The Week In Review, March 3-9, 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?”

The Tale of Emare (TEAMS edition)

Chaucer’s Man of Law’s Tale (Riverside Chaucer ed.)

Gail Ashton, “Her Father’s Daughter”

Jane H.M. Taylor & Lesley Smith, eds. Women and the Book: Assessing the Visual Evidence (Introduction, chs. 4, 7. 13)

Barbara Newman, “What Did It Mean To Say ‘I Saw’? The Clash Between Theory and Practice in Medieval Visonary Culture,” Speculum 80(2005), pp. 1-43.

Denise Baker, “Julian of Norwich and the Varieties of Middle English Mystical Discourse”

Rolle, selections from Barry Windeatt’s edition of English Mystics

Research:

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.

Writing:

I completed the draft critical rationales for my comprehensive exams and sent them to my committee for vetting, wrote a draft blurb for my proposed course next term, and worked on revising my Alchemical Imagery in Arthurian Texts article.

Teaching:

English 101 –  Believe it or not, we were canceled AGAIN on Tuesday (a 2-hour delay  due to icy road conditions). On Thursday we completed peer review for their second essays, which are due to me Tuesday after break.

English 104 – on Tuesday, we discussed Ursula le Guin’s “Schroedinger’s Cat” and Jorge Luis Borges’s “The Two Dreamers”. On Thursday, the students sat their midterm examination. I’ve graded ten of them so far, and the scores range from A to F, with most of the current grades low Bs. I will be grading their first essays and the rest of their midterms over the course of the next week, to be returned on Tuesday.

Service:

On Wednesday, I participated in the third of our TA Advisory Council meetings, during which we voted on changes to portfolio assessment, and on Tuesday, I held my GSA office hours. I also reviewed an article for one publication I am on the advisory board, and began reviewing books for a book prize I am helping to judge.

Professionalization Activity

I attended a faculty talk on Wednesday — this is when faculty members in our department share their current research in an informal, hour-long brown-bag lunch session. This week, the brown bag meeting featured two of our currently dissertating students, and it was a great chance to see what they are up to with their research, as well as the ways in which we need to be thinking about our work and how to present it to people with little to no background in our particular areas of specialization. They both did a great job, and it made me feel both excited and anxious to begin my own work…. after, you know, I finish coursework and sit comps!

Nurturing my Self:

The week before spring break is really stressful for me as an instructor — I’m trying to tie up loose ends, to let the students know where they stand grade-wise in time to drop if they feel like they need to, to get midterms taken and papers graded and fifty other things handled before the “week off” — during which I will be attending to the myriad things that just aren’t getting done while classes are in session. This is the juggling act. I liken it to a heaping plate of mashed potatoes and gravy. At first, the gravy is contained; but as you eat away at the mashed potatoes surrounding them, the gravy spills out into the rest of the plate. The plate is therefore never, ever truly empty. That’s the essence of an academic term — you think you are getting somewhere with your to-do list, but then ten other things just seem magically to appear to fill up the calendar space you just cleared. So, this week I nurtured myself by NOT doing all of the things. Instead of killing myself trying to get everything graded and in before spring break, I just brought the midterms and exams home with me, where I am grading 10 per day until they are done, thus freeing up both my time and my energy levels for other things, like (hopefully) getting my article finished before term starts back up.

I also managed to sneak an overnight trip to visit a friend of mine at a nearby institution, which was a nice break from the usual and gave us a change of pace and scenery, which always refreshes my mind. I definitely recommend trying to take even a short trip somewhere during breaks from school; it engages our minds in very different ways than academic work does, and generally makes us feel refreshed and energized in ways that even the best nap can’t mimic. Plus, long drives are great for sorting out tricky writing and research dilemmas in your head!

I will not be posting a “Week in Review” for next week, since we are on spring break; I will return to this feature of the blog the following weekend. Next week, I do hope to post a few entries on subjects I have been considering and reflecting on for a while, so stay tuned for that. Meanwhile — if you’re on break, enjoy, and if you’re not, it won’t be long now, hang in there!

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About Melissa Ridley Elmes

I am a medievalist, wife and mother of two who spends her days researching, writing, teaching, painting, singing, dancing, acting and trying to find more hours in a day.
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