Returning to the Periodical Context
Periodicals have been on my mind quite a bit in the last few months. Not only have I continued to work withÂ NostromoÂ in both its serial and volume witnesses, but I also took a fantastic UVic English seminar taught by Dr. Lisa Surridge. During the seminar, we explored the relationship between text and image in Victorian literature. Quite often, we considered what Mark Turner calls the â€œperiodical contextâ€ of the texts, looking at the other articles, images, and even ads that ran alongside our primary texts of study.
Work for this course frequently took me away from the screen, away from markup and visualizations, and into the archives. I flipped through the un-digitized pages of theÂ Graphic, theÂ Illustrated London News, and theÂ Yellow Book, reading without a search function or the ability to run the text through an XSLT that spits out aggregate data (or capta) about the contents/contexts of the periodical. My hands were occasionally ink-stained, and my eyes watered in the semi-public setting ofÂ UVicâ€™s Special CollectionsÂ when I read the serial conclusion toÂ Tess of the Dâ€™Urbervilles.Â But what was most important for me was that I began to reconsider serial fiction in its material context. One of the questions the class explored was how the surrounding contents of the periodical affect a reading of the text being examined.
The work that I do withÂ NostromoÂ currently separates the serial text from its periodical context. Cedric Watts and Xavier Brice have already explored this avenue. Sites likeÂ Conrad FirstÂ even archive entire issues ofÂ T.P.â€™s WeeklyÂ in order to show the periodical context ofÂ Nostromo.Â My other ongoing assumption has been that considering the periodical context was separate from my work in versioning the text.Â After Dr. Surridgeâ€™s course, Iâ€™ve changed my mind. How can I affordÂ notÂ to consider the periodical context ofÂ Nostromo? How can the serialÂ NostromoÂ be re-envisioned as a text that does not simply lack what is present in the volume edition? How can the serial be re-envisioned as a text that contains what the volume edition cannot because of the periodical context in which the serial publication is necessarily embedded?
As Iâ€™m thinking about new directions for my research, in part by moving from the 1904 Harper volume edition to the more historically and contextually distant 1918 Dent volume edition, I also have to return toÂ T.P.â€™s Weekly. I have toÂ merge digital versioning practices with analogue periodical studiesÂ practices. Needless to say, I am looking forward to this merger of critical practice.
This post originally appeared atÂ http://maker.uvic.ca/periodical/.Â It was edited by Jentery Sayers, Karly Wilson, and the Maker Lab in the Humanities.
Katie Tanigawa is a Ph.D. student in English at the University of Victoria and Research Assistant with the Modernist Versions Project. Check out more of Katie's work at maker.uvic.ca