Editing Modernism in Canada


July 30, 2014

“The Text Has Shattered”: The 2014 TEMiC Conference

For me, TEMiC 2014 was a week of “firsts”: I finally got to visit UBCO’s gorgeous campus; I was introduced to several new and valuable digital tools, including PennSound, the Modernist Commons, and the WayBack Machine; and I made a successful silkscreen print with Briar Craig during his Monday workshop, even if my wildly unsteady hand caused him to question my sobriety. At the same time, it was a week of “lasts,” if I am correctly recalling something that Dean Irvine said during Monday’s seminar: “After this week, you’ll never look at a text in the same way again.”

I will admit that Monday morning initially caused me some anxiety; there I was, preparing to give a presentation regarding John Bryant’s “Pleasures of the Fluid Text” in front of a room composed primarily of people who had considerably more experience with academia than I. However, my anxiety quickly gave way to ease and excitement, as I realized I was surrounded by a warm and welcoming community of people ready to share their genuine passions for literature and textual editing. This, I thought, is going to be an incredible week.

My suspicions were confirmed as the days went on, and I found the morning seminars to be one of the most enjoyable parts of TEMiC. Armed with a solid framework of theoretical scholarship and a questionable diet of Tim Horton’s pastries, each participant’s engaging presentation provided an excellent springboard into conversations that continued long into the afternoon. It was refreshing to see a mixture of theory and praxis at work, and projects like Nick’s WatsonWalk and Lee’s Spoken Web archive helped demonstrate examples in which literary studies can manifest in practical, enjoyable, and accessible ways. Whether discussing indigenous oral traditions, digital and audio recording, or simply the anagrammatic possibilities of TISH magazine, everyone’s unique projects and personal experiences helped propel each others’ understanding of textual studies to places we never thought possible.

Following each day’s delicious lunch in the atrium, we had the absolute pleasure of meeting a total of five guest presenters who furthered our discussions on textual editing and digital humanities. From Paul Seesequasis’s discussion of Aboriginal knowledges and textual representation to Miriam Nichols’s complex transcription of the “Astonishment Tapes”, it was once again useful to bring together various experiences and apply these examples to build upon our morning conversations.

I suppose I will conclude by recalling a word which was continually emphasized throughout the week: collaboration. One of the most vital aspects of TEMiC for any participant is the opportunity to meet with other students, faculty, and individuals from around the country with varying academic backgrounds and personal interests. During our very short time together in Kelowna, I witnessed countless examples of people sharing ideas that helped broaden everyone’s intellectual scope and make connections that will remain as lasting friendships.

As our plane took off and I headed back towards the distant shores of the Maritimes to resume my work on Canada and the Spanish Civil War, I felt changed by my time at UBCO. Maybe it was the scorching sunlight and over-consumption of breakfast sandwiches finally taking their toll; but more likely it was the comforting discovery that the post-undergraduate experience is less intimidating and terrifying than my mind sometimes envisions. I find it can be easy to compare oneself to others and stress about your own abilities or that one project you’ve been putting off; but at the end of the day, having sushi and a pint in the company of great people can be just as enlightening and fulfilling as an hour spent reading or plugging paragraphs into a Word document. If the 1963 Poetry Conference taught me anything, it’s that great ideas and pedagogy don’t come from a single mind, but from a group of them working together towards a common goal.

By Daniel Marcotte

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