Because I did not quote anything from Transit of Venus yesterday and raved about the language, here is a short excerpt today. The language here isn’t the most gorgeous, but it does give a good impression of how Hazzard describes characters and scenes and, even better, it is about books:

Alone in the city, Caro was lifting a frayed book in a shop. “How much is this?”

“Fifteen and three.”

Back on the teetering pile. The table was massed like an arsenal.

“Ah well. Let’s say, ten bob.”

Seeing it that evening, Dora said, “You have enough books now.”

Dora knew, none better, the enemy when she saw it.

I am embarking on week two of my final quarter at school. The class I am taking is a humanities reference class. Last week, discussion centered around what are the humanities and the information seeking behavior of humanities scholars, as we say in library school parlance. This is also known as research. Every profession needs its jargon, eh?

For this class, the humanities includes philosophy, religion (which encompasses myth and folklore), the visual arts, the performing arts, and language and literature (which drags in linguistics). History is shuffled off to the social sciences. Much of class discussion centered around the tendency for humanities scholars to work alone. Why is that? went the discussion. Is it because they are trained that way? Is it the subject matter? Is it the kind of personality that is drawn to the field? I suggested it was partly to do with the subject matter. I also floated the idea that there was more collaboration that went on than we might think but that because it wasn’t people standing around bunsen burners wearing white lab coats it wasn’t necessarily recognized as such. And just because there aren’t fifteen names appearing as authors on a paper or a book, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t collaboration that went on either. I didn’t get many people agreeing with me. Most decided it was training and they based their opinion on the fact that when they were humanities undergrads they didn’t have any group projects that they could remember. I want to know what universities they went to because I got stuck with group projects in both undergrad and grad school.

So what do you all think? I know some of you are really humanities scholars so I am curious about your thoughts. I am also curious to know why humanities scholars tend not to go to a librarian for research assistance? Since I would like to be a humanities librarian who forms a good relationship with her faculty and provides the best research assistance possible, I want to know what you have against librarians and the ways they can make your research easier and more efficient. Why do you all have to be so gosh darn stubbornly independent?

Now please excuse me. I must go digest the incredibly rich and yummy piece of leftover birthday cake I just ate. Bookman made me a chocolate molasses cake with the kind of frosting you find on German chocolate cake, you know with the coconut in it? Sooo good!

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