The Comeback Kid: in which lessons are learned and a much needed update is provided

As per usual with things like this, I’ve learned a lot, and have nothing up to show for it. When the option is somewhat available to me – and even sometimes when it’s not – I have a tendency to work on things whenever the urge strikes me. That’s generally how things have been going so far with this work, which is a major reason why blog posts have seemingly disappeared. This was mostly because I felt embarrassed that I didn’t really have… ‘anything’ of substance to post about. I haven’t really made some ground-breaking discovery or major progress, at least that was how I’ve been feeling. It’s been a poor call on my part, and a failing to realize that my project is not the same as those who have done this fellowship before me. I’ve had to remind myself that I shouldn’t be worrying that I only have a 200 word post, as opposed the longer length that I arbitrarily decided was necessary. I got the idea in my head that every post I made on my blog had to be, for lack of a better word, sexy. It had to be alluring, enthralling, and check all the major boxes that make people want to look at what I’m writing about. This isn’t an unrealistic goal to have; in fact it is the basis of many guides on “how to write a successful blog.” The thing that I found easy to forget, however, is that I am not writing a mommy blog, or a cooking blog, or even a lifestyle blog – I’m writing an academic-based blog. The fact of the matter is that while academia can be sexy, it isn’t always appealing or even really that interesting to read about. Summation of lesson one: don’t quit your day job quite yet, because views aren’t the most important thing right now.

With that out of the way, it’s key to note that I have actually been doing things during my ‘disappearance’. I’ve read through The Temporality of the Landscape by Tim Ingold in order to better understand the angle at which I need to approach things when working with environmental history.1 I’ve taken a single class on environmental history, so it really is a new (to me) field to be working in. I tried to figure out how to access records of environmental surveys done of the campus space, before discovering that it’s really hard and can potentially be impossible to find depending on whom it was for and who did it. That one currently has a bookmark in it since I hit a bit of a dead end on my own. I have perused OpenData Ottawa, which was not overly helpful. I did pull a few maps from their database that I could see using, like the ones showing where all the bodies on water in the city are (including swamps.) I’ve done a few brief trawls through the main library using their online database, which has overall been unhelpful as it just picks up papers anyone from Carleton has written. I’ve explored the MADGIC library online and cursed Carleton’s website for having an uncanny tendency to change page locations and then not update the links for anything I seem to be looking for. Happily, this meant I finally had to pony up and make time to physically go to MADGIC, despite really having no idea what to tell them I was looking for. I got a reminder of a name mentioned during our roundtable and an email address to contact said person in order to get help pulling much more relevant resources to my project, which is really handy. In trying to help me, the librarian at the desk discovered the same issue of half the links on their site were dead, prompting her to ensure whoever was responsible for that to fix the broken links (which they did, huzzah!)

Plate from Atlas of a Campus

She also handed me something to “hold me over” which ended up being an amazing resource: Historical Atlas of a Campus, Carleton University. It was created for the 50th anniversary of Carleton, and is a collection of primary sources regarding the history of campus (unfortunately mainly architectural history, but there are still a lot of really helpful plates for my project in the collection.) I have a running list of plates that I need to photocopy, and my priority this week is finding a photocopier that is actually big enough to fit the plates. Finally, I’ve been keeping up with all my classes, which includes working on a project for the newly created Introduction to Digital Humanities course at Carleton.

1 Tim Ingold, “The Temporality of the Landscape,” World Archaeology 25, no. 2 (October 1, 1993): 152–174, doi:10.2307/124811.

In Summary: things are still trucking along at a reasonable pace in regards to my work, despite not quite keeping up on the blogging end of things.

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