Thursday, March 09, 2006

I find that I have a love-hate relationship with this Wiki-text assignment. On the one hand, I like the idea of being involved in something new, something that is progressive and innovative. I like having the opportunity to experiment a bit, to be able to have input that could prove useful to other students. At the same time, I have experienced anxiety and frustration over the unique format of the project. My anxiety comes from making my comments public. Usually, only the professor or a peer reviewer sees what I write. In this arena, my comments are part of the academic community, out there for everyone to see. If I make a misstep, I can’t hide it. It is in the public record. My frustration comes in part from the technical difficulties I have had—not being able to edit my chapter and having my comments on the text show up as someone else (oddly enough, they showed up as the imposter, Perkin Warbeck). Frustration also comes from the difference in the text itself because I find myself getting lost in the screens, whereas I can tab, highlight, or remember a location on a page when I am reading a book that I can hold in my hands.

I think the public aspect of the book and the comments/annotations is uniquely suited to a text from the Victorian era. Women were looked at as one of two major types: the private person who stayed at home, kept herself pure and unspotted from the world and the public woman who allowed herself to be dirtied or corrupted by outside society. This latter type could be someone in the visible arena such as a writer; someone working in a lowly factory job; or someone in a less than “honorable” employment like prostitution. If the public is the less desirable choice, then it seems we are stepping out of favor with the Victorians (at least the females are). And yet, we see Shelley creating women who are “public” figures because of the nature of their birth and calling. So in that regard, I think Mary Shelley would approve of the task we are undertaking.

In the same vein, the innovative nature of the project is in keeping with Victorian times. They experienced anxiety over the changes they saw around them and worked at coming to terms with them. If they could do that, then I think I must attempt to emulate them.

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