On the 8th of February 2017, a group of MA students attempted to contribute to Wikipedia as part of our in-class assessments for our EN6009 module. The task was straightforward: pick a Wikipedia page of your choice and edit it in order to improve it for other knowledge seekers. While the premise was exciting, I was initially nervous: throughout my entire undergraduate degree, Wikipedia was demonised and not seen fit to be used as an academic tool. It turns out that, when used correctly, Wikipedia is a beneficial open access encyclopaedia. In fact, the Wikipedia Editathon has shown me how easy and fun it is to provide Wikipedia with verifiable, correct, and well-cited information.
Because I am doing my MA dissertation on gothic film, I decided to edit the Wikipedia page for the 1961 film The Innocents. The Innocents is a movie that I am definitely considering using in my dissertation, so it made perfect sense to develop its Wikipedia page during the two-hour assignment. Although the ‘Plot’ and ‘Production’ sections of the page were informative and clear, the ‘Reception’ section on the other hand was rather bare, with very little information and citation. You can check it out below:
When approaching this section, I wanted to include some film reviews from the time of release, along with more modern reviews in order to indicate the critical reception of the movie both in 1961 and in the 21st century. This approach actually proved quite interesting, as it showed how the movie grew in esteem over the years. Current film critics, such as Peter Bradshaw and Tim Robey, praised the film, with both critics awarding it five out of five stars. Critics contemporaneous with the film’s release, however, were not as enthusiastically kind. Bosley Crowther, writing for the New York Times in 1961, more or less referred to the film as boring. In order to expand the ‘Reception’ section of the Wikipedia page, I included more detailed accounts of these reviews, as well as providing citation, in order to give the curious reader an indication of how the reception of The Innocents changed over fifty years. You can check out the changes I made to the page below:
As well as updating and improving a Wikipedia page, we also had to live tweet during the assignment, using the Hashtag #EditWikiLit. I definitely found this aspect of the assignment the most daunting: I’m a self-described technophobe who is not entirely confident on Twitter, so tweeting in general is usually a challenge! However, I actually found the live tweeting the most enjoyable part of the class! It was a pleasant way to keep everyone updated as to our progress as well as checking in on our classmates. You can check out some of my tweets from the Editathon below:
Despite my apprehension, the Wikipedia Editathon proved to be the most fun I’ve ever had while doing an in-class assignment! We were given the opportunity to look at Wikipedia in relation to our MA thesis, as well as to improve Wikipedia for other users. The Editathon certainly taught me the value of the internet in academic scholarship, and I hope to further update Wikipedia as I progress on my research journey.
If interested in seeing other tweets from the event, search #EditWikiLit on Twitter.
Here’s a link to The Innocents Wikipedia page, complete with my edits:
Title Image: Wikipedia
Bradshaw, Peter. “The Innocents – Review”. The Guardian, 12 December 2013, https://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/dec/12/innocents-review.
Crowther, Bosley. “Screen: ‘The Innocents’:Film From James Tale Is at Two Theatres”. The New York Times, 26 December 1961, http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9406E1DC153DEF32A25755C2A9649D946091D6CF.
Robey, Tim. “The Innocents, Review”. The Telegraph, 13 December 2013, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/filmreviews/10514772/The-Innocents-review.html.
The Innocents. Dir. Jack Clayton. Perf. Deborah Kerr. 20th Century Fox, 1961. DVD.