I must admit that I’ve held out posting this blog with the hopes that Anjelica Huston would respond to my tweet from #Editwikilit. A sporadic tweeter, with her last tweet being in November, I thought that perhaps she had not seen the tweet yet. Maybe she has — maybe she has not, but as February draws to a close, I need to post this blog. But I really do hope that she is still developing the Maud Gonne project!
I was delighted to take part in #Editwikilit because as I said in my tweet the morning of the event, I have long been a supporter of Wikipedia. It is always my first stop when I’m researching anything, but because of its reputation in academia, I can never use the information that I find in academic work.
#Editwikilit reminded me just how much I use Wikipedia, especially when I saw that classmate Daniel Lynch was creating a page for Anne Enright’s The Green Road. I excitedly tweeted back at him that I had been looking for that exact page a few months ago when I read the book and I was very disappointed to discover at the time that it did not exist.
I was still a bit unsure about my topic for my dissertation, so I decided to make the focus of my edit-a-thon a family affair and make additions to both Anjelica and John Huston’s pages. I felt that each addition or change addressed a hole in the information available about these famed directors and actors.
Anjelica’s Directing Work
Anjelica Huston has had an impressive acting career, which takes up the majority of her biography, but I found that the information on her directorial career was shockingly lacking. Unfortunately, there has not been much critical study on her three films, but I wanted to add that Anjelica has been developing a film about Maud Gonne, which has been widely reported in the Irish press.
There still needs to be a lot of work done to this section, but sadly it only reflects the dearth of information about her directing career. I was glad that I was able to at least double it, even if that only meant two sentences.
Anjelica’s Irish upbringing
In the early life biographical section, the author mentioned Anjelica’s education in England, but it did not mention her education in Ireland. Anjelica spent much more time in Ireland, so much so that in one of her recent tweets she proudly claimed that she is a Galway Girl. As such, I thought that it was important that this section better reflect her Irish upbringing and especially her Irish education, since her time at Kylemore Abbey has influenced work like her film Agnes Browne.
Visually Symbolic Changes
I thought that Anjelica’s page needed some more visuals, so I added a photo from the Wikimedia Commons to Anjelica’s career section. This photo was a symbolic choice because I have noticed that in most articles about Anjelica, she is framed as the “daughter of the famed director John Huston,” and thus to a certain extent her success is attributed to her father. It is undeniable that her familial connections put her in a privileged position — but hey, John Huston was the son of an actor too and he is never framed that way. Anjelica’s success in the industry has arguably surpassed that of her siblings, which shows that while nepotism might have given her the foot in the door, her own talent and dedication has gotten her to where she is today. In the photos I found on Wikimedia Commons, I chose this particular shot because she is confidently walking ahead of her brother, which I think symbolizes how she is the leader of this generation of Huston’s.
John Huston’s Impact on Irish Cinema
While John’s wikipedia page is very thorough, there still is quite a lot of missing information. The holes in Wikipedia pages can certainly be attributed to the fact that pages are edited by individuals, but on the bright side it provides opportunities for continual contribution from other people. There was no information on John’s involvement with the creation of an Irish film industry, so I made a new subsection in the section on his work as a screenwriter and director. I also wanted to try my hand at some of the coding changes, so I added a pulled quote.
Additionally, I added some information from the RTE documentary John Huston: An t-Éireannach about the making of The Dead and how it was a personal final project because of his connection to Ireland.
As it stands now, for my thesis I will be exploring fictional representations of John Huston in the works of Ray Bradbury, Arthur Miller, Peter Viertel, and Arthur Laurents. With the exception of one chapter on White Hunter, Black Heart and The Way They Were, there has not been any research on this idea. Typically with notable individuals who have been portrayed in film, television, stage, or literary fiction, there is a section on Wikipedia that says something like “In Popular Culture.” I decided against creating a section like that for the time being because —and this is going to sound completely silly and paranoid — since this view of Huston seems to have flown under the radar, I don’t want to put the idea out there quite yet. Instead, I updated each individual section of the films that inspired those texts to include information on their fictional representations. I think after I write my thesis, I will add an “In Popular Culture” section.
#Editwikithon was a ton of fun. I dislike this expression, but I truly feel like I know how the sausage is made at Wikipedia, and I have a lot of admiration for dedicated Wikipedia editors. It is not as easy as I had ignorantly assumed. In fact, I believe that if more academics and teachers knew what went into editing and sourcing the content, there would not be such a reticence to use it as an academic source. Additionally, the fact that we were live-tweeting made it feel like a more connected community. I will continue to edit Wikipedia in the future because of this enjoyable exercise.
Bradbury, Ray. Green Shadows, White Whale. Harper Perennial, 2002.
Brantley, Ben. “Theater Review: Some Like It Hot, Some Like It Painted in Words” New York Times, October 11, 2004
Hepburn, Katharine. The Making of The African Queen, Or, How I Went to Africa with Bogart, Bacall, and Huston and Almost Lost My Mind. 1st ed, Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 1987.
Hoberman, Jim (July 13, 2010). “Voice Choices: White Hunter, Black Heart”. The Village Voice. Retrieved 2015-01-04.
“Huston Keen to Make Film about ‘Dysfunctional’ Yeats and Maud.” Independent.ie, http://www.independent.ie/entertainment/movies/huston-keen-to-make-film-about-dysfunctional-yeats-and-maud-26658937.html. Accessed 8 Feb. 2017.
“Irish Film.” Independent.ie, http://www.independent.ie/entertainment/movies/movie-news/irish-film-the-force-is-with-us-30478303.html. Accessed 7 Feb. 2017.
John Huston: An t-Éireannach. Directed by Brian Reddin, interviews with Anjelica Huston, Louis Marcus, and Ann Fahys, TG4, 1996.
Lennon, Peter. Rocky Road to Dublin. Cinematography by Raoul Coutard, 17 May, 1968.
“Sad Farewell to ‘Fairy-Tale’ Girls School.” Independent.ie, http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/sad-farewell-to-fairytale-girls-school-26546852.html. Accessed 8 Feb. 2017.