Over the course of the semester, each student in our ENGL364 class was required to work on a Wikipedia article of their choosing that relates to Apuleius’ Cupid and Psyche or du Beaumont’s Beauty and the Beast in any way.
Dr. C gave our class a lecture in early September explaining his reason in using this particular assignment for this class. After that session I certainly had a better understanding of how Wikipedia operates as a macrocosm, but I still felt lost in how to approach finding an article. I had seen the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast when I was really young and had never read anything by Apuleius, so I was intrigued by the possibilities of what I could find. I wasn’t sure how far I could go outside of the material given, even more-so after seeing some of my peers choose articles focusing on things such as Maui or Krampus. When I would think of a possibility I would continually ask myself if it was relevant enough to the material while still being an article where I could make a valuable contribution.
I found myself stuck deciding between a holiday such as Día de los Muertos, creating an article on liminal deities, or Eros and Psycheby Robert Bridges. I was heavily considering choosing to work on the article for Día de los Muertos, but I couldn’t find a sufficient amount of material in English on the folklore behind the holiday to feel comfortable enough to commit. I also wasn’t sure about creating an article about liminal deities. When I would check if an article already existed, I would be led to another article listing each liminal deity so I assumed there was a reason for that. My other option was an article on Robert Bridges’ re-telling of Cupid and Psyche, which I had seen was lacking in content..
After careful consideration of my prior knowledge and the time I knew I had left in late October, I made the decision to work on the Wikipedia article of Robert Bridges’ retelling of Apuleius’ Cupid and Psychetitled Eros and Psyche: a Poem in Twelve Measures. I had seen that the article was lacking in information, and I had faith that I could come across something worth adding to it or at least make it look more appealing and interesting.
After selecting my article, I went to the library for the first time. I was unsure of what I wanted to add to the article, so I spoke to a librarian and asked them to help me find works published by Robert Bridges. They performed a computer search and helped direct me to a compilation of Bridges’ poems. At first, I felt as though that trip was successful, but I later realized that the material I had didn’t necessarily fit what I felt needed to be added to the article.
A few weeks later I went back to the library in hopes of finding any kind of biography on Bridges and I found a book titled Robert Bridges: A Study of Traditionalism in Poetry by Albert Guérard Jr. and I read the book to try and find any possible references to Bridges’ mind-set while writing Eros and Psyche and found quite a bit of useful information, but I felt it wasn’t enough to place into the article because I couldn’t find the original source material.
I talked to Dr. C. about what I could possibly do and whether I should consider adding another article to my work, but he recommended that I just keep working on the Bridges article alone and make one more visit to the library. He also made a mention to try and add a section for Critical Reception to the poem’s article, as well as informing me of C.S. Lewis referring to both Bridges and the poem in Till We Have Faces. Bridges summarizes the story of Cupid and Psycheand explains why he feels that Apuleius’ version will always be the true ‘source’ version to him, and how Bridges and William Morris’ versions will never be as accurate.
On my third visit to the library, after asking for further assistance I was led to an office room and met a librarian named Nia. She showed me how to access all of VCU’s databases and perform more advanced searches for academic resources on not only Eros and Psyche, but Robert Bridges and any areas where he was discussed along with the poem.
Nia also recommended I email John Glover, the Humanities Research Librarian at Cabell about the work I was doing. I promptly sent him an email explaining the assignment and what I was working on. He responded by reaffirming my belief that the databases will lead me to what I was looking for, as well as showing me of the best ways to find information on Bridges, Eros and Psyche, and the poem itself individually.
So, I then had enough information that I could confidently begin making revisions and additions to the article. I began by cleaning up the article and hyperlinking terms to their respective articles within Wikipedia and adding a short addition of background information about Robert Bridges. I then took Dr. C’s advice and began a Critical Reception section to the article where I included acclaim of the poem by Coventry Patmore in 1885, as well as the mention of Lewis’ thoughts on the poem and his opinion on Bridges’ writing style that he shared in Till We Have Faces. Aside from those, I was able to use the book I found by Guerard in this section as well. Guerard spends a portion of the book comparing Robert Bridge’s version of the story to Apuleius’ and he also dissects the differences along with why Bridges may have embellished or omitted certain points. I wasn’t sure how I could necessarily fit this information into the article before, but now I had found a way.
I wanted to add a photo of a cover to a book of the poem, but Wikipedia’s policies would not let me considering it was not a photo I had created. I went back to check the training module on adding an image and found that book covers are listed in the What’s Not Allowed? section.
As I find myself at the end of my Wikipedia adventure, I feel as though I’ve learned a lot not only about Robert Bridges’ version of Cupid and Psyche, but also about who he is and classical poetry in general. I’ve also learned more about how I can contribute to Wikipedia if I ever feel compelled to do so in the future even if it’s something as simple as adding a hyperlink to another article or a small tidbit of information that I know along with its source.