Friday, January 27, 2006

flanagan and bremmer to enroll in research methods 101

I thought it was one of Sepoy's much appreciated non sequiturs, but then I realized . . . it's not a non sequitur, it's about all about BIBLIOGRAPHY, again.

Sepoy left a link to the CJR record of an ongoing discussion between Travers' biographer Valerie Lawson and New Yorker editorial staff under the comments to my post on the Brandenn Bremmer story. Essentially, as the Columbia Journalism Review sums it up,

"In the current New Yorker is a letter to the editor from Valerie Lawson, in response to Caitlin Flanagan’s December 19 article on Pamela Travers, the creator of Mary Poppins. Lawson is the author of a biography of Travers, and her letter reads like a relatively benign effort to make clear the decades-long effort by Poppins scholars to tease out Travers’s elusive life story. It did not begin that way, as this lengthy — and not so benign — e-mail thread between Lawson and editors at The New Yorker shows. The exchange offers a glimpse at the sausage-factory aspect of how the magazine handles complaints, and raises interesting questions about what journalists owe, in terms of recognition, to their sources."


Flanagan isn't required to show us, or Lawson, or anyone but the quite protective NYer staff anything like a bibliography because this is popular journalism. Blogging is even less responsible, and this blog especially so (Chocolate Lady, however, is very good about citing things, which is interesting because cookbooks are a very touchy sort of publication issue). But if Flanagan did the research herself, or relied heavily upon Lawson's work, or the work of other scholars, we'll never know. My bets are that Flanagan was sloppy and took certain facts for granted as public knowledge that aren't widely published . . . I mean, Flanagan's idea of research is to refer to herself and her experiences and maybe those of her friends . . .

I'm quite paranoid about this issue because my dissertation relies on both popular biographies (written with archival research but without footnotes) and archival research in the same archives and a lot of messy stuff that I hope I'm responsible about.

Does it say how the CJR got copies of this correspondence?

On the other hand, when it suits me, I'm not a big believer in intellectual property rights. Especially when it comes to visual materials. I use uncredited google images all the time to illustrate intro film lectures . . . But maybe that's just like shoplifting from the mall?

Still, I got really upset when a fellow grad student had me explain something to her and then she explained it to the class during our seminar presentation, without acknowledging that I'd sketched it out for her . . .

And I've got that nominal copyright button on this blog. Obviously, when someone is taking advantage of labor done by someone else, I guess I'm a little uncomfortable with that. Oddly, it is rather like housework (or recipes). Intellectual labor could be imagined as non-economic (any labor could, but academic labor and housework more often are), but as long as we are working within capitalism you'd better pay somebody something (even if its just respect, or give them "credit") because that's how we value labor . . .

On on yet another hand, I think that even in an economy that uses scarcity to produce value, libraries and publishers and even authors usually benefit from the illicit proliferation of information and materials to which they have sole possession. With or without explicit mention of the title of her work, Lawson will probably get more readers as a result of the publicity afforded by Flanagan's piece.

So, how do we feel about my taking a photo of this image, by Frank T. Merrill, from Little Women? And posting it here?

Categories: , , , ,


Blogger sepoy said...

we feel fine.
viva la revolución!

9:36 PM  
Blogger zp said...

and you a historian!

4:31 PM  
Blogger the chocolate lady said...

What's that thing on her head?

11:42 AM  
Blogger zp said...

fine. be mysterious about the czar. but i will be more than forthcoming on the jo march's attire.

"Her 'scribbling suit' consisted of a black woolen pinafore on which she could wipe her pen at will, and a cap of the same material, adorned with a cheerful red bow, into which she bundled her hair when the decks were cleared for action." [short answer]

[long answer] "This cap was a beacon to the inquiring eyes of her family, who during these periods kept their distance, merely popping in their heads semi-occasionally, to ask, with interest, 'Does genius burn, Jo?' They did not always venture even to ask this question, but took an observation of the cap, and judged accordingly. If this expressive article of dress whas drawn low upon the forehead, it was a sign that hard work was going on; in exciting moments it was pushed rakishly askew; when despair seized the author it was plucked wholly off, and cast upon the floor. At such times the intruder silently withdrew; and not until the red bow was seen gayly erect upon the gifted brow, did anyone dare address Jo."

11:02 AM  
Blogger the chocolate lady said...

Thanks! Will elaborate on the czar soon. In the meantime, one of the links will take you to an English translation of a song about how the Czar drinks tea.

1:08 AM  

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