Sunday, June 29, 2008

At some point the summer will start...

Ah, the lazy academic summer, when professors loll in hammocks, reading and dozing... what is that coming, exactly?

It has been a very busy month of June, but, finally, a few things are managing to get finished.

On the technical side, I was able to revise and cut down "Survival of the Most Pleasing: A Meme-Based Approach to Aesthetic Selection," which will serve in part as the kernel of the paper I'm giving in Bergen, Norway, in November.

And, we've had pretty exciting results on our NEH startup grant project, "Pattern Recognition through Computational Stylistics: Old English and Beyond.". Soon I will post a link to the project website. The exciting results I'll need to keep under my hat for a while, until abstracts are finished, etc. The best part about the project has been learning the system that the genomics group came up with. The way meetings and the exchange of ideas work has been really illuminating. I've set up and run research groups before, but they've never worked this well.

On the more popular side of things, I was in NY last week and recorded another college course on CD for Recorded Books' Modern Scholar series. This one is A Way with Words IV: Poetry. It was great fun to record, though also a bit of a challenge, since I haven't taught, say, Pope, or Wallace Stevens, or Elizabeth Barrett Browning since, well, never. I ended up mixing in formal aspects of the poetry with a historical approach (so I started meters with Chaucer, did heroic couplets with Pope, free verse with Whitman, etc.). Here's the historical part of the outline, in case you are interested:

1 What is poetry
2 The Roots in Oral Tradition
3 Anglo-Saxon (alliteration)
4 Middle English (meters)
5Renaissance (more meters)
6 Late Renaissance
7 Eighteenth Century
8 Early Romantics (Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge)
9 Later Romantics (Byron, Shelley and Keats)
10 Victorians (Browning, Rosetti, Tennyson)
11 America – Whitman and Dickinson
12 Modernism (early and high modernism)
13 Later Modernism
14 Poetry Now

Of course I have to write the book part of the course by the end of the week (I have all the lecture notes, but it is still writing up a 100+ page book by Friday), and then the Elves review and the Maxims piece have to be done. Oh, and the abstracts for the first two papers coming out of the computer research. But there is finally a tiny chink of light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe I'll get to go fishing once before the semester starts up again.

1 comment:

Gundam John said...

Hi Mike,
Congratulations on becoming the Chair of the English department!

But I find that I'm not terribly surprised, I can think of no better person for the position.

You former student,
John Walsh