A few words from the trenches by Jessica Bosnell—our new RA Blogger—to Students in the M.A. in English Literature (Public Texts):

Are you looking for an internship where you can work flexible hours from the comfort of your home, or from anywhere really, in your pyjamas, your hair dishevelled and a steaming cup of coffee in hand?

What about an internship where you can learn about Genetic Editing and how it can change the way we read literature?

Do you enjoy detailed work? Do you have eyes like a hawk and catch every error in the essays that your friends send you to proofread?

Do you want to be involved in the development of a massive project to bring the literary works of a prolific author online?

Then just keep reading!

Soon, you will need to decide whether to complete a thesis, a major research paper or an internship. When I was in your place, I chose to complete an internship because I believed that my role as an intern had the potential to turn into not only a full-time position, but a meaningful career doing something that I loved to do. Isn’t that every graduate student’s dream?

My dreams really did come true – if you will pardon the cliché – so I’d like to share with you my experience as an intern with EditionsTrent.

Here’s how it all started:

Professor Zailig Pollock visited one of our Public Texts’ classes as a guest lecturer, and he spoke passionately about P.K. Page and Genetic Editing. At the end of his lecture, he mentioned casually that there were internships available – instantly, my heart started pounding and my mind raced – this was perfect for me! I met with Professor Pollock and Professor James Neufeld a few weeks later. During the meeting, I learned about several projects that were ‘in the works’ at Trent (there is always so much going on here, I love it!). In March, I began learning how to code. Officially, in May 2016, after I had finished my studies in the Public Texts Master’s Program, I began a twelve-week long internship working with Professor James Neufeld. He was so patient with me as I learned this new skill – always offering encouragement and praise.

During my internship, I worked on the coding and editing of five years of the Robertson Davies’ Theatre Diaries. I learned how to prepare digital images of Davies’ original manuscripts, transfer diplomatic transcriptions of his manuscripts into a program called Oxygen, and use the standard markup language of the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) to create xml files for each year of diary entries. I worked to ensure that the structure of the text was consistent, and made editorial changes such as spelling errors, regularizations, and expansions.

The goal of the Davies’ Diary Electronic Edition is to present to the public, a fully edited digital version of the extensive diaries that Davies kept throughout his life, beginning with his Theatre Diaries. The total word count of his multiple diaries is estimated at over three million. The digital presentation is based on the interface model developed by Professor Zailig Pollock and his son Josh for The Digital Page – a digital collection of the work of Canadian poet, author and artist, P.K. Page. It allows the user to move easily back and forth between a transcription of the text and a regularized reading version, using a slide bar. In the reading version, readers can access annotations and illustrative multimedia material through hover-text hyperlinks. The electronic edition is efficient for the editor and fun for the audience, whether they are scholars or general interest readers.

But that, graduate students, was only the beginning! After I completed my internship, I was hired on as a Research Assistant with the EditionsTrent Group and have since been fortunate enough to work on the E.J. Pratt Project, and am currently working on the P.K. Page Project.

Stay tuned to this blog for more info on that project and a quick introduction to Genetic Editing…