I had the great pleasure of meeting Andrew Green today, at a meeting in the National Library of Wales. Andrew is its Head Librarian, and therefore of huge importance within the Library’s structure. The intent of the meeting was to explain to Andrew where we were in terms of our progress thus far, and to give him some insight into what our projects entailed.
Now, I’m generally quite the pessimist so I’m trying to hang on to the positives of the meeting (which were many, not least the opportunity to meet up with Lloyd Roderick, who’s working on an impressive project relating to the work of the artist Kyffin Williams, and Andrew Cusworth, who is developing something equally important with regard to mapping Welsh folk songs as a representation of cultural history – I forget sometimes, when reading in my corner of the library, how essential it is to engage with a group of your peers), but what struck me most forcibly during the meeting was the vast difference in styles between our respective academic departments, and how they feel their PhD students should approach their research.
Essentially, the English Department has taken a fairly traditional approach to my work, and this has meant I have spent a large majority of my first year reading through journal articles and authors in the field of digital humanities. The onus has very much been on me finding my feet, which has been of enormous help, but on attending the meeting today I realised that I had not engaged in any original thinking of my own. I’ve been so busy trying to immerse myself in the history of the digital humanities that I’ve yet to consider what I’m intending to do with the project beyond the perimeters set for me way back in October.
In terms of my research I suppose I am very much the traditionalist. Read around the field, see what the general trends are, decide which method of thinking most appeals to your own and see what develops from there. And that’s still fine, in terms of the theoretical approaches to my research, and most particularly in relation to the Chaucerian aspect of my writing, but I need now to reflect upon the more practical aspect of the project (a part I admit I knew would be more difficult for me).
Luckily, next month I finally start my placement at the Library, which means I can begin to engage in a real way with the many issues I have read about so far.