>I’m back from my conference trip and hard at work on correcting my book’s page proofs and writing my index. It’s a good thing they left me 24 pages for it, because it’s going to be close to that when it’s done. I’ts ridiculously long because I went and wrote a book with overlapping categories of concepts that need separate lists as well as cross-listing. Damn me for being complicated. And can I just say that for some of the index entries I really, really want to say, “see the entire frakkin’ book.” Te-hee!
Anywho, now that I have the proofs, I can see the Library of Congress number I’ve been assigned. And it’s an HQ number, putting me in the cultural history category that is indeed, a major subject of the book. But I think of it as first and foremost about a particular genre of medieval literature. That designation, according to the Library of Congress, however, comes second among all the categories listed. (Well, at least someone doing a search by LC subjects in literature will still be able to find it by the appropriate category.) Maybe being in the HQs will bring me readers I wouldn’t already have — people browsing the shelves in that subject of cultural history — but I’m kind of bummed I’m not with my literature peeps in the PRs.
And I’m having an identity crises. Blog categorizing sites think this blog is a history blog, and now the Library of Congress thinks my book is primarily a work of cultural history. And meanwhile, I’m finding that a lot of what’s been written relevant to my newest project on a certain manuscript and its owners is done by historians. (Hello, Dr. V., there’s a reason why it’s called the history of the book! Duh!) And at this weekend’s conference, the two keynote speakers were both historians, but their work seems awfully close to the kind of stuff I do and think about. Hm. Sure, I do have a new historicist approach to literature, but I thought I was a literature person first.
Maybe I’m the academic equivalent of an adopted kid, and I’m now just realizing that my “parents” aren’t really my parents! This is all rather shocking. I mean, I’m sure my “real” parents, historians, are great people and all — heck, maybe they’re cooler than the literary people I thought were my parents — but who am I?
You know, next time our admins give lipservice to how it’s the age of interdisciplinary work and we need to be doing it (without, of course, any institutional structures to support it), I’m going to pipe up and say, “Well, I’m in an English department, but everyone thinks I’m a historian, so there you go.”
And PS — Just out of curiosity, where do you fall in terms of the “a historian” vs. “an historian” usage?
PPS – This is my 300th post, just so you know.