A Brief Discussion of Brief Discussions of Brief…

Well, my friends, the end is nigh; no, not Harold Camping’s prophesied apocalypse, but the end of this MA course (the taught portion at least), and therefore the end of this ramshackle account of same! Our journey draws near to its final terminus, but before we leap off and try to outrun the conductor, there’s some business to be about.

A Bite of Nashe Gnash Nashe

On the 8th of March, one month hence, I had the pleasure of attending a talk by one Professor Jennifer Richards of Newcastle University, who paid us a visit to tell us about the Thomas Nashe Project, a multi-university scholarly editing project that seeks to update and unify the complete works of the eponymous 16th-century satirist, raconteur, and pamphlet-fiend.

In particular, Professor Richards spoke of the difficulties of editing, both then and now. Then, the printing process was relatively new; much could go wrong, and often did unless the author was present in the printmaker’s to personally clear up any little points of confusion. Nashe in particular, with his keen awareness of the printed page and stylish sense of wry humour, was prone to including deliberately barbed errors that a harried typesetter, acting as a human autocorrect, would catch and spoil in his no doubt well-meaning way.

Now, there’s the modern difficulty of such an editing job to consider; the Old Guard, the academics who bristle and circle the wagons at the suggestion that their favoured editions of classics, their McKerrow or their Gaskell, might benefit from the addition of a new Nashe compendium. A very natural instinct, yes, but also an immature one. After all, the works of academics dead and gone are still of great use and beauty; even when the premises they worked are considered long-outdated, they still provide a useful snapshot of scholarly thought around their subject in a given era. Why should the 21st century not also produce its editions, to be admired, defended, sneered at, or worst of all, forgotten, by later generations? You’re never truly dead until the last time somebody uses your name to browbeat a colleague!

Facetiousness aside, the granularity of Professor Richards’s work here is fascinating, but very distant from my chosen area of study. I admire it, even as I somewhat sheepishly confess that whether a man four hundred years in the grave meant for a colon to be a semicolon ignites no sparks in my literary heart. But it’s always a pleasure to hear an intelligent, educated expert discuss their passions, and I’m glad I was able to attend.

Post-Text Post

Two days ago, the Textualities ’23 conference took place, and now I must reflect on it! So, what shall I say?

Well, I was on the blog team! Like all things in this imperfect world, that had its ups and downs; the biggest down was that having to maintain a separate blog left me less time to work on this one. But the up, which outweighed it, was that it gave me an excuse to interview and get to know my classmates! We’ve been a bit isolated in our OMR trio all year, so finally putting some names and interests to the faces was an enjoyable exercise.

As for the day itself, I think it all went off reasonably well. There were no obvious disasters in anyone’s presentations, not even mine! It was wonderful to see some of the speakers who had struggled with nerves come off beautifully, as we all knew they would.

As a format, squeezing sixteen talks into a single day made for an eclectic atmosphere. It was an enjoyable experience, but six-minute Pecha Kucha slideshows just don’t go as deep as even a short essay would allow. The social element predominates, peers engage and network, etc. Of course, we all already knew one another, more or less!

The idea of giving this talk to an audience of fellow students and friendly academics never occasioned nerves in me in the first place, so I’m unfortunately unable to include a rousing bit about overcoming my anxieties through personal growth here! Please imagine something equally inspiring in its place.

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