Editing Modernism in Canada


January 30, 2011

Detective Work

Working at EMiC compiling bibliographies and biographies is overall a process of discovery. I was assigned to work on Arthur Stringer, who most famously (and most pertinently to this project) wrote Open Water, where he experimented with free verse. My first thoughts? Somewhat foolishly: “this shouldn’t be that hard. I mean, I do bibliographies all the time for essays”. Needless to say, I was wrong, or at least just not right.

Writing up a bibliography and a biography for a somewhat well-known poet wasn’t hard like a trigonometry function or rocket science is hard (at least for most fellow English majors like me). Instead, it’s just hard work — and a lot of hours of detective work. Tracking down books to track down the books they mention, sifting through articles and words to try to find what is most pertinent or accurate. In fact, in my experiences of EMiC, and what I know of the experiences of others, I would say that EMiC loves detective work. Not merely “where do I start looking for Stringer sources?” but anything from “Which database work with our aims, and how do we find out what is best?” to “how am I going to get this scanner to do what I want?”.

That’s not to say EMiC is directionless and lost, far from it. This project has a solid foundation of answers and aspirations, and it knows what it wants – the important part is that its open about how to get there. A single way to do things is not good enough for Dr. Irvine and the rest of the group here. All options are explored in order to discover the best one, and so EMiC is always changing, adapting and making a better version of itself and its project. This is why questions like “Omeka or Islandora?” are not just problems for EMiC, but opportunities to get better. Likewise, I am always discovering more and am happy to do so. I may be moving on soon from writing  bibliographies and biographies to scanning, and recently sat in on a meeting where the technical side of EMiC I had never seen was brought out. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to more detective work and problems in the future.

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