Walter J. Ong Archives are Live

Over 95% of the Walter J. Ong Collection has been processed and the Collection is now available to the public. From the Walter J. Ong Archives description:

Housed in the Saint Louis University Archives of Special Collections, it includes his academic files, personal correspondence, class and lecture notes, research materials, and related items; housed with Rare Books is his personal library of over 1,600 volumes, some with significant annotation. The manuscript collection also includes press copy typescripts of some of Fr. Ong’s books, off-prints (both his and others), a number of lecture typescripts (some of which have never been published in any form), some source material, audio recordings, and nearly 200 slides taken by Walter Ong as he traveled through Europe. The bulk of the collection, consists of the items donated to SLU in August 2004 by the Missouri Province of the Society of Jesus, as per Fr. Ong’s request. Also in the collection are unpublished articles and lectures; audio and video recordings of Fr. Ong; library cards from around the world; souvenirs from his trip to the 1929 Boy Scout World Jamboree; correspondence with family, friends, and colleagues; textbooks with his notes taken while a student; sketches and drawings; hundreds of photos and slides of Ong, family, friends, and places he visited; and personal items.

Not counting the books, the Collection spans more than 90 linear feet.

Feel free to browse the Collection’s online finding guide or take a look at the digitized content.

Complete Bibliography of Walter J. Ong’s Publications

Dr. Thomas M. Walsh of Saint Louis University has compiled a blibliography of Walter J. Ong’s publications, which is available both as a downloadable PDF and as a searchable database.

Dr. Walsh, a Associate Pofessor at Saint Louis University and close friend and former student of Fr. Ong, spent a a number of years compiling the most comprehensive and up-to-date bibliography of Ong’s publications, running from 1929-2006.  Dr. Walsh complied the bibliography using Fr. Ong’s own bibliographic records as a starting point and extensively double-checked, corrected, and updated information using a variety of sources including material in the Walter J. Ong Collection. The bibliography consists of 457 original publications of books, book chapters, articles, reviews, translations by Ong, poems, and limited-distribution items, and with the addition of reprints, revisions, translations of Ong’s works by others, and other items, it contains 909 entries

On a personal note, drafts of this bibliography were of great use to me as I processed the scholarship materials of the Ong collection and I’ve long waited for this final draft. In the introduction, Dr. Walsh plans to update the bibliography as reprints, revisions, and translations are published.

My Last Day as the Processing Archivist

Today’s my last day in the archives and I’m wrapping things up on my end, although there’s still much to do. I’ll still have a hand in the process, serving as a consulting curator as the processing work gets finished. The collection is in the good hands of the professional archivists here at Saint Louis University who have been guiding my work these past three years.

From “A Thought on Poetry and Universities”

“A Thought on Poetry and Universities” is a three-page typescript, dating to 1971, which was in a folder with a number of other typescripts, all labeled “Unpublished Material: Inactive.” From now on, it will also be known as Folder 16 of Series 1.D.

The last paragraph reads:

Orientation to the future, which is not the same as futurism or even future shock, is at present an essential of human experience and apparently will be an essential from now on through history. Perhaps, surprisingly, it is not easy for poets, as I have attempted [to] show elsewhere, to be future-oriented in depth. For this, not only poets but humanists generally need to be more at home with diversified fields of knowledge, not only with our vastly expanded humanities but also with the sciences and technology, than most of us are. Humanists are often too fearful of science and technology, which are human creations if they are anything. We need a poetry that can include them and the rest of our growng awarenesses, not just carpingly but also critically, because understandingly.

More on the Walter J. Ong, SJ, Center

ST. LOUIS — As e-mail, text messaging and blogging become increasingly part of our everyday lives, Saint Louis University is launching a new center to focus on the work of a scholar who practically predicted the age of the Internet.

Funded through a $1 million University initiative, the Walter J. Ong, S.J., Center for Language and Culture honors the work of Ong (1912-2003), an internationally renowned scholar who spent his nearly 50-year career teaching and researching at SLU.

“The founding of this new center is especially important considering Ong’s pioneering theories of change in language and human communication, which have become more relevant today than ever before,” said Sara van den Berg, Ph.D., chair of the English department and director of the center. “Technology is changing the way we communicate and relate to each other, and the center will give scholars a place to study this rapid revolution.” [Read more.]

Just so it’s clear, the Ong Center itself did not get any where near $1 million dollars from Saint Louis University, but it has been funded by SLU and by ICF Foundation. I mention this on the off chance that someone looking for a new favorite charity reads the $1 million number and thinks the Center’s rolling in money.

Revising Secondary Orality and Secondary Visualism

Going through the unfiled files (that is, the files from Fr. Ong’s desk and book shelves which were never formally filed), I’ve come across two more references to secondary visualism. (( For other references to secondary visualism and secondary literacy, see both my post “Ong on Secondary Orality and Secondary Literacy” and Ong’s unpublished lecture “Secondary Orality and Secondary Visualism.” )) Unfortunately, since both are from talking points, neither go into any depth; however, in the second piece, “Notenda for Informal Response,” Ong offers a short but radical expansion of his notion of secondary orality and secondary visualism.

The first is from talking points Ong wrote for a guest lecture to Vincent Casaregola’s “Rhetorical Theory and Discourse Pedagogy” course here at Saint Louis University on 15 March 1993. In it, Ong writes:

2. Effect of electronics (first pre-elecrtronic gramophone or mechanical, non-electric phonograph or gramophone [1857, Edison 1877]; electricity in electric telegraph (1837), telephone (1876), crystal-set radio; electronics emerging around 1920s, vacuum tube). Effects multiple and endless: secondary orality (dependent on writing, but results resemble primary orality (EXPLAIN–spontaneity of ’60s). But also “secondary visualism” indefinitely enhanced visual field (graphics, &c), “virutal reality.” Digitization: timepieces commonest experiences of the digitization of the nondigitizable; Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory. Musicians’ rejection of digitized music as unreal. For you deal with: hypertext (George P. Landow’s Hypertext: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology), footnoting footnotes on footnotes on footnotes: everything on any subject (but what is a “subject”?). Comparable development < --- information increase and explosion: old-time history (residual orality: past=action of "heavy" figures) > les annalistes (Philippe Ariès, Centuries of Childhood) > the “new history” > Mentalitiés/Mentalities.

The second is from a one-page, single-spaced printout titled “Notanda for Informal Response,” written for the 1995 Midwest Modern Language Association Annual Convention session “Presences of the Word: Ong Studies for the 21st Century.” In it, Ong writes:

Orality-literacy studies have always been an open field. No one can pretend ever to have said the last word. In orality-literacy studies, now is the time when, more than ever before, we should study interactions. To do this we must be aware of the characteristics of (among other things):

Primary orality.

Oral residue after writing and writing’s sequels. My PW, OL, &c. (( The Presence of the Word and Orality and Literacy. )) Very helpful: Brian Stock, The Implications of Literacy.

Secondary orality (orality interacting with writing, print, and electronics): not only in the electronic age (to which I first applied the term, directly to radio and television) but also in the manuscript and print ages and postmodern deconstruction. Paul, close of 2 Thess.

In addition, secondary visualism of manuscript age, and much more of print age (exactly repeatable visual statement) and of electronic communication (graphics).

Internet: basically visual (computer screen) and hence inevitably distancing (you cannot know for sure the identity of the person with whom you are communicating). Because of the at least unconsciously sensed distancing, compulsive preoccupation with intimacy (featured achievement: out of the millions who correspond on internet, two eventually marry one another–featured story proving great and pervading intimacy!) A reason for compulsive preoccupation with intimacy: rapidity of electronic interchange of thought between two persons creates an environment like–but not the same as–that voice, vocal exchange, sound, in face-to-face interaction. But virtual reality is by definition not face-to-face. Cf. Bukatman, Terminal Identity (subconscious suppressed).

Ong’s Annotated Ramus and Talon Inventory

Earlier today we talked about scanning and posting Ong’s annotations to his Ramus and Talon Inventory. I’m not sure when he stopped updating his revising copy of the book, but he kept updating the book for years. It turns out that Harvard UP let the copyright expire and Ong renewed the copyright in his own name in 1986. I’m not 100% certain yet, but the plan is to scan the entire book and add it to the Walter J. Ong Collection online.


Breaking News:

Saint Louis University has established a new center of excellence with the creation of theWalter J. Ong, SJ, Center for Language and Culture. The Ong Center honors the work of Walter J. Ong, SJ (1912–2003), an internationally renowned scholar who spent his career in teaching and research at Saint Louis University, where he was Professor of English and of Humanities in Psychiatry, and later University Professor.  [Read more.]