MLA Thoughts 4

Questions for presenters
While I was at the conference, I saw that some people on the panel received more questions. I think that is okay, as long as each person has a question. So I wrote a note to myself that for SCMLA, where I am a secretary for a session, that I should see if we can get early drafts of the papers and read them to prepare questions.

I’d even be willing to read them the week of…

I will see what we can do.

Old cookbooks
One of the phenomenal sessions I went to included a discussion of the Orrery receipt book, usually acknowledged as Lady Ranelagh’s. (I thought the presented made an EXCELLENT point for Orrery as author.)

from_art_of_cookery_courtesy_of_schlesinger_library_180pxThis particular receipt (old word for recipe) book has no stains on it. Was it used? Well, the earliest printed cookbooks have frontispieces which show the mistress of the house reading the recipes to the servants. Or rewriting the recipe from the receipt book for more educated servants to follow. (As in the example from The Art of Cookery from the Schlesinger Library.) So, yes, it probably was.

I would say, in light of the three hands (at least) among the composers and the significant emendations and content listings, that this was a well-used receipt book.

Co-author?
What do you call a person who takes a work and makes substantive changes to it, particularly without the knowledge of the original author?

I don’t think you could call them a co-author, although the presenter was deliberate in her use of this term.

Other terms used in this session were:
compilers
writers
recasting (so recasters?)
shearing (taking away from some work in order to fit it for another use)
manipulation of genres
creator (Who is the author of a recipe?)

I suggested, afterwards, that everyone kept using the term “appropriation.” The person appropriated the writing and changed it to make it their own. The work was appropriated. Perhaps the term we are looking for here, when a person takes a work and changes or recasts or shears it is Appropriator? We have an author and an author-appropriator? Or appropriator-author?

I think the idea does make the second person less responsible for the text, but many times they ARE less responsible for the text. They did not create it. Instead they took it, changed it, and made it something different, something usable and useful in their context. So they were not the originator-author, but they were an author.

I like, in fact, the idea of calling them appropriator-authors and originator-authors. It shows that both were authors, but it shows which came first. I would say that an appropriator-author is, perhaps, a derivative work, but not necessarily in the negative sense. The nuns would never have used Samuel Woodford’s text as it was. But they could make use of it through the use of the appropriator-author. By the substantive changes, the work becomes a different work and it is, in that sense, a new work.

That was Jaime Goodrich’s amazing talk that this came out of, btw.

The best session that I went to was the one which sparked this blog post.

298. The Josephine A. Roberts Forum: Early Modern Women’s Manuscripts

3:30–4:45 p.m., Grand Ballroom Salon L, Philadelphia Marriott

Program arranged by the Renaissance English Text Society

Presiding: Elizabeth H. Hageman, Univ. of New Hampshire, Durham; Margaret P. Hannay, Siena Coll.

1. “‘Not Secretly Done’: Private Prayerbooks in the Court of Katherine Parr,” Susan M. Felch, Calvin Coll.

2. “Lady Katherine Ranelagh or Lady Margaret Orrery? Reattributing Authorship for The Boyle Family Receipt Book,” Michelle DiMeo, Univ. of Warwick

3. “Who Is Mrs. M. B.? Monastic Authorship and Dame Clementia Cary’s Psalms,” Jaime Goodrich, Wayne State Univ.

They presenters were all prepared, articulate, and persuasive.

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