Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The first update of the New Year...

Since I've been working on a writing project, I haven't gotten too much other reading done yet in the New Year. I'm a little over 150 pages from the end of Behind the Screen: How Gays and Lesbians Shaped Hollywood 1910 - 1969 (2001, Viking; 422 pages), by William J. Mann. It isn't the gossip-fest that I feared when I picked it up, and there are more names I don't recognize in it than those that were household names. The big bonus is that Mann not only talks about actors, but about writers, directors, art directors, costumers, set dressers and the rest of the people who are as important (or more) in the making of movies than are the actors. I'm pretty sure I'll have more to say about this book when I'm finished reading it.

As far as the research I've been doing for my writing project, I've been dipping into several books, including the Cambridge Illustrated History of Archaeology (1996, Cambridge University Press; 386 pages), edited by Paul G. Bahn; The Practical Archaeologist: How We Known What We Know About the Past (2nd edition, 1999, Facts on File; 186 pages), by Jane McIntosh; and Archaeology: A Brief Introduction (1999, Prentice Hall; 306 pages), by Brian M. Fagan. All very interesting stuff, but I'm mainly on a mission right now to construct a list of archaeologists through history and to gather a glossary of key terms, as I'm essentially writing a study guide for beginning students. Eventually, I'll move on to cultural anthropology and biological anthropology, as I'm wanting to do either an overall study guide for all three branches of anthropology or to do a separate one for each subfield. It's a fun project, as it's what I'm educated in, but I'm having to do much more research than I had counted on (it's amazing how much detail one loses a few years out from taking classes). That's fine; it's just taking more time than I had hoped to do the writing, which I'm doing as I research along, or trying to.

It's not original work by any means, but it's something I wish I'd had access to when I was taking my first courses in these subjects. My theory is that since I actually knew quite a bit about these topics when I took those classes because I'd done a lot of reading, students who are jumping into these classes without much prior knowledge would find such a reference, all in one book (either for all three or for each subject separately), valuable. Something like this might already exist, but if it does, I haven't found it. So, I'm writing my own.

I just wish I could get more up-to-date reference materials from my public library system. There is more recent stuff in the local state university library, but there are logistical problems in getting there (no close, free parking, mostly). So, I'm doing all the work I can from older sources, and then will spend some intense work days at the university library, updating what needs to be updated, with a list in front of me of just exactly what I need to find, so that I won't get off-topic and end up browsing among the stacks. Don't laugh. Going and playing in the library is one of my favorite things to do.

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