The Week In Review, February 24 – March 3, 2014

Reading for Classes/ Independent Studies:

Saints’ Lives: Margaret, Katherine, Ursula

Sarah Salih, “Performing Virginity: Sex and Violence in the Katherine Group.”

Robert Mills, “Can the Virgin Martyr Speak?”

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


Stanton Linden, Darke Hirogliphicks (Kentucky UP, 1996), reading towards revising an article on alchemical imagery in Arthurian texts

Peggy Knapp, “The Work of Alchemy” (JMEMS 30:3, Fall 2000 pp. 575-599), reading towards revising the alchemical imagery article.

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.

I also checked out a large number of books on subjects related to my coursework and directed readings, in preparation for starting on term papers.


I wrote the cover letter and reworked my CV to apply for a summer position in our Writing Center; worked on the critical rationale for my secondary comps list; and worked on revising my Alchemical Imagery in Arthurian Texts article. I also managed to draft a little more towards my dissertation prospectus notes.


English 101 –  Individual student conferences all week. I meet with each of the students for fifteen minutes to discuss their graded essays, how they are feeling about their writing, and brainstorm ways in which they can work towards their portfolio. The week is exhausting for me, but extremely beneficial for my students.

English 104 – On Tuesday, the students turned in their first essays (character or thematic analysis, 2-3 pages) and we discussed Sir Thomas Malory’s Saint Grail (read in translation) and held student-led discussions. On Thursday, I went over specs for the midterm examination next week, and we discussed H.P. Lovecraft’s short story “The Alchemist.” (Incidentally, if anyone is looking for a highly teachable short story to work with, this is a great one — the students really loved it, and it close reads beautifully.)


.I participated in the TA Advisory Council meeting, during which we voted on changes to our university writing program requirements on Wednesday, and on Saturday moderated a panel and attended the other panels for our EGSA’s annual graduate student conference. My co-editor and I held a meeting to discuss our progress in editing Lenses, and I finished editing all but 3 of the first chapter drafts. I began reviewing an article I have been assigned to review for a journal, and as usual I held my office hours for GSA.

Professionalization Activity

On Wednesday, I attended the Women’s and Gender Studies faculty dialogue, and the Grading and Writing Exams in Literature Courses Workshop hosted by the associate dean of our department. On Thursday, I attended the Graduate Student Association-sponsored faculty panel on qualitative research and the Early Modern reading group, where we discussed John Watkins’s “Toward a New Diplomatic History of Medieval and Early Modern Europe” (JMEMS 38:1, 2008, pp. 1-14). On Saturday, I gave my paper, “‘They, like me /… Shrink from the future, and regret the past’: Charlotte Smith’s The Emigrants and the Elegiac Exile Tradition in English Poetry” at the EGSA Graduate Student Conference.

Nurturing my Self:

I really struggled with making time for myself this week, because I had 19, 15-minute individual conferences with students which, coupled with the number of meetings I attended and my determination to work on writing projects, left very little down time. I had three shortish runs (none more than 5 miles) and one weights and calisthenics session of approximately 30 minutes. On Friday, I did work (but treated myself to spending the entire day home in my jammies while I did it!) and finally got to watch the new “Glee” and “Grey’s Anatomy” episodes. We also watched “Gilmore Girls” reruns on Friday night, and on Saturday night after the conference I went out for dinner and drinks with my pre-early modern cohort — we try to have dinner together once a month to promote collegiality and a sense of cohesion among our particular set. And today was so beautiful and warm that we went to the playground down the road and swung on the swings, because as far as I am concerned, you are never too old to play. Also, Girl Scout cookies, y’all. Just saying. Caramel Delites go a long way toward soothing a frazzled and rumpled spirit!

However, I end this week feeling really tired and drained, and I know that I am edging far too close to “doing too much”. Next week is significantly less packed — although I do have a lot of grading to wade through — and I am hoping to give myself a little more down time. I’m really looking forward to the week after next, which is spring break!


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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