Investigations in the Library

As the month of July draws to a close, I am preparing for an exciting stage in my research on William Carlos Williams and his medical narratives. Throughout the summer, I have been reading Williams’s works and the accompanying scholarship as a means of drawing conclusions about his writing style and views on literature, medicine, and communication. Next week, however, I will be able to look to Williams himself as I continue this investigation.


On August 7, I will travel to Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, where I will view Williams’s prose and poetry transcripts. By examining original copies of his working drafts, studying unpublished short stories, and reading otherwise inaccessible letters and essays that Williams wrote to his contemporaries concerning his views on language, science, and knowledge in general, I will get a valuable glimpse into Williams’s mind and practices. I will be able to study Williams’s raw, unedited portrayal of his opinions, witness his writing process firsthand, and see how Williams revised his portrayal of communication and exchange between his doctor and patient characters as the writing process unfolded. As so much of my thesis involves studying Williams’s fictional portrayal of lifestyles and happenings that match his own medical experiences, this glimpse into Williams’s process of transitioning from the real-world to the fictional will grant me clues into his uniting of two worlds.


I am also a bit nervous about traveling to the library, as I truly want to make the most of my experience. There are so many possible documents for me to study, and I want to make sure I am able to examine all of them. During my day in the library’s reading room, I plan to scour through Williams’s manuscripts for major differences between the archived scripts and his published works, look for distinctions between his published and unpublished stories, and asses his letters for insights that will add to my understanding of the mentioned topics—I hope I am able to do justice to the opportunity!