other fields, but English has a fairly consistent five year expectation of dissertation-to-first-book, and apparently the slow publication situation (particularly with regard to the EETS, the primary outlet) can make that difficult.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )