SCHOLAR'S NOTEBOOK - March 2012

 

 

THE ELECTRONIC ENVIRONMENT FOR RESEARCH AND PUBLISHING

 Dr. Stanley Chodorow

Saturday, March 17, 2012

1:30 p.m.

Room 111-A Chancellor’s Complex, UCSD Campus

 

Dr. Stanley Chodorow will talk about e-resources and e-publishing, and the transition from print to electronic research and publication. The capacity of the electronic environment is great, but the challenges are also great. One can imagine "live scholarship," with the exchange of ideas occurring at a rate no one could have imagined 25 years ago. One can also imagine scholarship getting lost in the vast uncharted regions of the Web. How will peer review work? Is there a role for librarians? Do we need gatekeepers for our scholarly collections?

Dr. Chodorow is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of California, San Diego, where he continues to teach courses. He joined the UCSD faculty in 1968. He served as Associate Vice Chancellor and Dean of Arts and Humanities from 1983 to 1994. He was Provost of the University of Pennsylvania from 1994 to 1997. After returning to California in 1998, he was the founding Chief Executive Officer of the California Virtual University, a consortium of accredited colleges and universities in California that offer distance learning programs.

Dr. Chodorow is the past chair of the Board of Directors of the Council on Library and Information Resources in Washington, D.C. and of the Board of the Center for Research Libraries in Chicago. He received his B.A. (1964) and Ph.D. (1968) from Cornell University. He also studied law as a postgraduate fellow at the Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California, Berkeley. He is a medieval historian specializing in the history of the western legal systems, constitutional ideas and institutions, and political thought. He serves on the board of the Stephan Kuttner Institute of Medieval Canon Law (Munich).

 

 

From the President

 

Last month I presented the initial report of a study about SDIS and its members’ self-reported interests as they appeared in the 2011-2 SDIS Directory. Last month it was easy to arrive at the general broad-brush conclusion that the interests of SDIS members are quite eclectic. The information in the Directory was evaluated in a way which strongly suggested a few areas of concentration; however, this may in part have been an artifact of the way the data were organized. These areas, each taken in its broadest sense, were: (1) culture, (2) history, (3) psychology and biology including neuroscience, (4) literature, (5) natural sciences and mathematics, (6) artistic topics and expressions, (7) symbols including language, and (8) religion and miscellaneous topics in the humanities. The breadth of interest was expected but I found the sheer variety of self-reported members’ interests quite remarkable.

 

Much more can be derived from the information in the 2011-2 Directory but a treasure trove of additional information was handed to me by Gerry Horwitz a short while ago which broadens significantly what can be done. I now have in front of me a complete set of annual SDIS Directories starting with 1994-5 which Gerry recalls may be the year of the first formal SDIS Directory (replacing something more informal in earlier years). Regardless of what happened before 1994-5, a 17 year history is an ample time span to assess change vs. constancy of various measures relating to members’ interests and the SDIS organization. I will delve into this material during the months ahead and will report periodically on progress.

 

Here are a few initial findings:

 

The number of SDIS members has hardly changed. There were 64 members listed in the 1994-5 Directory and 69 in the 2011-2 Directory.

 

History was a popular topic for members both 17 years ago and today. In the 1994-5 Directory 27 members’ self-reported interests included the word “history.” In the 2011-2 Directory the number was 22, a bit lower than 17 years ago.

 

One might assume from this that not much has changed, but a closer look at comparative data says otherwise. Here is some salient information.

MEMBERS WHOSE SELF-REPORTS INCLUDE THE WORD “HISTORY”

History (as a general topic of interest)

 7 members in 1993-4

      13 members in 2011-2 (more than a doubling)

Art History

       6 members in 1993-4

       1 member in 2011-2 (interest has almost vanished)

American History (varied aspect of this sub-topic)

       4 members in 1993-4

       4 members in 2011-2 (no change)

Other* (specifically qualified aspect of history)

      10 members in 1993-4

       4 members in 2011-2 (substantial reduction)

*Notes: Only two “Other” (Other Specifically Qualified Aspects of History) topics were mentioned both in 1993-4 and 2011-2: medieval history and medical history. In 1993-4 but not 2011-2 several “Other” topics were mentioned: textile history, 20th century cultural history, history of religions, and Roman history. In 2011-2 but not in 1993-4 only one “Other” topic was mentioned: European history. In both Directories there were other topics with historical overtones but this compilation is limited to member self-reports which specifically use the word “history.

 

Random thoughts: What has happened to reduce the number of members whose interests are narrower than the entirety of history? Does this have any implications about the changing nature of interests by members, speculatively perhaps a drift toward a more integrative view of history in its many aspects and/or perhaps an overlapping into related traditional fields of interest? On the other hand, does this compilation suggest a reduction of interest in narrowly focused in-depth studies of history? If any such change is actually occurring, perhaps it can be found by looking for trends in 1994-5 through 2010-1 Directory data.

 

What has happened to interest in Art History? Why has it diminished so drastically? With so much interest over the decades in the various aspects of history, why hasn’t SDIS had an ongoing vigorous History Study Group? I welcome emails which comment on such matters which add to the list, or which provide additional relevant information. I’m at sagus@sbcglobal.net.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Sam Gusman

 

 

fear and trembling???

 “The word book has come to have many meanings, e.g., any collection of sheets of paper, wood, or other material sewed or bound together.” That is from the 3rd edition- 1963- of the Columbia Encyclopedia. Thirty six years later, Encarta defined the same word in much the same way: “a collection of printed or manuscript page sewn or glued together along one side and bound between rigid or flexible covers.”

 

But in 2007 we met the “e-book,” Amazon’s Kindle, with neither paper nor binding. And in the years leading up to that we met the large discount book dealer, the even larger internet book dealer, the resulting demise of many small bookstores and, most recently, the collapse of one of the last large (650 stores) chain booksellers, Borders. The domino effect of all this has changed and unsettled the publishing industry.

 

A very long article in the Jan. 29 New York Times is about the long term fate of Barnes & Noble, the last giant bookstore chain remaining in the U.S., and the potential transformation of its 703 stores laden with bound paper books into mere “digital connection points.” In 2009 Barnes & Noble created the Nook, its answer to Amazon’s Kindle. Amazon has since come out with its improved model, Kindle Fire, and has started a publishing division. The article posits that if Barnes & Noble stores should morph from vendors of paper volumes into sellers of e-books, Amazon’s power would grow and the existing publishing industry would be threatened.

 

Examples of the uncertainty-cum-dread created by this scenario can be perceived by noting words used by the Times to describe the situation. Megastores have “squeezed out” small book dealers; the Web has “gobbled up” and “driven under” the megastores. Evocative of the Wild West, “The Bookstore’s Last Stand” is the article’s title, and Amazon is feared to be “circling.” Described as the “enemy,” “adversary” and “threat” to the present publishing industry and now also of books on paper, Amazon is seen as "Goliath" to Barnes & Noble’s "David" as the latter attempts to compete or “slug it out” with the former. Publishers are “queasy;” they rely on the “browsing effect” and the displays provided by brick and mortar retailers, which stimulate sales of both physical and e-books.

 

Should you be interested in the history of the book as we have known it, San Diego’s Central Public Library has a Wangenheim Rare Books Room with artifacts spanning over 4,000 years in the development of the book. A collection of manuscripts, rare books and items about paper making, book binding and the history of printing can be visited between 1:30 and 4:30 Mondays-Fridays. And if you are curious about the future of local libraries, construction of the new Central Public Library proceeds at 330 Park Blvd.

 

Independent bookstores in San Diego are many. Specialty dealers such as Schwartz Judaica and Mysterious Galaxy cater to particular interests, as do the shops in Balboa Park’s Museum of Art and La Jolla’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Antiquarian and used book vendors exist throughout the area. Texts are available at local college and university campuses; giants such as Costco, Target and Walmart stock books. Patronize them, and they will continue. Happy reading!

Gerry Horwitz

 

how it happened:

 a chronological look at the study groups

 

Works-in-Progress

According to Aline Hornaday, an early participant, “WIP, which was really Alice Marquis’ brain-child, grew naturally out of the conversations with each other when any of us met, as we did very often in those days, lunching together & so on.” The regular SDIS Brown Bag Lunches at D. G. Wills Bookstore stimulated some of those discussions.

 

 The Scholar’s Notebook first mentions the idea of formal Study Groups in 1986. Within a year Alice hosted a brainstorming session titled, “Is There a Cure for Writing Pains?”  The group reported no answer to that question, but the next month Harry Boyle made the first WIP presentation. At a 1990 general meeting, the WIP group presented a panel discussion, “Scholars on Scholarship.” In 1991, Aline published an article after several years trying, and she credited WIP with helping her to polish it. Others described similar experiences with their publications. Alice remained a guiding energy, hosting and coordinating the group. In 1998 Cathy Blecki and Ariss Treat jointly coordinated the group for a year or so; then Alice resumed the reins until her death in 2009

.

Over the years, The Scholar’s Notebook listed as many as ten separate hosts and more than 30 presenters; most of them appeared many times. Their works for discussion include writings – books and articles on topics too many to list; rehearsal of lectures and oral papers; poetry and fiction; and discussions of computers and the emerging electronic media. Many of these works were polished and ultimately published.

Donna Boyle

Literature

In January 1993, some scholars decided to form a subgroup for discussion of “Literature/Discourse Theory.” The small not-yet-board-approved group met in the home of Betty and Seymour Cain.  No record of their discussion has been found, but two years later the group met at Gerry Horwitz’s home to identify five or six literary theories of interest, and they settled on “deconstruction.” They used that theory to discuss a literary work.  Some months later Pat Terry led what was then called “The Literary Criticism Group” in a discussion of James Joyce’s short story, “The Dead.”

 

The group preference and identity changed during the next four years from “Literary Theory” to “Literary Culture” to “Literary Group.”  The linking of “theory” to the reader’s involvement with literature has caused perhaps the greatest stir.  Jane Ford, who supported the group from the beginning, invited us to meet in her living room; we began to define more carefully our boundaries.  We finally described ourselves: “The literary discussion group reads in order to engage as much as we can with the complexities of art we find affective in the work before us.”

 

In October 2001 we read Anthony Trollope’s The Eustace Family Diamonds, the third in his Palliser series of novels, examining “hard core” fiction.  Theory had been put aside, and we became the Literature Group.  We meet every one or two months; facing more complex works we sometimes take more time to finish our discussions.  We take turns hosting the meetings, selecting the texts and leading these discussions.

Harry Boyle

Postmodernism and Social Science

This study group was formed in 1997 to “understand contemporary thought on subjects that we first studied four or five decades ago,” according to a member at that time. Active until the early 2000s, it left the aegis of SDIS to continue as an independent group.

 

Science (aka Brain)

It was about 1998 when I was reading Dava Sobel's Longitude that I came across a couplet "Time is to the clock as the mind is to the brain" that started my enquiry into the mind and the brain. The over-riding question was "What is a thought?" which I posited to some SDIS friends who decided to start a Brain Study Group devoted to reading books and monthly discussions of our readings.

 

Because my home was fairly central and could accommodate the group, we chose to meet there and have continued to do so. We started the group with 9-10 attendees and that number, despite illness and mortality, has been consistent (three of the original group remain and only one member left due to loss of interest). We decided to explore the neuroscience literature as focus of our discussion. Books to read were chosen by unanimous consent, the length of the reading assignments agreeable to all, meetings to be scheduled when everyone could attend.

 

The very first book we chose to read was by Steven Rose From Brains to Consciousness, followed by Memory, by Larry R. Squire and Eric R. Kandel. When one of our group mentioned that she knew Dr. Squire, who lived in La Jolla, we had the daring thought to ask him to attend our meeting and explain some of the science in the book, which was over our heads at that time. He not only agreed to come but asked if he could come with his son after his son's soccer game. We were thrilled, and the meeting was a wild success. He not only explained his work lucidly but filled us in on current studies of brain physiology as well as new analytic methods. His attendance and sharing set the tone for all our subsequent meetings.

 

Our reading history is eclectic, driven by a need to know more absolute science and yet surrounded by past and current as yet unproven theories. Sometimes our reading material was too technical for our current state of knowledge, but we persevered and tried to absorb as much as we could. Sometimes the reading material impinged on some of past knowledge and/or current theories precipitating great discussions.

Bea Rose

 

Colloquy Café

The 2006-2007 SDIS Board invited new members to a luncheon. It was a pleasant event and part of the conversation turned to ideas for a new study group which might focus narrowly on a single word or concept at each of its meetings. There was obvious enthusiasm for the idea. The result, in October, 2006, was a small group meeting with “freedom and liberty” as its topic. Through a similarly spontaneous process the group’s unusual name, Colloquy Café, was chosen. The concept, name, and informal meeting format were set at that time and have changed only slightly since then.

 

The Café meeting process is based on informal dialog at which participants realize that they may hold different views about the meaning of commonly encountered words and concepts. Gaining a rounded and nuanced understanding of the subject, not consensus, is a goal of the dialog. So too is the pleasure of participating in a lively discussion with other SDIS members. Since this group’s first meeting in 2006, with few exceptions, the group has met monthly. A democratic process is used at the end of each meeting to select the topic for the following meeting. The selections have been eclectic and wide-ranging. To illustrate, the first thirty topics were: freedom/liberty, happiness, identity, narrative, love, aging, reality, culture, gender, courage, meaning of life, wisdom, guilt, fear, imagination, humor, altruism, the good death, individualism, music as communication, pleasure, poetry, community, expectations, consciousness, honor, communication, justice, language and truth.

Sam Gusman

 

Culture One and Culture Two

Several SDIS members had participated in a textbook-based non-SDIS bootstrap study of linguistics which emphasized the structure of language more than its meaning. In large part born of their experience, enthusiasm grew for an SDIS study group within which language meaning could be examined. A first meeting of this study group was held in October, 2010 with the initial goal of examining this topic and especially the effect of language on culture. However, from the outset there was recognition that culture itself, in all its varied aspects, should be the broad mandate for the new study group. Indeed, in March 2011, the focus of the group shifted to study of concepts of justice (what’s the right thing to do) and will undoubtedly shift again as different aspects of culture capture the attention of the group. As is the case for the Colloquy Café, the process emphasizes seeing issues in the round and learning from and with each other; consensus is not the goal. This study group, called Culture One, continues.

 

A second study group, called Culture Two was explored briefly in 2010 but was premature; its only meeting was on C. P. Snow’s Two Cultures concept. Because of an overflow of interest in the Culture One study group, Culture Two was reconstituted in January, 2012 and is following in the footsteps of Culture One by studying concepts of justice. In time the two Culture study groups may branch off, each in a separate direction.

                                                                                                                          Sam Gusman

Film

 A film study group was suggested at a September, 2010 Board meeting. Most of our small group prefers to view a DVD film together before beginning our discussion. Selections follow no set pattern; they’ve varied from documentaries to classics, foreign films to independents.  Favorites include Frozen Riverand The Secret in Their Eyes.

Barbara Heckler

 

STUDY GROUPS

Colloquy Café

On Wednesday, March 21, 2012 at 1:30 p.m. Colloquy Café study group will discuss "Aging.” Contact Mary Ellen Stratthaus at mestratt@san.rr.com for further information.

 

Culture One

On Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. the Culture One study group will focus on issues described in Chapter 9 (What Do We Owe One Another: Dilemmas of Loyalty) of Justice: What's The Right Thing to Do? by Michael Sandel. Contact Sam Gusman at sagus@sbcglobal.net  for further information.

 

Culture Two

On Friday, March 9 at 1:30 p.m. the Culture Two study group will start its discussion by focusing on the ideas of John Stuart Mill in Chapter 2 (The Greatest Happiness Principle/Utilitarianism) of Justice: What's The Right Thing to Do? by Michael Sandel. It may also begin discussion of Chapter 3 (Do We Own Ourselves: Libertarianism). Contact Sam Gusman at sagus@sbcglobal.net  for further information.

 

Film

TheFilm Groupwill meet Wednesday, March 7, at 12:30 p.m. at the home of Barbara Heckler to view The Third Man. Discussion will begin at 2:30 p.m. Contact Barbara at bheckler@san.rr.com for information.

Literature

The Literature Group’s next meeting will be on Monday, March 5, at 10:30 a.m. at Gerry Horwitz’s home. Donna Boyle will lead a discussion of Alan Paton’s “Cry the Beloved Country.” Contact Harry Boyle at hhboyle28@cox.net for more information.

Science (aka Brain)

Please call Bea Rose at 858-458-9263 for information about the date, time, and topic of the March meeting.

Works in Progress

No firm dates yet; stay tuned. Contact: Donna Boyle at dboyle101@cox.net.

 

UP CLOSE & PERSONAL WITH ALINE HORNADAY

Aline is a historian and founding member of SDIS. She has had a fascinating career as a publisher, a writer, and a teacher.

Barbara Heckler

 

Q. You spent from 1950-1972 as owner-publisher of the San Diego Daily Transcript and from 1972-1974 as a columnist for that paper. How did you get into this field? What was the experience like for you?

A.  Which experience? Getting into the field or running the paper? I inherited the paper, which both my father Frank Grandier & my mother Lydia Landon Grandier had previously owned & managed in succession (my father had owned the National City News before moving it to San Diego & turning it into the Transcript, as I understand it, but that was before my time). I worked for my mother; then when she retired I enjoyed running the paper, & my experience with the Bar Association & also with my individual subscribers & advertisers (attorneys, contractors & sub-contractors, etc.) was very positive indeed.


     Q.  You received your graduate degrees (M.A. and Ph.D. from U.C.S.D.) many years after you first attended college and after a long work history. Why did you decide to return to college? What influenced your decision on a major?

A.  Most of my friends had college degrees (B.A.s), so when I retired from business I thought I'd like to get one too. It does seem as though I don't know how to stop, doesn't it? But I enjoyed working in the field of European history, since my father was French, & my mother was the daughter of Scots who had emigrated first to Canada & then to the U.S., fetching up in Monteagle, Tennessee (which my great-grandfather had participated in founding). So I just kept on studying, under the direction of Professor Stanley Chodorow.

     Q.  After receiving your graduate degrees, you worked for our March speaker, Dr. Chodorow. What did you do as his assistant?
     A.  Whatever chore Stanley needed me to do & I could do. Since he had directed my thesis, we had already worked together. You might like to look at my thesis?

     Q.  What role did SDIS play in your life in its early years?
     A.  I thoroughly enjoyed my membership in an independent scholars' association
, as I believe that such scholars have a special contribution to make to their chosen fields & are free to make it as they wish. We gave them a venue in which to publish worthwhile articles that might not have been accepted elsewhere by editors confined to more narrow fields.

     Q.  You have strong interests in Scotland, genealogy, and medieval history. Have they each played roles in the articles you’ve written?
     A.  Yes. I am also interested in medieval French history. Genealogy is important to historical study, because to understand people's actions one needs, among other aspects of their history, to understand what their family background has been. In the last analysis, history is made by individuals, whose backgrounds inevitably color their decisions.

 

Q.  What about the Journal of Unconventional History? The name is intriguing – weren’t you a co-founder and editor for about 10 years? Can you give us a brief example of something that is unconventional history?

A.  Yes. Please look at the titles of articles in JUH for examples! My co-editor, Ann Elwood, should be asked this question, too. Incidentally she is also an independent scholar, and a very fine one!

 (Editor’s Note:  Examples of titles are “The Realization and Suppression of Situationism,” “‘Fight for Fertilizer!’ Excrement, Public Health, and Mobilization in the New China,” and “Criminal Proceedings Against Animals in the Middle Ages.”

 

Q.  Out of your many experiences, what has been the most gratifying?

A.  Each has been gratifying in its own way - as the saying goes, one can't compare apples & oranges. I was lucky to be able to return to school, to get an advanced degree, to have made friends with like-minded people, to have been able to publish articles that related to different aspects of my main interests, and to have partly directed a magazine that could present the work of independent historical scholars.

 

 

RENSHAW BOOK PUBLICATION AND DONATION

Two copies of Jean R. Renshaw's Korean Women Managers and Corporate Culture have been donated by SDIS to, respectively, the USCD Library and the San Diego Public Library. Subtitled Challenging Tradition, Choosing Empowerment, Creating Change, the book illuminates the many roles of Korean women, from management, leadership and policy-making to the traditional positions of wife and homemaker. Issued by Routledge, it describes the distinctive corporate culture and economy of that country. The gifts are in accordance with the SDIS practice regarding works by members which are written and published during their SDIS membership.

Gerry Horwitz

About SDIS

San Diego Independent Scholars (SDIS) supports unaffiliated writers and researchers and welcomes everyone who appreciates creative and intellectual activities in the humanities, science, and the arts. SDIS is a non-profit organization and an affiliate of the National Coalition of Independent Scholars. Sam Gusman, President, sagus@sbcglobal.net.

 

Scholar’s Notebook is the newsletter of SDIS. Please send your news for the Notebook to Barbara Heckler, Notebook editor: bheckler@san.rr.com or by mail to 3489 Wellesly Ave, San Diego, CA 92122. The deadline for submissions is the 22nd of the month prior to publication date.

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