The Fergusonia File

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Editing Trotter's Biographical Entry

The extant Wikipedia article for Catharine Trotter Cockburn, aside from the fact that it is what is called a “stub,” appears to be accurate and objective. If anything, the tone seems too objective, especially in the area of Trotter’s legacy. My task as editor, therefore, is fairly straightforward. I will expand the biography (the details of which seem consistent across the various accounts), and I will add a list of books that Trotter published in her lifetime (or shortly thereafter, her collected works). I will also add a list of books currently in print, available for purchase (a list I compiled by surfing various e-stores like and A good deal of the work I have done consists of synthesizing into the article material that was contained in the external links.

In terms of sensitive/opinionated material that might contravene the NPOV strictures in place in the Wikipedia community, I don’t feel that I had to leave out much. One advantage to writing on a relatively obscure author is that I do not have to juggle as many competing interpretations of her life and work. I suppose that I could be more blunt in writing about her legacy as it relates to feminism if the guidelines were not in place, but the relatively neutral terms in which I couched the information do not impede my project. Finally, I largely avoided commenting on specific plays because a) I’ve only read one (Love at a Loss) and b) I questioned the usefulness of going into depth about each work in what is otherwise a very general biographical article. Personally, when I read the other articles from which I drew my factual information, the brief sketches of individual plays did not stick with me. Details of common themes were welcome, but plot summary was (in my opinion) so much wasted ink.

My work on the entry, then, was hardly impeded by the NPOV policy. I wouldn’t have written any differently otherwise.


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