Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Random Collection of Links and Comments

No, I haven't forgotten to finish off the riff on "Language Games." I'll be getting back to that sometime soon, and it connects well with my new dissertation focus. Briefly looking back at what I've written so far, I was being much too meek at the end. The whole noetic shift that took place with the advent of literacy in ancient Greece is commonplace in orality-literacy studies and media ecology (see, for instance, Havelock). As I said, I'll get back to that soon.

I'm getting into the shift of the dissertation topic. I took back a bunch of library books on things like style in Old English poetry, the Anglo Saxon Chronicle, and the Old English Orosius (the Old English translation of Paulus Orosius' Historia adversum paganos -- as with much Old English prose translation here, of course, means both additions to and omissions of the Latin text. The travel accounts of both Ohthere and Wulfstan, standard pieces in Old English readers, are examples of such additions to Orosius' Historia), and I picked up a number of books on the commonplaces and commonplace books to jump back into Memory and the Art of Database, which is now a dissertation chapter rather than a post-dissertation project. Library books I've kept include such titles as Life of the Mind in Old English Poetry, The Origins of Drama in Scandinavia, and Interactions of Thought and Language in Old English Literature, and Rhetoric and Poetics in Antiquity. I've also shifted some books to or from dissertation shelves or to my desk. Books moved to dissertation spaces include Talking, Sketching, Moving: Multiple Literacies in the Teaching of Writing and Embodied Literacies: Imageword and a Poetics of Teaching. Fun, fun, fun.

While I've thought about oral-formulaic practice as a pre-digital database technology/practice, the idea hit me in a different way today. Until today, it's been something I've just filed away to think about at some other time. Today, however, I started thinking about the implications as a compositional technology and as a way of knowing and representing ideas. No, I'm not thinking about trying to revive oral-formulaic practices. Rather, I'm trying to think about the practice not as a literary scholar or a media ecologist but as a compositionist and to think of it in relation to a whole host of pre- and post-digital database technologies and practices and how those insights can help theorize new practices and perspectives.

Bradley has an excellent post on how he used to manage the readings for one of his courses last semester.

Ain't It Cool News has, according to Neil Gaiman, one of the best, most accurate reports of the upcoming Zemeckis/Avery/Gaiman Beowulf set to come out in 2007 (a few spoilers in the report, supposedly, though I don't think anything was spoiled by reading it). Much of the media reports about the movie are less than accurate. My favorite so far is the report that Anthony Hopkins did his performance naked because, when asked about his costume, he told then he didn't have one. He wasn't wearing a costume, of course, because the movie is being done with performance capture technology (according to various sources, Zemeckis has solved the eye issue that plagued The Polar Express). Rather than being naked, Hopkins was dressed up in a suit much like the one we see Angelina Jolie wearing. (Jolie plays Grendel's mother.)

Also Gaiman related, if you missed Mirrormask, which had a very limited release, it's now out on DVD. Rent it. Buy it. You'll be glad you did. You can see two reviews at and

And finally, if you didn't know (maybe I'm the only one who didn't?), Cheryl Ball has been blogging for a while.


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