As an old Lancaster student any excuse to return is grabbed with both hands. Furthermore, I require manuscript training as part of my thesis so the day sounded ideal. We were all instantly made to feel welcome by the organiser Prof. Sharon Ruston, you can’t go wrong with cookies and Party Rings! Our first activity was to split into groups and discuss the set reading: Joe Moran’s Interdisciplinarity. I was taken aback by the sheer extent of contribution from every member, everyone was so interested and involved it was almost difficult to contribute, there were so many opinions. The discussions were then opened to the entire room and after a little coaxing from Sharon the ideas flowed freely, demonstrating what an important concept interdisciplinary work/study is.
Following this there were the five minute presentations given by each member where they could discuss their thesis, their interest in manuscript work and how they believed their work was interdisciplinary. Though everyone was given the same outline it was interesting to see how different each presentation was. Though there was a reoccurring theme of people going over their time limit which resulted in some panicked editing from myself. Nevertheless, my talk went well and I even received a few laughs which I took to be a good sign.
After a short period of discussion we were led over to the Ruskin Centre by Prof. Stephen Wildman. Stephen is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to Ruskin which was particularly beneficial as not everyone had encountered Ruskin in their studies. We were given a brief tour of Ruskin’s etchings (not art and not sketches) before lunch. After lunch was where the fun really began, laid out before us was an array of letters written by Ruskin. We were given the challenge of transcribing the letter before us which everyone took to with relish and suddenly it felt like an exam. With some manuscript experience I transcribed about 80% of my letter correctly but there were certain bits which had be stumped. Upon being handed the transcription I was informed that Ruskin had a tendency of writing in baby talk to certain family members, so my guess of ‘Dear wi Davie’ became ‘Di wi Doanie’ meaning his cousin Joanie, Ruskin can’t go making it easy.
We were given a fascinating talk by Prof. Sally Bushell and partook in group work discussing the relationships between the visual and the verbal. Followed by a creative activity with Dr. Gerald Davies in which we were given a relic and a notebook and we were told to draw the object from four different perspectives and to jot down notes inspired by Ruskin’s activities. I was given a small skull which was not very easy to draw but filled my imagination. I had so many different theories about its origins and purpose which were further enhanced by my realisation that the skill was carved from bone. Overall it was a fascinating and involving day. It was easy to see from everyone’s interactions with the work and each other that the day was a success.