By Stephen Enniss
As William Faulkner's novel A Fable expanded in his mind and grew in complexity, Faulkner resorted to working out the plot on the wall of his Oxford, Mississippi study.
Here at the Ransom Center we are undertaking similar planning that will set our directions and priorities in the coming years and, we hope, prepare us to face future challenges and opportunities. Among these is the continued growth of our physical and digital collections, new and innovative ways of sharing the Center's rich collections, and targeted outreach to students, researchers, and the public.
Such planning elicits a wide range of reactions. Some could view it skeptically, while others see it as an opportunity to share with one another our ambitions for our work and for an institution we love. But whatever our feelings for flipcharts and colored markers, who among us doesn't make plans? In the Ransom Center collections one can find Norman Mailer's intricate character timeline for his novel Harlot's Ghost and Alfred Hitchcock's hand-drawn storyboard for Spellbound. The Norman Bel Geddes collection includes numerous drawings and models for a future we are still coming to realize.
Planning itself can be a highly creative activity, and I hope it will prove so for the Ransom Center. It will also be grounded in a long tradition of scholarly practice and in the humanistic values that practice serves.
The conference room walls we are posting our plans on may not appear as captivating as Faulkner's plot for A Fable, but, in fact, we are doing something quite similar. The planning we are undertaking will shape the next chapter in the ongoing story that is the Ransom Center.