Pink elephants. It’s a silly image, but it’s one that Professor of History Mark Smith uses effectively to illustrate concepts in the otherwise dense material he translates. Dr. Smith works within a unique field, the history of science. There is a prominent duality in this work, as he translates medieval science into modern terms but also puts the work he translates into historical context. For the majority of his academic career, his research has concerned one single, massive editing project of The Book of Optics, which involved establishing a coherent, critical Latin text from several manuscript copies and translating it to English. The Book of Optics was written in Arabic in the eleventh century and translated to Latin in the very early thirteenth century. This work concerns not only the physical science of optics but also the philosophy behind it, which includes the process that happens when you hear or see the words “pink elephants.” Automatically, you call up a picture in your mind of a pink elephant, and that process is a key part of Dr. Smith’s work.
The life of Speer Morgan is a literary playground where fictitious dreams come true. The author of five novels and a collection of short stories, Morgan’s writings have earned him national awards and bylines in publications such as Harper’s and The Atlantic Monthly. Along with these accomplishments, he has been the editor of the renowned literary magazine The Missouri Review for over thirty years.
The segmented boundaries between radio, television, and newspaper that have long been associated with journalism are beginning to blur. The Edward R. Murrows of today are giving “more” by converging yesterday’s journalism with tomorrow’s technology. At the MU School of Journalism, more and more students are taking the opportunity to become more than just print journalists or broadcast reporters; they are classified as a new breed known as “convergence journalists.”
Dr. Smith tells us about the process of choosing his source material. The selection of the manuscripts for editing and translation involved the content of manuscript “families” and how they worked together.
Dr. Smith provides a simplified look at the content of The Book of Optics, the editing and translation of which is the project on which most of his academic career has focused.
Dr. Smith doesn’t believe that his teaching ends with the classroom. One of the major goals of his translation and editing work is to make the materials accessible to anyone.
Morgan’s work as an editor affects his writing in several ways, and he notes that in the end being an editor has made him more realistic about the writing process.
When it comes to writing, Morgan admits that for him the process is time-consuming and slow. He also notes that his work as an editor has made him more self-conscious about his own writing.
The convergence sequence is broken down into classes, each introducing essential skills for a convergence journalist. The classes range from a basic fundamentals course introducing convergence to reporting, editing, and a capstone.