In the May 22, 2014 edition of the New York Review of Books, an article by Robert Darnton rather cheesily entitled “A World Digital Library is Coming True!” warns that:
All over the country research libraries are canceling [sic] subscriptions to academic journals, because they are caught between decreasing budgets and increasing costs. The logic of the bottom line is inescapable, but there is a higher logic that deserves consideration—namely, that the public should have access to knowledge produced with public funds….
The struggle over academic journals should not be dismissed as an “academic question,” because a great deal is at stake. Access to research drives large sectors of the economy—the freer and quicker the access, the more powerful its effect. The Human Genome Project cost $3.8 billion in federal funds to develop, and thanks to the free accessibility of the results, it has already produced $796 billion in commercial applications. Linux, the free, open-source software system, has brought in billions in revenue for many companies, including Google. Less spectacular but more widespread is the multiplier effect of free information on small and medium businesses that cannot afford to pay for information hoarded behind subscription walls….
Yet accessibility may decrease, because the price of journals has escalated so disastrously that libraries—and also hospitals, small-scale laboratories, and data-driven enterprises—are canceling subscriptions. Publishers respond by charging still more to institutions with budgets strong enough to carry the additional weight. But the system is breaking down. In 2010, when the Nature Publishing Group told the University of California that it would increase the price of its sixty-seven journals by 400 percent, the libraries stood their ground, and the faculty, which had contributed 5,300 articles to those journals during the previous six years, began to organize a boycott….
As an alumnus of Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, I still have access to online journals and the entire SFU library from within the campus, but access is limited for off-campus computers when I use my alumni ID and password (eg. JSTOR can’t be accessed, while Project MUSE can).
Alumni have limited access to online resources remotely. Our license agreements with vendors often restrict this access, or the cost of adding alumni access is prohibitive. — email from Janice Banser, E-resources Access & Systems Librarian, Simon Fraser University Library
“It should be possible,” Darnton suggests, “to enlist vested interests in a solution that will serve the public interest, not by appealing to altruism but rather by rethinking business plans in ways that will make the most of modern technology.”
Darnton notes there are some open-source initiatives (the hyperlinks are mine):
The Harvard Open-Access Publishing Equity (HOPE)
The Compact for Open-access Publishing Equity (sponsored by several institutions including Harvard, MIT, University of California at Berkeley)
DASH (Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard)
Open Edition Books, based in Marseille
Open Book Publishers, free online access to books in the humanities, out of Cambridge, England
In describing this last service, promoting which seems to be his article’s raison d’être, Darnton writes
Aside from its not-for-profit character, the DPLA differs from Google Book Search in a crucial respect: it is not a vertical organization erected on a database of its own. It is a distributed, horizontal system, which links digital collections already in the possession of the participating institutions, and it does so by means of a technological infrastructure that makes them instantly available to the user with one click on an electronic device. It is fundamentally horizontal, both in organization and in spirit.
He cautions that lobbyists from the major academic journal publishers (Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, and Springer are the three largest) continue to stymie efforts in the U.S. and Europe to make publicly-funded research (that is, taxpayer-funded) freely available to the people who paid for it. We have to counter this by supporting those new, bold initiatives, and demand from our university and college libraries, as current students and as alumni, unfettered access to their subscription services. My university continues its alumni outreach with frequent emails about events on its campuses, and requests for funding from time to time; in return, I would like the reinstatement of those privileges of online access I had when I was registered as a graduate student and teaching assistant.
Do you, as an alumnus, have unfettered access to your university/college library and its holdings and subscriptions, off-campus?
…as Edward R. Murrow famously closed each nightly broadcast in the early days of TV news. We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. – T.S. Eliot How often we blindly grab a quote from BrainyQuote.com, Quoteland or the venerable Bartelby.com, paste it into our essays as an epigraph and assume it’s erudition will somehow elevate our writing by osmosis! This well-known four lines from Eliot’s The Little Gidding, which was the fourth of his Four Quartets, first published in The New English Weekly in October 1942, not long after the Blitz in London and surrounding areas. Every Londoner who read it then could relate to its themes of trial by fire, purgation and redemption. But I should have typed it thus: We shall not cease from exploration/ and the end of all our exploring/ will be to arrive where we started/ and know the place for the first time. Or as
We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
Reading only these lines, and not knowing it came from a long poem, one would make the assumption this was a statement Eliot had made about the human condition. Reading The Little Gidding presents an altogether different context, one in which Christianity, destruction, and a ghost feature. This post was originally dated April 4, 2014 and in it I said I was ceasing publication, but a month later, I changed my mind: although I am not actively promoting it, Coastline Journal will continue to welcome and publish essays from current students and alumni of graduate Liberal Studies (and similar, interdisciplinary) programs contributors across North America. Bookmark the new URL:
For those of you who wish to learn how to craft better papers, I recommend purchasing any or all three of these excellent books: Verlyn Klinkenborg, Several short sentences about writing. New York: Random House/Vintage, 2013. Stephen Koch, The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop. New York: Random House/Modern Library, 2003. Helen Sword, Stylish Academic Writing. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012.
By Shelly M. Nixon, California Institute of Integral Studies
In this paper, the author explores the origins, associations, and functions of the ancient goddess Hekate. The roles of Hekate in the myth of Demeter and Persephone are discussed, as are Hekate’s place in the Eleusinian Mysteries. Finally, the author describes her own personal relationship to the goddess Hekate.
download a pdf of this essay: Hekate
Few days have gone by in the past months in which I did not ponder how to write this paper. (I have nine and a half pages of handwritten notes and corresponding references sitting in a folder next to me that I have been carrying around since November of 2012.) I cannot say precisely what the holdup is, nor why my motivation seems to have gone the way of the subject itself — dried up and covered over by the minutes, seconds, hours that make up time. I could make excuses about my extended grief over unjustly losing my job and the resulting financial hardship and loneliness that have plagued me. I could also blame the lack of multiple computers and my father’s tendency to dominate the only functioning one, my laptop. Of course anxiety and depression are constants in my life, as are self-doubt and self-loathing. Yet I believe the most plausible explanation is the subject itself. I have never had easy mother-daughter relationships: my adopted mother Rose and I continue to struggle to understand and express love to one another, and I have never met the woman who at such a young age, gave birth to me and then surrendered me to the state of Michigan. Nor do I have children of my own, save my cats and former students; whether or not this is a result of the circumstances of my own birth is debatable.
Nonetheless, I feel like fraud incorporating the tale of a grieving mother and a lost daughter in an emotionally meaningful way that translates into an adequate academic piece. I find, instead, that the aspect of the tale and mysteries of the Demeter/Persephone narrative that I am most drawn to and intrigued by is the role of Hekate. It is through her that I find my way in to the myth that actually feels authentic. Hekate is a complex goddess, taking on multiple aspects: “Hekate was worshipped in five primary roles … Propylaia (Guardian), Propolos (Guide and Companion), Phosphoros (Light-Bringer), Kourotrophos (Goddess of Women), and Chthonia (Goddess of the Underworld)” (Rose, 2001, p. 174). Indeed, “Hekate is an all-encompassing deity, representing both good and evil, the rational and irrational, the celestial and chthonic” (Winkle, 2002, p. 81). She has also served as an inspiration and patron during this dark time in my life.
If you’re going to read Lynn Coady‘s Hellgoing, a collection of short stories which just won the Scotiabank Giller Prize, which is, actually, a pretty Big Deal up here in Canada, with the attendant and expected boost in sales concomittant with the drop in the price of the book (at least, online), if you’re going to read Coady’s book, I say, it is recommended to do it with a drink.
A drink of something alcoholic. I don’t say this AS an alcoholic: far from it, I’m rarely with a drink, and can only take a glass or two of white wine, or a few ounces of Scotch, and I’m good. I mean, I’m not good, I’m all right, but if I took more, or, let’s say, I made the mistake, made so many many times in the past, of accepting a glass of red wine, I will enjoy it, yes, but will wake the next day with not a hangover, per se, technically it is not a hangover but a monstrosity of a fucking migraine which will incapacitate me until precisely 1500 hrs at which point I will arise from my bed, or couch, return the icepack to the freezer, splash cold water on my face, and resume the day. So no: I don’t count myself among the drinking establishment. I don’t count myself a drinker at all, but if, as I began here, if you are going to read Hellgoing, I think it a fine idea to have yourself a drink at hand. (more…)
By Mary Naples, MA Humanites (Women’s Studies) Dominican University of California.
download the essay: The Rape of a Goddess
Who were Demeter and Persephone and why did their myth resonate so strongly with women of ancient Greece? There are twenty-two variations of the story of Demeter, goddess of the harvest and her daughter Persephone, queen of the underworld. Thought to have been composed between 650-550 BCE, the Homeric Hymn to Demeter (hereafter called the Hymn) is believed to be one of the oldest.[i] The episode that leads up to the narrative found in the Hymn is as important as their story itself. Zeus, lord of the gods, rapes his sister Demeter; the product of that rape is Persephone. They never married; indeed Zeus would have been the husband to hundreds if he married everyone he raped. The Hymn begins with the reciting of Zeus’ agreement with Hades. To be sure, his being an absentee father did not stop Zeus from arranging the marriage of his daughter Persephone—unbeknownst to either mother or daughter—to his brother—Hades, the lord of the underworld. One day while Persephone was out picking flowers with her friends, the earth cleaved open and Hades, on a horse drawn chariot, charged out violently snatching Persephone to be his wife for all eternity in the underworld. Persephone shrieks at the violence of the attack, alerting Demeter to her peril.
Inconsolable at the loss of her daughter, Demeter roams the earth in search of Persephone. No one, god nor mortal, has the courage to tell her what had become of her daughter. Finally, through information gleaned by the pre-Olympian goddess Hecate, Demeter is informed of Persephone’s rape. Upon discovering that Zeus made the perfidious bargain with Hades, Demeter withdraws from her home on Mount Olympus instead making her home in an agrarian community populated by mortals. After many trials and tribulations there, a grand temple is built in Demeter’s honor with attendant rites to conciliate her spirit. But these honors are not enough to appease the grieving goddess.
It was at this point in the story that Demeter realizes her full strength. As a means of regaining her daughter from Hades, she exploits her power of fertility and stops the seasons, turning the earth into a barren wasteland. Reluctant to see the planet he shepherds whither away, Zeus pleads with Demeter to make the earth abundant once again. But Demeter will not relent until Persephone is released. Finally, Zeus intercedes on Demeter’s behalf and orders Hades to return Persephone to her mother’s earthly domain. Ever obedient to Zeus, Hades adheres to his instruction but not until he lures Persephone into eating a pomegranate seed. The mere act of eating in the underworld binds Persephone to Hades as his wife for a few months out of every year. (more…)
by Michael Cox, MA Liberal Studies, Simon Fraser University
(An earlier, much edited version of this essay was published in Confluence, vol. 15 no.2, spring 2010)
Download this essay as a pdf file: Drinking This Champagne Water
These blessed mountains are so compactly filled with God’s beauty, no petty personal hope or experience has room to be. Drinking this champagne water is pure pleasure, so is breathing the living air, and every movement of limbs is pleasure…(John Muir, Nature Writings 228)
Sixty years separate Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s death (1778) from John Muir’s birth (1838). Muir is not considered a philosopher, and Rousseau is not considered an environmentalist, but each man had an abiding passion for the solace occasioned by long walks in nature, and saw in Nature an expression of God. Each loved the mountains, whether hiking or appreciating them from a distance, and each shared a love of flowers, and of moving water, and each saw himself reflected in the cold, still waters of alpine lakes. This paper addresses the parallels between these men, and the divergences and convergences, which until now have not been sufficiently explored.
In those papers I have read on Muir, references to Rousseau are scant. Several works compare Henry David Thoreau with Rousseau, most of them examining their social philosophies, but as Joseph Lane (2006) notes, “the lines of intellectual transmission from Rousseau to Thoreau and his successors…are, at best, indirect.”
Indirect, but not indistinct. If I were to list several founders of contemporary environmental philosophy—which I am aware would be contentious—there is good reason to include Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
By Mary Naples, MA Humanites (Women’s Studies) Dominican University of California.
download this essay: sacrificingdido
Commissioned by none other than Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus (63 BCE-14 CE) after his decisive victory at Actium over Antony and Cleopatra, Virgil’s Aeneid is a patrilineal tale tracing the pedigree of the Italic people from the mythical stalwart Trojan heroes. Indeed, both Aeneas and Augustus were victors of empire who were thought to usher in a new “golden age,” Pax Romana, waging war to end all wars, and as such were hailed for their imperial accomplishments. Forasmuch as the mythical Trojan hero, Aeneas was meant to represent Augustus, most scholars agree that Dido, Queen of Carthage (modern day Tunisia), was modeled on the jezebel and much-admonished Queen of Egypt, Cleopatra.
But who was Dido? And how was her fate implausibly linked to that of the Roman Empire? Upon discovering that her brother had a hand in the murder of her beloved husband Sychaeus, Dido, the daughter of the King of Tyre (present day Lebanon), fled her home to the coast of North Africa. Upon arriving, she asked the locals for a small bit of land no more than the size of an ox-hide. Resourcefully, she cut the hide into thin strips marking an area around a hillside as her new domain. Carthage was born. The colony grew quickly and became prosperous. It is at this point in her story that Aeneas enters the scene. (more…)