what i write & where i’m going

I’ve decided to try to cut back on the blogging for the rest of the summer, limiting myself to no more than one entry a week. I need to finish up some writing of a different sort before classes kick back in this fall. Specifically, as I mentioned on my task list:

  • A book proposal.
  • An article on eighteenth-century Methodist periodicals.
  • An article on eighteenth-century Methodist preaching nope, I’m going to focus on my article on eighteenth-century Methodist reading habits
  • an article on authorship attribution concerning a particular preacher’s sermons. Well, this one I’m going to get started, at least.
  • Revising a few grant applications for resubmission and mapping out grant deadlines. This i can surely get done.

Here’s the thing: I am untenured, and the path to tenure is lined with publications. I go up for tenure in 3 years (yikes!). Blogging is very rewarding to me, and I do not intend to give it up. The contacts I’ve made and maintained through this medium are wonderful. But I do need to consider how many words I put out there into the blogosphere versus how many I am putting down on the page leading toward scholarly publication (and thus an ongoing academic career).

One thing I’m going to try to do to get the most out of my writing is to blog what I’m working on. My book project is a significant expansion of my dissertation; my focus is on Methodist communication networks in eighteenth-century Britain, a time and place of new technologies and habits of communication triggering significant cultural change. This is a topic that has particular relevance now as we find ourselves in what is often termed the “late age of print,” electronic communication technologies triggering another series of significant cultural change. More details as my writing progresses this summer.

Next Sunday I leave for a month in Europe. I’ll be mostly in the Methodist Archives and Research Centre (MARC) in Manchester, but also at the British Library in London. Additionally, I’ll spend five days in France at the 2004 meeting of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing.

In Manchester, I plan to continue work I started last summer, reading the diaries, letters, and administrative records of preachers and lay people. Conversing, preaching, listening, reading, writing, publishing, exchanging books, recommending books, selling books, giving books away. Combing through personal papers looking for references to these very basic, but very important, activities is a slow and painstaking process, but it’s also very rewarding. I found some remarkable evidence last year, and I am confident that more remains to be uncovered.

At the British Library, I’ll be examining The Gospel Magazine, one of the periodicals that inspired John Wesley to begin publishing his competing project The Arminian Magazine. As you can see from this entry in the English Short Title Catalogue, the British Library is the only place in the world with a complete run of this publication. I am particularly interested in The Gospel Magazine because it was edited by Wesley antagonist Augustus Toplady, about whom I wrote last summer. To be able to make the most of my time in London, I spent today reading volume one (1774) of TGM at KU’s Spencer Research Library, which has a world-class collection of rare eighteenth-century British materials and is only a forty-minute drive from my apartment.

Last year, I paid a very reasonable 40 pounds a night to stay at a bed and breakfast in Manchester (At least I think I did. The site lists a lower rate right now.). This year, I’ll be staying in university accommodations for an incredibly affordable 75 pounds a week, and I believe the walk from my room to the library will take me all of about 5 minutes.

As I was last year, I’m nervous about travelling. But this year I know my ATM card will work, I have a brand new credit card, I know where my passport is, I know my plug adaptors will fit the plugs, I know how to get from the airport to where I’m going, and most importantly, I know my way around the collection at the MARC. Once I get to London, I know two or three people there already, so I’m less nervous about that aspect of the trip. As for France, well it’s been a very long time since I’ve been there, but back when we lived in Belgium, we went to Paris all the time, so I guess I’ll find my way.

This will be my longest trip to Europe since (pre-EU) 1988, when I went home to visit my parents and stayed pretty much the whole summer. Heck, I’ve never even seen a Euro.

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2 thoughts on “what i write & where i’m going

  1. You know, I just passed up on a month-long trip to London in July to work on my own little periodical at the BL. My grant’s good for two years, though. Next year is a lock. Anyway. That’s a pretty ambitious to-do list.
    I’ve got one that looks just like it.

  2. Hope you have a great trip, George! I’m jealous of your whole month there…my recent one week in Denmark was far too short.
    Can’t wait to hear about the SHARP conference and Lyon.

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