Editing Modernism in Canada


Author Archive

October 2, 2010

Intern year-end wrap

The funny thing about about this program is that no matter how many times I mentioned to people that I was working for EMiC, they never quite remembered what it was all about, or what I was talking about. What’s doubly funny is that I didn’t even really know what I was doing until I took the EMiC class offered in summer school- a class offered through the English department, taught by Dean on Editorial Theory.  I had taken one short course with another Emic Project coordinator two years previously, and was really into the material. But it was hazy in my memory, and none of my courses from that point onward covered Modernist literature, Canadian or otherwise. I never read Virginia Woolf in University, that’s kind of a bummer.

Of course I could have acquired an overview of Candian Modernist work independently, but this seemed daunting, and I also didn’t want to admit to my bosses that I hadn’t read enough Livesay to feel like a decent human being, and also never finished Under the Volcano in Vanessa’s class. Bart, another Emic-er assures me he also didn’t get through this brick of Lowry but it didn’t quite soothe me the way it was intended seeing as Bart can barely finish a softball game (without tearing his groin.)

But I digress. Luckily, beginning the project I was assigned to work with Vanessa on Elizabeth Smart. I had in fact scarfed down By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept. I had also researched her life for a presentation and found her to be so cosmopolitan, so beautiful, so fiery, and so interesting.

Essentially my position was to scan Smart’s work into a computer. Vanessa taught me how to do this in a huge scanner in a small room in the library. After this was done I cropped, resized and collated the books into a pdf file of the whole book. I listened to the radio or sometimes knitted while I waited for pages to scan. I hit a new level in the scanning room when I started listening to podcasts of contemporary fiction. But I was pretty bored generally and didn’t think to do anything about it, as is the ignorance of the undergraduate.

This was my part time job between September and April-ish of 2009 and 2010.

Things changed that summer when I started Dean’s course. It’s difficult to articulate this but I finally understood the project I had been working under for eight months. In this class we read work about the socialization of texts, genetic criticism, problems in editing, the fluid text, electronic textual editing, etc. etc. I fully started to realize how important EMiC’s work was. The project became so full inside my head, the details expanded and became richer, and my enthusiasm for all of it skyrocketed.

On one of the last days of class Dean spoke about his thrill in his work, and told the class we should be careful to only spend so much time in what we were personally invested in. I was not personally invested in scanning books. But I now feel so personally invested in the importance of digitizing, editing, and spreading work that has been underappreciated or burned to bits by Elizabeth Smart’s mom. As a member of the publishing industry, the thought that certain sects of literature could die and vanish terrifies me. It was a privilege to work for a person and a project that is not too lazy to just listen to the radio instead of doing something about it.

I really feel the EMiC course should somehow be a pre-requisite for working for the project. I felt like I attended a convent (three week summer school intensive) and came out converted into a true EMiC-ite.