The Week In Review, 2/10-2/15, 2014

Reading for Classes/ Independent Studies:

Jeremy Griffiths and Derek Pearsall, eds. Book Production and Publishing in England, 1375-1475, Introduction, ch. 4, 8-9, and 11-13

Lesley Smith & Jane H.M. Taylor, eds. Women, the Book, and the Worldly: essays by Goodman, Willard, Beer, Jambeck & Summit

Denise Baker, trans. “Privity of the Passion” in Cultures of Piety, ed. Bartlett & Bestul

Selections from Nicholas Love’s Mirror of the Blessed Christ (ed. Sargent)

Watson, “Censorship and Cultural Change in Late Medieval England: Vernacular” in Speculum 70 (1995): 822-64

Pearl and Cleanness, by the Gawain-poet

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”

Marie de France, “Bisclavret”

“Arthur and Gorlagon”

Jeff Massey, “The Werewolf at the Head Table” from Heads Will Roll, eds. Massey & Tracy (2013)

Leslie Dunton-Downer, “Wolf-Man” from Becoming Male in the Middle Ages, eds. Cohen & Wheeler (2000)


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.


Revisions for my forthcoming essay on teaching Chaucer’s Pardoner’s Tale (to appear in the SMART: Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Teaching special issue on innovations in teaching Chaucer)

Drafting towards the editor’s introduction in Lenses: Approaches to Teaching Literature


English 101 –  I graded 20, 3-6 page roughdrafts and returned them. On Tuesday, we did the first of two “Revision Bootcamps” that I hold with my Writing I students, During Revision Bootcamp, I provide them with revision methods for the main problems students face — structure and organization, having a solid argument and thesis, wordiness, clarity, appropriateness of sources, whether or not there is enough research, and incorporation of secondary sources — and they apply one or two of those revision techniques to their current drafts. (I’m happy to share these revision tactics! Just shoot me an email.) Part 2 of Revision Bootcamp was canceled, thanks to Snowpocalypse 2014, but I posted the notes to Blackboard for student use. I did create two screencapture videos to help my students navigate the comments I made on their essays (which I reviewed electronically) and to explain to them how to conduct metacommentary on their final drafts, which are due next week. It took me the entire day on Thursday to figure out how to make those videos — but hey! Now I have a new tool in my teaching toolkit.

English 104 – on Tuesday, we reviewed poetry terms again, then had a student presentation, following which we looked at some of Rumi’s poems, focusing on the way he conflates alchemical imagery with mysticism to produce poems of great depth and layered meaning. I projected a copy of the poems onto the screen using the Elmo, then asked some leading questions; and as the students made comments about what they noticed in response to my questions, I wrote those comments down. We then reviewed how differently Rumi uses alchemy — in a mystical sense, to discuss love — from the way we saw it used in the early-modern English plays, as a social critique of human gullibility and greed. Because of Snowpocalypse , Thursday’s student-led discussions were conducted online. It was decidedly NOT as successful an activity online as it is in person, mainly because the students do better in real time discussions when they are asking and responding to one another’s questions. Unfortunately, this was really the only way we could handle it without cutting drastically into the next unit for the class, so online it was, much as I hated to do it. Sometimes we just have to be flexible and let go of our ideas of what a class “should” be — and it seems from their comments that the students did, for the most part, come away with something out of the exercise.


On Tuesday, I attended the GSA executive board meeting to set the agenda for our general assembly next week, and worked towards resolving a continuing problem we have been having with getting graduate student reimbursements from Accounting in timely fashion.

I also edited a few more sections of Lenses, which is (somehow!) still on schedule.

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:

We played in the snow. For hours. I have a cold and it was totally worth it. We also art journaled and watched “Frozen” (again).


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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