The Week in Review, 2/3-2/9, 2014

Reading for Classes/ Independent Studies:

Opening Up Middle English Manuscripts (Kerby-Fulton): Preface, Ch. 1 sections II-IV, ch. 2, ch. 3, ch. 6

Gendering the Master Narrative, eds. Erler & Kowaleski, Introduction & chs. 3 & 4

Women and Power in the Middle Ages: Introduction, Groag Bell essay, Hanawalt essay, Ferrante essay, and Hansen essay

“St. Katherine” (Titus MS and those by Bokenham and Capgrave)

Winstead, Virgin Martyrs: Legends of Sainthood in Late Medieval England

Cooper, The English Romance in Time (“Man of Law” and “Second Nun’s Tale” sections)

“St. Cecilia” in the Legenda Aurea & Bokenham; “Prioress’s Tale” from Chaucer’s CT as miracle of the Virgin

Sherry Reames, “The Cecilia Legend as Chaucer Inherited It and Retold It (Speculum 55, 1980) pp 38-57.

Gerald of Wales, History & Topography of Ireland, pp. 23-92

Asa Simon Mittman, “The Other Close at Hand…” in Monstrous Middle Ages

Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, “Hybrids, Monsters and Borderlands”


Joel T. Rosenthal, Understanding Primary Medieval Sources: Using Historical Sources to Discover Medieval Europe (Routledge, 2012) — I’m (still) about halfway through it, reading as background for approaches to using primary texts and artifacts in my research.

Simon Eliot & Jonathan Rose, A Companion to the History of the Book (Blackwell, 2007) which I’m reading in support of building my knowledge of this subject area towards comps, my dissertation, and future teaching purposes.

Jonathan Nicholls, The Matter of Courtesy: Medieval Courtesy Books and the Gawain-Poet (D.S. Brewer, 1985). Reading towards my dissertation topic.


Checked page proofs and verified citations and quotes for my forthcoming article on Arthurian tarot in Relegere (5-6 hours, including travel to and from the library to double-check citations)

Drafted some of the thinking I’m doing on my dissertation topic (2 hours)

Restructured my conference paper on the politics of beheading in Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II and created the handout (4 hours)


English 101 –  On Tuesday, we had our library research orientation session, which is when a research librarian walks the class through performing keyword searches, narrowing results, and evaluating sources. On Thursday they conducted a peer review for their first essays. The essays came in by Friday at 5 p.m., and I’ll be spending several hours today, tomorrow, and Tuesday reviewing them and making suggestions for edits in advance of the final draft, due in two weeks,

English 104 – on Tuesday we reviewed poetry terms we had encountered the prior week, then performed a “real time” analysis of John Donne’s poetry. I projected a copy of the poem onto the screen using the Elmo, and as they made comments about what they noticed I wrote those comments down, then we pulled the various strands of thinking and observation into groups — imagery, structure, meter/rhyme, and so forth — and came up with an overall analysis based on this. On Blackboard discussion, they have to replicate what we did in class in miniature and on their own for the poem of their choice. this allows me to gauge what I need to review concerning poetic analysis before we continue the poetry unit on Tuesday. Thursday was their library research orientation.


On Monday night I served as a panelist on Graduate Student life, answering questions on the subject for prospective graduate students — a university-level service activity.

On Tuesday I attended the Women’s and Gender Studies reception for our program reviewers — a department-level service activity (Although this doesn’t seem like service, it is — programs like WGS are often marginalized in terms of institution funding and support, so graduate students need to demonstrate support and enthusiasm for the program by attending events like this. And besides…. it’s fun!!)

I edited a few of the sections of Lenses. So far, so good! I’m excited about the work my colleagues have done towards this publication and I can already think of great ways to use these sections with my classes!

Professional Activity

This week in addition to the usual Research-Teaching-Service triad, I also attended and presented at the North Carolina Colloquium for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, hosted at Duke University. I intend to write in-depth about the colloquium, and conference-going in general, at a later date, but for now know this was a highly-selective, one day interdisciplinary graduate colloquium featuring only 14 papers organized in a single line of panels to permit everyone to attend all of the sessions.

Nurturing my Self:

This week, self-nurturing was extremely difficult to fit in, since I had so many extra activities on my plate (the page proofs were the curve ball — I wasn’t expecting them to come in this week, since it’s been months since I sent the final draft in — but then, they wanted them turned around and returned with my corrections by Friday, so I had essentially to drop everything and handle that, which put me back in terms of working on finalizing my conference paper.)

Full disclosure: I ate for crap this week. far too much processed and sugary food. And my body is NOT HAPPY ABOUT IT.

Still, I did manage to get out for short runs on Monday and Wednesday, and to do some light stretching and yoga on Thursday morning before work. I started to art journal a new page last Sunday, but sadly didn’t get back to it this week. And, of course, I consider conference attendance a form of nurturing myself as well, since it is a break from the normal routine and gives me a chance to meet and talk with people beyond my specializations, which cross-fertilizes my brain.

I also tried something I have been dying to attempt, which was live-Tweeting the colloquium. Scholars like Dorothy Kim of Vassar College have taken to doing this regularly at conferences like the MLA, and I always enjoy the Tweets. I found that I had a little trouble working the technology at first — my phone kept auto-turning off the mobile internet access — so some of my Tweets went out in the wrong order, which was a little confusing. Once I got that sorted out, I enjoyed Tweeting the sessions quite a bit. Someday, when I have better-mastered this kind of hand-eye-brain connection, I’ll be able to compose the Tweets “in real time”, but for this conference I confess I cheated a bit and took notes as the panelists presented, then condensed those notes into 140-character chunks after the sessions were over. This worked well for me and I could see immediate benefits to be reaped from this sort of intellectual exercise — first, of course, training your brain to take large chunks of information and distill them to their essence, but also, in reviewing and rewriting the thinking I think you enable your brain to retain it better than simply listening the first time around. It also helps you to make better sense of parts of papers that otherwise might have been confusing — and quite frankly, I paid better attention overall to all of the panels because I knew I was going to be Tweeting the ideas. So — my first conference Tweeting experience was, overall, quite successful!


About Melissa Ridley Elmes

Professor and writer; Unrepentant nerd; chaotic good. Author of Arthurian Things: A Collection of Poems. PhD, MFA. She/hers. Views my own.
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