Editing Modernism in Canada


May 23, 2011

Paging P.K.

Since Spring 2010, through EMiC funding, I have been working with Bronwyn Scott, an SFU student in English on a preliminary sample of Page’s letters to be edited in collaboration with Dean Irvine. The Conference on Editing Texts at the University of Toronto in Fall 2010 was of great help in my own research as it brought me together with colleagues and students working on the Page project in other universities and reminded me of how extraordinarily helpful it is to share questions and problems with other researchers. Thank you, all! And thank you, too, Zailig Pollock and Dean Irvine for organizing this. Although I had developed a Page database for the purposes of writing P.K. Page’s biography, it is not immediately suitable for use in the Page Project and needed some revision before distribution: for one thing, we required permission from the various respondents for this new use, for another, the database is incomplete and requires updating and finally, some correspondence is restricted. In general, the process of developing a database for wider use includes the transcription of handwritten letters and the inputting of all correspondence into FileMaker, a useful system for sorting by date, person and topic. In working with the letters we encountered various problems: some letters require dating and annotation before they can be entered and some respondents are not identified and require further tracking. We also worked on the transcription of some archival notes for the purposes of establishing a general time frame for specific letters and for identifying people, topics or subjects. The purpose of this work was twofold: 1.) to set up a sample database, useful to other team members, 2.) to set up a document preliminary to establishing criteria for selection of significant Page letters. One of the continued surprises – and delights – of working with Page’s correspondence is her extraordinarily wide circle of friends and acquaintances and the astonishing variety of topics that emerge from her letters: from crop circles to fractals, from heartbeats to poetry rhythms, from the psychology of consciousness to her recognition of her own imminent death.

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