One Man Band: Life of an Independent Scholar

June 20, 2012 at 6:56 pm (a day in the life, books, history, introduction, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Curious about what a project like this Smith & Gosling research entails?

Although I worked (as staff) in academia for nineteen years, being an “independent scholar” (ie, without academic affiliation) means you don’t have the “interaction” of colleagues. That I really miss — and that’s why I’m so grateful for the readers of Two Teens in the Time of Austen! If I can’t bend your ears, you at least allow me to bend your eyes. And it’s a two-way street – I value your comments and “likes” and dialogue.

So here’s my summary of Life as an Independent Scholar:

  • the location of diaries, letters, sketch books, portraits and miniatures, ephemera
  • a transcription of handwritten items
  • identification of people, places, and also the political, social, economic history of the era (approximately 1760-1845)
  • “getting the word out” through blog spots, journal, magazine and local history articles
  • finding obscure sources, including private collectors, for single items that once belonged to the Smiths, Goslings and friends/family
  • tracking down book citations
  • tracking down oblique references to family members in printed or manuscript sources
  • obtaining copies (xerox, digital photographs, microfilm) of relevant source material (thereby owing great debts to many blog readers)
  • corresponding with lots of libraries, record offices, and other depositories
  • TONS of internet searching
  • accepting the help of anyone who offers (see “obtaining copies”)
  • asking for help, when the distance is too great to make a personal visit (ditto)
  • spending precious hours/days/weeks at wonderful libraries and archives
  • typing-transcribing-writing-rewriting-proofing-searching-questioning-rewriting-proofing

No research assistants – No typists – No funding = A One-Man Band!

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JASNA AGM Revisited

December 17, 2011 at 11:40 am (jane austen, jasna, research) (, , , , , , , , )

Here, on a Sunny (!!) Saturday in northern Vermont, I am transported back to the “summery” October days of Fort Worth, Texas:

I remembered this morning that December 16th also brought the publication of Persuasions On-Line! Of course, much of its contents center on the 2011 AGM, which focused on the 200th anniversary of the publication of Austen’s first novel, Sense & Sensibility.

I’ve recently been asked, by the National Coalition of Independent Scholars, to write about my AGM experience; so how timely to also see some scholarship produced from the conference.

  • Juliet McMaster was a RIOT in person, and in P-Online you have her written presentation on duels. I love her book of diaries by Rosalie Hook, called Woman Behind the Painter: The Diaries of Rosalie, Mrs James Charles Hook. Don’t miss this, or Juliet’s AGM paper. Who else could have gotten Border officials to allow her to cross into the US from Canada with a sword!?!
  • Dear Peter Sabor once again writes about letters, a fascinating subject particularly dear to me. His was a very interesting talk, even if not accompanied with sword… or pen!
  • Jeffrey Nigro, who had a PowerPoint presentation, was one talk I attended that had catastrophic computer problems that ate up time — and jettisoned the talk at the point that I found it most interesting. Hurray for paper copies!
  • Kristen Miller Zohn was one paper I just HAD to attend: on Miniatures and Hairwork! I’ve still not followed-up on the contact she suggested for help in locating some Smith & Gosling items… But, can’t wait to read her paper. Pity: no miniatures in the flesh, though some excellent photography!

Of course the P-Online always includes a Miscellany section — so how interesting to see Laurie Kaplan‘s article on Teaching Jane Austen’s “London” Novels in situ. There will be more about London when I talk about a recent book arrival (thanks to Charlotte Frost): Walks Through Regency London, by Louise Allen. And Deb Barnum has provided two years’ worth of Austen Bibliography (2007 and 2010)

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National Coalition Independent Scholars awards grant

September 20, 2011 at 6:04 pm (jasna, news, research) (, , , , , , , )

Quick opportunity to say “Yipee” and “Thanks!” to NCIS for helping to fund my conference trip to the JASNA AGM in October.

One of the toughest things about being “independent” — besides sometimes feeling like ‘nobody cares’! — is that everything is out of pocket, and a very shallow pocket it is too at present… Microfilm, travel, primary documents. Published writing is often gratis. All outgoing and nothing incoming, therefore.

Trying to put one’s name and project out there sometimes entails doing something a bit different — like giving a paper on Jane Austen’s novel Sense and Sensibility. Although, in that case, I feel I have something to say about women in that era (c1811) because I’m studying the lives of women who come of age over the next decade.

So how wonderful to find that a grant I applied for was granted! Gives another reason to celebrate with JASNA friends, old and new, down in Fort Worth. The AGM (Annual General Meeting) attracts hundreds of Austen fans and academics – and I’ll be in the thick of things.

Information on The National Coalition of Independent Scholars can be found at the NCIS website. They’ve also a Facebook account. Deep thanks this week (and it’s only Tuesday!) to Charlotte Frost for her Fanny Seymour information; Mike H. at Tring Park School for his “wills” of Drummond and Joshua Smith; Alan from Warwickshire for a new Seymour letter; and NCIS for some very welcome funding.

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