October marks the arrival of new student employees at the Modern Literature and Culture (MLC) Research Centre, which brings our research team to one postdoctoral fellow, ten graduate students, and six undergraduate students. Now in its sixth year, the MLC Research Centre provides high-level research training to students, recent graduates, and postdoctoral fellows in order to equip them with a wide range of analytic and technical skills valuable in their academic and professional careers.
Throughout the summer, the Centre was especially busy with a large research team of students at all stages, who acquired hands-on training in digital archiving, book preservation and classification, online database usage, transcription, image cataloguing, copyediting, and archive photography. Students work under the direct supervision of MLC Director Dr. Irene Gammel, who, with the support of MLC Coordinator Cait MacIntosh, provides ongoing guidance and feedback in the development of MLC projects. Students also engage in peer-to-peer training by facilitating workshops on newly acquired skills, dialoguing about intersecting research themes, and contributing to projects collectively.
Within this interactive setting, a number of Ryerson graduate students are supported by the MLC Research Centre in order to execute their own academic endeavors, including researching and writing their MRPs, MA theses, doctoral dissertations, and scholarly articles. International Research Fellow Dr. John Wrighton has been working on a collaborative scholarly article that applies ecocriticism to the Baroness Elsa's poetry. Doctoral student Emma Doran's dissertation examines three modernist dancers through the lens of the era's newspaper reviews.
Transcription of Manuscript
In a project spanning many months, a team of four student assistants transcribed an extensive collection of rare archival letters by an avant-garde poet, learning the principles of transcription, analysis, and the cataloguing of rare archival documents. The project leader was Literatures of Modernity student Karen Correia Da Silva, now a doctoral student at the University of British Columbia, who developed her skills within what she calls "a great working environment at the MLC Research Centre."
Cristina Naccarato, an MA student in the Literatures of Modernity Program, was introduced to the Centre through the many MLC events she attended and helped plan as an MA student. As part of her research practicum this summer, she digitized hundreds of rare World War I pictorials. "It was a pleasure working at the MLC," Cristina notes. "I couldn't have asked for a better practicum experience. I gained so much knowledge of archival methods, database management, and most importantly: collaboration." She is now applying these skills as a Masters of Library and Information Science student at the University of Western Ontario.
In order to improve the accessibility of its resources, the MLC has several digital database projects underway, including a digital library and digital image database. These projects provide students with the chance to hone their skills in cataloguing, scanning, editing, and using advanced computer programs such as FileMaker Pro and Adobe Bridge. Matt Rushworth, an MA student in the Photographic Preservation and Records Management Program, for example, enjoys working with World War I pictorials. "It's amazing to see how the WWI photographs were manipulated to look like paintings," he notes, and will continue to explore how such enhancements alter a reader's visual and textual interpretation of news.
The library database project involves the digital cataloguing of all original modernism print materials that belong to the MLC Library and Archives. Arts and Contemporary Studies student Heather Lenehan has been involved in the development of this project over the last year and a half. In addition to digital records management, Heather has gained valuable training in book preservation and Mylar application. As Heather notes: "When I joined the MLC as a first-year student, I was grateful for the opportunity to learn from seasoned academics, and from helpful Ryerson librarians who, through the Centre, ran training sessions for me." She adds: "I have learned and grown so much since my 2009 Summer Internship. The work has given me an increased sense of confidence in my own academic work." Heather is joined this month by Emily Burns, an MA student at Queen's University working on her MA thesis in Toronto; Emily holds an MA in Library and Information Science.
Jenny LeRoy, who started her PhD in English at CUNY this fall, describes the professional skills she gained at the MLC this summer: "I was able to participate in the preparation and facilitation of academic lectures and a peer-run symposium, events that introduced me to important landmark achievements in doctoral studies and helped me to anticipate personal and academic goals that lie ahead." These events bring together scholars from all over to discuss themes of modernity, and allow students to meet renowned academics and be exposed to new and exciting research.