Editing Modernism in Canada


October 15, 2012

An introduction to my (b)p-roject

I am very grateful to have received an EMiC MA stipend for the 2012-13 academic year and I wanted to take this opportunity to share my plans for my project.

I previously discovered Canadian poet bpNichol when I created a mini-critical print edition of six of his poems for Dean Irvine’s Editing Canadian Modernism class. In part, I used this edition to explore the ways in which editing theory can be applied to texts that are as non-conforming, non-codex-based, and continually evolving as Nichol’s. I will continue down this avenue for my Masters thesis, which I hope to connect to a three-part digital editing project:

Firstly, I would like to create a digital mini critical edition of bp’s works that represent Dada aesthetics or have been influenced by Dadaist thought. The edition will be fairly small (perhaps only a dozen texts), but I hope that a narrower focus will allow me to draw clear connections to Dadaist theory, writings, and art. I will be exploring such bp pieces as “Dada Lama” (bp’s homage to Hugo Ball) and “Eyes,” and possibly some of the sound poetry that bp created with The Four Horsemen. My goal is to make the edition available online as an electronic text.

Secondly, I am interested in exploring genetic criticism by comparing the three editions of Konfessions of an Elizabethan Fan Dancer (1967, ’69, and ’73). My previous edition of six poems focused on the various versions of each text. I am interested in applying this type of genetic study to an entire Nichol work, maybe even comparing individual poems within Konfessions to later reprints. I am eager to see how versioning software can make these comparisons possible in a digital medium.

One of my favourite bpNichol works is Still Water. For my third project I would love to reintroduce this work to today’s readers in a digital format so that it is more accessible. My main goal with a digital format is to create an interface where the images (one image for each card in the Still Water box) can be randomized by the user/reader. This interface would allow countless (maybe endless?) combinations of the individual visual poems, creating a multitude of ways in which the complete work could be read and interpreted. If possible, I would also like users/readers to be able to arrange the images as they please. I am very keen to preserve bp’s ideas of communication with the reader—allowing the reader to become editor of the work and interact with a text in an out-of-book format.

Ellie Nichol has graciously given me permission to reproduce bp’s works online. I have also spoken to Lori Emerson about potentially integrating my projects into bpnichol.ca (An Online Archive for bpNichol). I also plan to ingest my scanned material into the Modernist Commons to encourage future projects based on bp’s works.

Most of all, the project is a lot of fun. It’s great to study a writer/artist/(“communications researcher” in bp’s words) who always brings a smile to your face. Stay tuned—updates to follow!

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