In media(s) res

In medias res (‘in the middle of things’) is a narrative technique in which events are presented as already going on, with the lead-up to those events told later using flashback or other devices. The media coverage of the completion of the Dictionary and our centenary has certainly put us in the middle of things as we prepare to celebrate the publication of our final fascicule in this our centenary year.

Some of the team with the finished Dictionary

Dr. Giuseppe Pezzini (l), Dr. Carolinne White (c), and Dr. Richard Ashdowne (r) with the finished Dictionary

A report in The Times today has been followed up by coverage in both local and other national news, including BBC Radio Oxford, the BBC News website, and the Guardian newspaper. There is still the possibility of more to come. Keep an eye on our ‘In the media’ page for the latest coverage.

Each story has taken a slightly different angle, but together they show the significance of this accomplishment, which has been (to put it in the time-honoured words of a former editor) the work of many hands over many years. Some have picked up on the volunteers who contributed the original slips in the project’s early days, but their gargantuan efforts in producing hundreds of thousands of quotation slips would have been to no avail had there not been the painstaking work of the 17 assistant editors and editors and the numerous editorial assistants over the 46 years that the Dictionary has been in drafting, and chief among them, David Howlett, whose decades of service as Editor (1979 to 2011) saw the production of the largest part of the now-finished text.

The events planned for this week afford us an opportunity not just for a flashback but a more reflective look back at all who have contributed to the enterprise over the years and to recognize those contributions, whether financial (from the AHRC and PHI), administrative (from Oxford University, the British Academy committees and their chairmen, etc.), or academic (from slip-takers, librarians, archivists, readers, and the editorial team), and this we look forward to doing.

In other news, final preparations are under way for those (sold-out) events later this week, when we look forward to welcoming friends, colleagues, and many others interested in our work, including members of many of the teams who are working or have worked on our sister projects around Europe. We hope to report on these events here as they happen.

The display about the Dictionary in the Proscholium of the Bodleian Library in Oxford is in the course of being installed and will be fully ready for viewing from Wednesday. We are currently working on an online version of the display which will provide more information about many of the exhibits than we have been able to include in the display and will be available to viewers around the world. The physical display will remain in place until early February.

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