The holidays were restful, and we’re still in a bit of a lull here at Berkeley–the students don’t come back until the 16th. This leaves us some time for catching up on the many, many things left undone at the end of the fall.
I’ve spent some time this week reading for the paper I’m writing for the Townsend Fellowship program. I’m looking at how writers, teachers, and scholars of literature have responded to technological changes in writing and publishing over time. This comes out of my prior experience as a literature librarian at the University of Oregon, where I noticed that literature faculty seemed to shy away from anything computer-related. It’s interesting to me that physicists, who historically have no particular relation to the study of printing or publication, have adopted electronic publishing so readily (arxiv.org is a key publication and communication tool for physicists), while literature scholars, who have an obvious vested interest in means of publication, are still struggling with the paradigm shift.
Anyway, it’s been a pleasure to spend time in the stacks, reading about Virginia Woolf obsessively sorting fonts and Mark Twain swearing at his typewriter. Every age has its baffling, complicated, occasionally maddening new technology.