Rekindling The Oral Narrative

Hi, Everyone,

Words are like footprints, they lead you on a journey. Sometimes the journey is linear but more often than not there are the dreaded twists and turns. Journeys can be scary because they are often a step into uncharted territory, and coming back to college was like that for me.

I have always had an interest in stories, whether it be Grimm’s Fairy Tales (Revised), old Celtic tales, or the stories of peoples’ lives. Words have meanings and they weave the stories of our lives. Often stories have been heard from the perspectives of Kings and Queens but I like the stories of the ordinary man and woman. I have spent many years listening to other peoples’ stories, whether it be around a camp-fire, in a writer’s group, women’s group, or support group. My background is in community work and was centred on rehabilitative pedagogy. My last position was with Inishowen Women’s Outreach, an intimate spousal violence agency in Co. Donegal. I heard many stories, often dark and thorny, but some that danced with hope. However, I have parked that in a meadow, it is the distant past and I am now strolling towards different pastures. However, my rucksack is packed with stories. After my time in Carndonagh I went to NUI Maynooth, where I took a masters in Community Education, Equality and Social Activism. I have found memories there. In the hidden nooks and crannies of people’s lives we find creativity, and behind each face there’s a hidden inner landscape, and truth lies buried beneath the surface. I would like to use digital technologies to explore oral narrative. I am unsure if I want to focus on a particular group yet. One idea is to focus on the Wild Women of Cork. My path still has some boulders to overcome and that is mainly the tech stuff. My interest is knowledge which would not be considered academic because it would be tagged unfairly as mythic-rational.  I am looking forward to exploring it and looking forward to seeing what, if anything I discover.

Narrative Though Digital:

I have always been interested in collections; collections can be anything from photographs to diaries. Each collection tells a story – an untold true story or simply an interesting life story. I am big into autobiography particularly those who lived before my time. I enjoy looking at personal artistic journals as well because often they tell more about the person than they actually tell us themselves.

In the next few months, I will be studying how people created a narrative story and how it can apply in my own research on Nancy McCarthy’s Collection, which I am hoping to develop. I will be observing the ways people conserved the artifacts and how this was done prior to the digital period and up until now.

Studying stories will be a tricky one as “stories” are so broad and I am interested in gathering “real” sources and plan to create a narrative by using these digital artifacts and showing the collection online. I hope to go on and do research about the personal lifestyle e.g. socialite, traveler, chemist etc and try to understand her life journey if possible but my main interest is in the use of the “primary” source and in transforming them into a story.

On reflecting on this collection I am transported into a ‘magic circle’ as if I were transferred back to Nancy McCarthy’s time and it becomes present to me. I am hoping to create the same feeling though the digital experience. Digitisation is really important today due to the nature of the artifacts. These stories needed to be shared so this collection will be re-recorded forever and I hope people will continue to feel the same way as I do.

Caroline Bowen.

Exploring the new ways of sharing knowledge

Lorenzo_Valla_aport011Since the entrance of the humanities into the digital world, philology has been changing, and in my opinion the most significant shift involves scholars’ aims and ways of thinking.

In the past, choices had to be made as to whether to edit and publish a version of a manuscript, even an error-ridden one, based on one single version, or to try to produce the ‘best’ edition using many different versions, when either choice necessitated the inclusion of footnotes to accommodate the extra material. In the current technological age, digital tools allow us to move beyond these kinds of issues. One of the best examples of this concept is John Bryant’s fluid text edition of Herman Melville’s Typee. The aim is no longer, or not necessarily, to produce definitive, static, scholarly editions restricted by the  boundaries of print. Culture is becoming more democratic than ever, and scholars are sharing knowledge and ideas via many different platforms, allowing potentially every internet user to share in, and collaborate with these ideas. An example of this collaborative culture may be seen in the Transcribe Bentham project, promoted by UCL.

I come from a  background of philology and literary critique, and in the coming months I intend to explore how philologists can, and have already, placed themselves within this framework and study these new interactive and democratic ways of producing and sharing knowledge. Moreover, I propose to contribute by working on archival material and thinking about engaging ways to share my findings. The project I am interested in is the creation of a portrait of Tilly Fleischmann, who was a musician, teacher, and writer. She was born in Cork and studied piano in Munich with two students of Franz Liszt. Some information about her can be found here. I am fascinated by her character, as she is a figure who, in a certain sense, belongs to the “female genealogy” we need in the world of today– to use the terminology of the feminist scholar Luce Irigaray. You can follow how my research is progressing and where my readings are bringing me on my website, which bares the appropriate name of Wibbly wobbly literary stuff.

My interest in these new, digital ways of sharing knowledge prompted me to apply for an internship with the CELT project. Currently I am working on a brief report written by Lorenzo Magalotti regarding the journey he made to Ireland as entourage for Cosimo III de’ Medici in 1669. I am proof-reading the original version, from the Italian Renaissance, taking care of the XML markup, and translating and summarizing the introduction. These are simple tasks, but the work is pleasing and interesting, and above all, the idea of bringing a contribution in the sharing of culture, even if in a small part, satisfies me greatly.


2000, University College London-Gower Street- London- WC1E 6BT Tel: +4420 7679. “UCL Transcribe Bentham.” N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Jan. 2015.

Burke, Carolyn, Naomi Schor, and Margaret Whitford. Engaging with Irigaray: Feminist Philosophy and Modern European Thought. Columbia University Press, 1994. Print.

Fleischmann, Ruth. “TILLY FLEISCHMANN NÉE SWERTZ (1882-1967).” N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Aug. 2015.

Melville, Herman. “Herman Melville’s ‘Typee’ : A Fluid-Text Edition.” Text. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Jan. 2015.

Image source

de, Boissard, Jean-Jacques; Bry, Theodor. Lorenzo Valla, Humanist. N.p., [object HTMLTableCellElement]. Wikimedia Commons. Web. 8 Jan. 2015.