Laura Kasson Fiss (HU) published a paper entitled “Pushing at the Boundaries of the Book: Humor, Mediation, and Distance in Carroll, Thackeray, and Stevenson” in The Lion and the Unicorn.
Alice pushes at the boundary of the book as she travels through the looking glass. John Tenniel’s twin illustrations of her journey in the first edition of Through the Looking Glass (1872) occur on either side of a single page (see Figs. 1 and 2). The mirrored orientation of the two images means that each pair of objects is printed back-to-back. Only Alice travels in one side and out the other, her head piercing the page. Her extended right hand presses on the surface of the looking glass, which ripples before giving way. That ripple on the surface of the page suggests that the page, like the looking glass, is a semipermeable membrane that the right reader can enter. Indeed, on the other side of the looking glass, Alice meets creatures out of storybooks, such as Humpty Dumpty and the Tweedles, whose stories she recalls. As readers follow Alice’s immersion, they too must place a hand upon the page—but the page turns precisely because they encounter solid resistance.
Alice’s journey through the page literalizes the metaphor of reading as immersive that has characterized descriptions of Victorian reading starting in the period itself. Yet calling attention to the mechanism of immersive reading paradoxically breaks the illusion. Nicholas Dames addresses this issue in the works of W. M. Thackeray and others by arguing that Victorians conceived of attentive reading not as a steady state but as cycling between intense involvement and contemplative reverie (82–83). This intriguing theory takes on additional ramifications when considered in relation to Victorian children’s literature, especially humorous material such as Carroll’s Alice books. The conceit of the child reader enables an additional level of play. Naturally, the cautionary notes sounded by Jacqueline Rose and James Kincaid about the problematic roles of child muses also apply to implied child readers, but so does Marah Gubar’s response that authors, aware of their own totalizing authority, created space for collaboration (Artful Dodgers, passim), in this case with and among child and adult readers. In addition to Carroll, two authors of humorous children’s texts who made their reputations by writing for adults, William Makepeace Thackeray and Robert Louis Stevenson, use humor and depictions of reading to represent both the immersive Wonderland of fiction and the material, mediated pleasures of getting there.
The Modern Language program is excited to kick off its bi-annual Film Series this semester on the theme “Alternate Realities.” The films selected for this semester are Africa Paradis, The Wall, and The German Doctor. All have English subtitles.
The first event is the French-language film Africa Paradis, which will screen this Thursday, February 12 at 7:00 pm in Walker 134. Africa Paradis turns our worldview on its head by imagining the Africa of the future as a world economic power, prosperous and united, while Europe has suffered a devastating political and economic crisis. When an unemployed French couple illegally enter the “United States of Africa” to find work, they encounter the politics of racism and tolerance.
There will be opportunities to learn more about our language programs and study abroad opportunities, as well as refreshments.
The event is free and open to the whole campus and the community. For more information, please email Dr. Ramon Fonkoué.
Twenty-first century research and scholarship is changing. At one time, researchers could only submit written manuscripts to academic journals. The journals would send copies of the text to experts in the field who would determine if the manuscripts were fit for publication (peer review). Nowadays, both the content of those manuscripts and the process for evaluating them is changing.
Cheryl Ball is a 2005 PhD alumna of MTU’s RTC graduate program, and she’s now an associate professor of digital publishing studies in the Department of English in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences at West Virginia University.
Ball has been rethinking the process for publishing multimedia-rich scholarship. Along with Andrew Morrison, professor of interdisciplinary design and director of the Centre for Design Research at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design in Norway, Ball is co-principal investigator for a project that that will build a digital tool that will allow experts in a variety of disciplines to review, critique and edit these 21st-century manuscripts.
To support these innovations the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded West Virginia University a $1 million grant, the University’s first Mellon grant. The three-year Mellon Foundation grant will support the development of Cairn, an online, free and open-source system that will help editors of scholarly multimedia journals, books and data sets engage in building and reading multimedia-rich, peer-reviewed content.
You can learn more about the Ball’s work and the grant here.
The William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) has announced its 2015 grant recipients. The grants support course/program reform or expansion projects using blended and online learning. A committee assembled by the Provost and the CTL Director selected this year’s grant recipients from among many proposals.
Lauren Bowen, Assistant Professor of Composition and Director of First-Year Composition in the Humanities Department, was awarded a $10,000-level grant for her Composition in Digital Elements Environments proposal.
Sean Fernstrum is a Michigan Tech Scientific & Technical Communications alumnus and the co-manager of R.W. Fernstrum & Company, a company that engineers cooling systems for the marine industry. He’s just been profiled and interviewed by Jack O’Connell of The Maritime Executive magazine. You can read the article here.