This fall, I have a sabbatical–while I’m very much looking forward to getting back into research, and especially to learning more about TEI and XML, it occurs to me that I have a tendency to be more productive the more things I have going on in my life, and so the prospect of a sabbatical is a bit daunting, nonetheless. If I can write about my progress here, hopefully that will keep me on track and away from the many home improvement and creative projects I’ve been spending so much time on recently!
So, what will I be (am I) working on? First, I’ve been thinking more about how to merge my DH interests and my 18th century interests, and I hope to reignite my syllabi by incorporating more of both–I plan to post on those syllabus ideas soon. Project the Second: I’m drafting an NEH Challenge grant to bring a humanities collaboratory to Marymount–since I’ve been at MU, the IMC (which became the eLS) has been disassembled and decentralized, and we have no physical space outside of general wireless access and traditional computer labs where students and faculty can collaborate on digital endeavors. Third: also on my agenda are a few projects in memoriam–in honor of a friend who recently passed away unexpectedly, I want to spend some time this year putting a working model together for a curated collection of critically-marked-up primary sources for the study of the 18th century novel–the Novel in Context. While other friends have indicated that RDF and SPRQL are the waves of the future, I don’t want to drown in new skills, so I’m going the way of eXist-db; I will post more on that project, too, as it moves forward. The recent death of several family members–which, in addition to my administrative load, has rendered me virtually radio-silent–has led me to a new research topic on corpse humor in late 17th- and early 18th-century drama–Project the Fourth. There, my basic goal is to show how and where a surprising number of plays draw on and actively implement the material discourses of death, while suggesting its cultural significance. In my research, I’ve learned about streeking and trouncing, the real threat of live burial, the rise of the modern medical profession and the dearth of anatomical subjects, the commodification of the corpse, and the various rituals during the waking that include ventriloquism and corpse puppetry. That sounds like much more fun at funerals than I’ve had these past three years.