Wednesday, November 28, 2007

So *this* is what being a professor is like

I've mentioned before that I'm editing a couple of texts for inclusion in an anthology of literature. And I've mentioned that I've had fun doing it over the course of the semester, and that I've even discovered things about the texts I hadn't noticed and that I can use in the classroom. So all in all it's been a good experience. This is also one of those tasks where all those years in graduate school and one's expertise in a particular area really matter, and where research and teaching are connected. I was asked to do this job because I've written a book on the texts I'm editing, and the anthology is a traditional, undergraduate-driven anthology of literature, so my expertise is being used in service of student learning. Unfortunately, at a lot of places editions don't get one as much credit as original scholarly work does under the "professional activity" column of merit and promotion; but at my school it counts for something at least. And it's also the first time I've ever been paid something other than my base salary for my work, so that definitely counts for something.

But that general sketch of what this project is for and what it gets me is not what my post title is about. No, what that title refers to is the part of the task I'm working on right now. I've finished the glossing and footnoting and I've finished writing and revising the introduction. Now I'm doing something that I should've done while I was working on other elements, but which somehow slipped my notice in the directions for formatting my submission. Since this is a late medieval text, it's being presented somewhat in its original language, but the editors of this anthology have asked for modernized spelling, punctuation, and capitalization, where possible -- in the mode of what we do to Shakespeare when he's edited for students. And so I have to mark all the words that I've changed from the original. I have to highlight them on the photocopy of my base text, the scholarly edition, and bold them in my copy.

So right now here's what I'm doing: I'm clicking on words and making them bold. One after another, through 600 lines of text. God, I'm so bored. Yup, this is why I spent 8 years getting a Ph.D.



Linda C. McCabe said...

Oh that sounds mind numbingly painful. I've done similar things like make sure I have the exact number of spaces between headings and have to go in and check manually through hundreds of pages.

Boring, but necessary.

I'm wondering if you might not be able to utilize the global replace function. Possibly do a Save As and keep your original work with the historical spellings and then have an edited modernized version to submit.

I think it would be faster than going line by line individually changing thous and ayes, etc. over and over again. Although in doing such massive changes you might not want to hit "change all" because depending on the word being altered you might wind up with syllables embedded in words being changed when it wasn't desired.

If nothing else, drink lots and lots of strong coffee to ward off sleepiness that comes with such monotonous chores.


Dr. Virago said...

I've already done the modernizing, and yes, I did exactly what you suggested -- used search and replace to change every "schall" to "shall," etc. But now I'm just bolding the changed words and for that I have to go through line by line to catch them all. It would have been *so* much easier if I'd remembered all the formatting directions *while* doing the editing, but dopey me, I did not. D'oh!

Sisyphus said...

This sounds like, to me, all those mind-numbing activities that seem horrible _until_ you are stuck or at your wit's end in some other writing project and you'd rather avoid it --- much like how mopping the floor suddenly seems fun when one is stuck in a chapter.

Anonymous said...

Er. It's too late for this to be helpful, and maybe you did as much of this as was practical already, but, if you're doing this in something like MS Word (and more power to you if not) next time some tinkering with search and replace ought to allow you to replace with your chosen replacement text in bold already, using the format options. You can even use this to replace any instance of a certain format with another one, it's quite powerful, but as Ms McCabe says, needs careful use.

I may be preaching to the choir and if so I apologise. But I could not say nothing and leave you to have this happen again some day if not.

Paul Gowder said...

Oh Gawd. How horrid. Can you just pay a responsible undergrad a hundred bucks or so to do it?