Category Archives: Caricature

Publication update (or, writing with people is the best)

My first monograph The Business of Satirical Prints in Late-Georgian England is out (in ebook form, physical copies are forthcoming). Naturally I am pleased. The monograph is based on research that was kick-started by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art who awarded me a postdoctoral fellowship way back in 2012. I wrote about my plans for award at the time and it is fair to say I did something rather different than planned: instead of fettling my doctoral thesis to add more about the business side of late-Georgian satirical prints, I wrote a book about the business side of late-Georgian satirical prints. I’ll write more about the monograph here at a later date – especially the ‘digital history’ that went into it and why it has a deliberately boring cover – but I want to use this short post to write about labour.

Whilst I was putting the finishing touches to my monograph, I was doing the same for a co-authored article where I am one of nine authors (‘Enabling complex analysis of large-scale digital collections: humanities research, high performance computing, and transforming access to British Library digital collections’ is out in Digital Scholarship in the Humanities later this year). I have also spent the last year working with another historian to research and write about encounters with computers in the Mass Observation Project Archive. Writing with other people is something I’ve done before, but the outputs have usually been a little more ‘meta’: project reports, guides, training materials. Over the last year I’ve realised that I really enjoy writing History and Digital Humanities with other people. I also benefit from it: I’m better able to write to a plan than my whim on a given day, I write better first time and leave less for the rewrite, and I’m more aware of the quirks in my prose (for example, like right here, I write in threes..).

In these and previous co-authored projects roles were assigned and labour was undertaken based on who had the requisite capacity, expertise, and will. Quite rightly, then, everyone involved got co-authorship credits. And I wouldn’t have it any other way: I’ve been banging the ‘Humanities researchers deserve co-authorship credit’ drum for a while now and as #ThanksForTyping has reminded us, academia has a history of concealing labour.

All this made me think about my book. The bibliographic metadata for The Business of Satirical Prints in Late-Georgian England says it has a one author: James Baker. There are no co-authors, but there were many hands involved in making the book happen. Most are mentioned in my Acknowledgements (though, knowing me, I forgot some people) but in the spirit of my recent adventures in co-authorship I want to take this opportunity to pick out a few people who deserve an extra mention.

Emma Clements: Just over a year ago I realised I was way to close to the project to see what worked and what didn’t work. So before I submitted my manuscript to my publisher I decided to hire a professional editor to look at my prose. I asked a friend who is an editor (thanks Faye!) and ended up working with Emma. The process of discussion and reflection that resulted helped me rethink and revise both the presentation and the structure of my argument, resulting in me submitting a much better manuscript to Palgrave (I should add that my decision to do this was no slight on my publisher, I just felt I needed a different type of editorial input earlier in the process!). Anyway, huge thanks to Emma for her hard work and it goes without saying that all remaining errors are my own! Emma’s contact details are at: https://www.sfep.org.uk/directory/emma-clements-editorial-services

Louise Falcini: I like a good book index. Indeed I often comment on indexes in reviews and find those books with the best indexes those I refer back to most often. In this instance I didn’t have the time to commit to compile a good book index and so having asked around (thanks Tim!) I was delighted when Louise agreed to compile my index. And although Louise did the hard work, what I enjoyed about the process was that we collaborated and that in so doing I was challenged to think about how I wanted the index arranged as a result of Louise attempting to follow the intellectual thrust of my argument: for example, publishers feature prominently and prints are listed both on their own and by artist. Huge thanks then to Louise for building the index I wanted. Any errors that remain stem from my poor proof reading!

Mathew Crowther: Mathew and I share an interest in late-Georgian satirical prints. But whilst I research and teach in a university context, Mathew does so in a collecting context and writes about this at his wonderful blog The Printshop Window. Conversations with Mathew have been invaluable to both clarifying points of uncertainty and generating ideas, and so I was delighted when Mathew agreed to make reproductions of prints from his private collection available to me for publication. Quite apart from saving me a few quid, using these images is intended to celebrate the knowledge and expertise that exists outside of History departments. So, a huge thank you to Mathew for his generosity.