On March 21 the Undergraduate Research Standing Committee held the first annual Student Research Day. It was the first time the entire University came together to showcase the amazing research Mount Royal’s undergraduates are doing in their respected fields.
At an event where so much information was aggregated and articulated, it is no surprise to see representatives from the Library attending.
However, in a unique gesture, Mount Royal’s Library announced a $1000 award to recognize students producing outstanding scholarly projects that demonstrate information literacy and the effective use of information resources.
The inaugural Library Award for Excellence in Scholarly Endeavours recipient is Kelsey Moskal, a fourth year student in the English Honours program. Her submission was her honours thesis project, Pimping Pericles: Editing Discourse and "Corrupt" Playtexts, in which she compared three edited versions of Shakespeare's Pericles to the original source material from which the play was derived.
Going back to the source
According to Kelsey's honours supervisor Cliff Werier, Pericles’ playtext is known to be notoriously corrupt.
“Corrupted plays are ones in which the content of the original play has not survived in its entirety, and someone has attempted to fill in the blanks after the fact,” he said. "Pericles has a complex and controversial history and Kelsey's project to compare modern edited versions of the play is an original undertaking previously ignored by other scholars.”
To undertake this analysis, Moskal had to aggregate and analyze a number of different sources from different eras to determine where editors had made interventions in the text and what their principles may have been in making changes.
Moskal read three modern adaptations of Pericles, a high-resolution digital copy of the original 1609 quarto from the British Library (wherein large passages are clumsily-written or borderline incomprehensible) and the two commonly attributed texts from which the play was derived.
“I spent the first two months of the semester doing nothing but reading Pericles,” said Moskal, who was an admitted Shakespeare-obsessive in High School. “Trying to aggregate all the sources, find out where editors had made changes, and determining the editorial philosophy behind those changes was all-consuming.”
The Library steps up and salutes students
For members of the award committee, the breadth and depth of resources Moskal drew upon to write her honours thesis was a deciding factor in her application.
“Kelsey’s ability to make the most of modern information technology and access both local and remote library resources to study a 400 year old text was impressive,” said Alice Swabey, a member of the committee.
“Kelsey's project was an enormous and sophisticated one, involving a very large number of sources she had to track down and synthesize. The final product is one that is, to quote her supervisor, ‘a wonderful piece of work: subtle, scholarly, and original.’ We felt that it was an outstanding example of scholarly excellence and impressive information literacy.”
Finding a future in research
For Moskal, the Library’s commitment to helping students in their research was a defining difference in her Mount Royal experience. “I love that the library is recognizing research, and that the institution is giving the library the opportunity to recognize the ways that students are accessing material today.
“This project is the capstone of my degree, and it means a lot to me that Mount Royal is an undergraduate institution focused on student research. If I hadn’t had an opportunity like this, I don’t know if I necessarily would have found my niche, and now that I’ve found it, I want to do it forever.”
Kelsey will be graduating this spring, and has already been accepted into the MA program at the University of Calgary, where she intends to focus on medieval and early modern literature. She has been awarded an impressive scholarship along with a research assistantship.
— Colin Brandt, April 19, 2012