The Week in Review: April 14-19, 2014

I’m still playing catchup with these final weeks of classes, but I am determined to make sure the whole term is documented so prospective graduate students in the humanities–particularly in English–can have a good sense of what they might be expected to do. The good news is that after this week, there is only half a week more of classes, plus the final exam period, and I’ll lump those together in order to condense things. Then, it will be full steam ahead on other topics I’ve got lined up, like more on comps, ideas for teaching and thinking about teaching, reviewing and thinking about student evaluations of your teaching, applying for awards, ideas for taking notes towards writing, seeking out writing opportunities, what to wear, participating in department and university-level governance as a graduate student, and of course more on conferencing and developing collegiality.

Reading for Classes/ Independent Studies:

The Showings of Julian of Norwich, ed. Denise N. Baker (W.W. Norton, 2005)

Denise Nowaleski Baker, Julian of Norwich’s Showings: From Vision to Book (Princeton UP, 1994)

Barbara Newman, “Redeeming the Time: Langland, Julian, and the Art of Lifelong Revision” Yearbook of Langland Studies 23(2009), pp. 1-32.

“Sir Orfeo” and “Sir Gowther” in Middle English Breton Lays, eds. Laskaya and Salisbury (TEAMS 1995)

Michael Uebel, “The Foreigner Within: The Subject of Abjection in Sir Gowther” in Meeting the Foreign in the Middle Ages, ed. Albrecht Classen (Routledge, 2002)

Elliott Kendall, “Family, Familia, and the Uncanny in Sor Orfeo” in Studies in the Age of Chaucer 35(2013), pp. 289-327.

From The Uses of Manuscripts in Literary Studies, ed. Charlotte Cook Morse, Penelope Doob & Marjory Woods (Studies in Medieval Culture 31, 1992): Martin Irvine, “‘Bothe Text and Gloss’: Manuscript Form, the Textuality of Commentary, and Chaucer’s Dream Poems” pp. 81-120; Christopher Baswell, “Talking Back to the Text: Marginal Voices in Medieval Secular Literature” pp. 121-160; Josepheine Koster-Tarvers, “‘Thys ys my mystrys boke’: English Women as Readers and Writers in Late Medieval England” pp. 305-328.

Mary C. Erler, Women, Reading, and Piety in Late Medieval England. (Cambridge UP, 2002)

Elizabeth L. Einstein, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change (Cambridge UP, 1979), pp. 3-43 (chapter one)


Reading toward my essay on Emare:

Anderson, Sarah M. and Swenson, Karen. Cold Counsel: Women in Old Norse Literature and Mythology. New York: Routledge, 2002. Print.

Ashton, Gail. “Her Father’s Daughter: the Realignment of Father-Daughter Kinship in Three Romance Tales.” The Chaucer Review, Vol. 34, no. 4 (2000), pp. 416-427. JSTOR. 20/12/2013. Web.

Broadwell, Nancy Elizabeth. “Women in Exile in Medieval Hagiography and Romance.” Dissertation Abstracts International, Section A: The Humanities and Social Sciences, 2004 Apr; 64 (10): 3678-79. U of Pennsylvania, 2003. Web. 12 March 2014.

Cordery, Leona F. “A Medieval Interpretation of Risk: How Christian Women Deal with Adversity as Portrayed in the Man of Law’s Tale, Emaré.” The Self at Risk in English Literatures and Other Landscapes/Das Risiko Selbst in der englischsprachigen Literatur und in anderen Bereichen. Innsbruck. Gudrun M. Grabher and Sonja Bahn-Coblans, eds. Austria: Institut für Sprachwissenschaft, Universität Innsbruck; 1999. Pp. 177-185. Web. 12 March 2014.

Greenfield, Stanley B. Hero and Exile. London and Ronceverte: The Hambledon Press, 1989. Print.

Grettir’s Saga. Trans. Denton Fox & Hermann Pàlsson. Toronto: Toronto UP, 1974. Print.

Hopkins, Amanda. “Veiling the Text: The True Role of the Cloth in Emaré.” Medieval Insular Romance: Translation and Innovation. Judith Weiss, Jennifer Fellows, and Morgan Dickson, eds. Cambridge, England: Brewer; 2000. Pp. 71-82. Print.

Jochens, Jenny. Women in Old Norse Society. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1995. Print.

Laskaya, Anne. “The Rhetoric of Incest in the Middle English Emaré.” Violence against Women in Medieval Texts. Anna Roberts, Ed. Gainesville: Florida UP, 1998. Pp. 97-114. Print.

Laskaya, Anne and Salisbury, Eve. The Middle English Breton Lays. Anne Laskaya and Eve Salisbury, eds. Kalamazoo: TEAMS, 2001. Print.

Njal’s Saga. Trans. Robert Cook. New York: Penguin Books, 2001. Print/

Sklar, Elizabeth. “Stuffed with Ymagerye: Emaré’s Robe and the Construction of Desire.” Medieval Perspectives. 2007 (2011) 22: pp. 145-159. Print.

“Wanderer”. Old and Middle English c. 890-c. 1400, An Anthology. Second Edition. Elaine Treharne, Ed. Malden: Blackwell Publishing, 2004. Pp. 42-47. Print.

Reading toward my essay on feast imagery in mystic and devotional texts:

Finnegan, Mary Jeremy. The Women of Helfta: Scholars and Mystics. Athens: Georgia UP,1991. Print.

Leff, Gordon. The Dissolution of the Mediaeval Outlook. New York: New York UP, 1976. Print.

Love, Nicholas. The Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesus Christ. Ed. Michael G. Sargent. New York: Garland Publishing, 1992. Print.

Middle-English Versions of Partonope of Blois. Ed. A. Trampe Bödtker. EETS ES 109. London: Early English Text Society, 1912. Print.

Newman, Barbara. “What Did It Mean To Say ‘I Saw’? The Clash Between Theory and Practice in Medieval Visionary Culture. Speculum 80 (2005): pp. 1-43. JSTOR. 10 March 2014. Web.

Reading toward my essay on images of women in Books of Hours:

Carruthers, Mary. “Ars oblivionalis, ars inveniendi: The Cherub Figure and the Arts of Memory” in Gesta 48.2 (2009), pp. 1-20. Web. 26 April 2014.

Duffy, Eamon. Marking the Hours: English People and Their Prayers. New Haven: Yale UP, 2006. Print.

Heures de Margeurite d’Orléans. Facsimile edition with introduction and notes by Eberhard König. Paris: Les Editions du Cerf, 1991. Print.

Hindman, Sandra. “Books of Hours: State of the Research.” Books of Hours Reconsidered. Sandra Hindman and James H. Marrow, Eds. London: Harvey Miller Publishers, 2013. Pp. 5-16. Print.

Hours of Catherine of Clèves. Facsimile edition with introduction and notes by John Plummer. New York: George Braziller Company, 1966. Print.

Master of Mary of Burgundy: A Book of Hours for Engelbert of Nassau. Facsimile edition with introduction and legends by J.J.G. Alexander. New York: George Braziller Publishers,1970. Print.

Scott-Stokes, Charity, trans. Women’s Books of Hours in Medieval England: Selected Texts. Suffolk: D.S. Brewer, 2006. Print.

Smith, Kathryn A. Art, Identity, and Devotion in Fourteenth-Century England: Three Women and their Books of Hours. London: The British Library, 2003. Print.

The Très Riches Heures of Jean, Duke of Berry. Facsimile edition with introduction and legend by Jean Lognon and Raymond Cazelles. New York: George Braziller Publishers, 1989. Print.

Reading toward my presentation on Melusine:

Donald Maddox & Sara Sturm-Maddox, Melusine of Lusignan: Founding Fiction in Late Medieval France (Georgia UP, 1996)

Jean D’Arras, Melusine: Or the Noble History of Lusignan ((Penn State UP, 2012)

Jean D’Arras, Melusine Part I, ed. Alexander Karley Donald (NY: Krauss Reprint Co., 1973)

Clier-Colombani, Francoise, La Fee Melusine au Moyen Age: Images, Mythes, Symboles. Paris: Leopard d’Or, 1991.

Markale, Jean. Melusine, Ou, l’Androgyne. Paris: Editions Retz, 1983.

Scholtz Williams, Gerhild. “Magic and the Myth of Trasngression: Melusine of Lusignan by Jean d’Arras (1393),” in Defining Dominion: The Discourses of Magic and Witchcraft in Early Modern France and Germany. Ann Arbor, Michigan UP, 1999. Pp. 21-45.


Drafted several more pages towards each of my three term essays

Wrote 2 more pages for my IMC/Kalamazoo presentation

Finalized the Introduction and my chapter on writing essays for our textbook


English 101 -On Tuesday they workshopped the critical rationales for their final portfolios and filled out the student course evaluations. Thursday was canceled for individual conferences. During this second set of individual conferences I meet with each student for 15 minutes to discuss their progress in the class, any concerns they have going into the final portfolio, and what they have so far in terms of their portfolios.

English 104 – On Tuesday, I gave introductory lecture notes on comic and graphic novel theory and we began our work with Fullmetal Alchemist; we had individual student-led discussions for the second half of the class period. Their final research essays were due on Thursday, and then we continued our discussion of Fullmetal Alchemist, focusing on the presentation of alchemy and transformation as well as the characterization of the alchemists and of the deadly sins. One of my students gave a wonderful comparison between Chaucer’s Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale, which we read earlier in the term, and FMA in terms of the presentation of the sins and sinning. I am really pleased with how much the students in this class overall have managed to retain in terms of knowledge of the texts we’ve read from one week to the next–this is, to my mind, one of the great benefits of structuring a class around a theme or set of themes: the students constantly circle back to earlier texts in order to make sense of newer ones, based on their use of the theme in question. I find that it really makes for richer thinking and better information retention across the board, although you can run into the risk of students lumping things together without being discerning or critical about it–which is your job as the instructor to help them navigate.


Every spare minute I had this week was devoted to editing Lenses.The full draft was due on Wednesday, April 23. The book ended up being twice as long as the first edition, and we actually received the final drafts of the last two pieces only this week, which meant editing about 30 pages we had not yet seen in addition to trying to cut the total word count of the volume down to our allotment. Also, our faculty supervisor had a problem with some of the thinking in one of the theoretical chapters, which required its being sent back for more revision despite that we had already approved and finalized it and told the writer that we loved it and he was done. Much metaphoric hair-pulling ensued. We also had not yet compiled the full anthology at this point, so a lot of time and energy was spent trying to decide which texts to include in the final version.

Tuesday afternoon I attended the final GSA executive bard meeting of the year, where we reviewed the candidates for the new board and our work this year–we accomplished a lot!

Wednesday afternoon we met with our faculty supervisor for Lenses to go over progress to date and handle questions and concerns going into the final round of edits. He did congratulate us on a job ell done and express approval and pleasure at our hard work, which was gratifying considering what a hairy space we had been in over the past two weeks getting it all together.

Nurturing my Self:

It was a rough week personally, not only because I had so much work to do, but also because cumulatively the two weeks prior had also been difficult (“April is the cruelest month…”). I managed to get a short run in on Monday and some stretching on Thursday, but otherwise no physical activity beyond the walking to-and-from the parking lot. I ate like a teenager–taco salads, pizza, french fries–and drank way too much coffee. Worst of all, I had this recurring nightmare–every night, the same dream: My dissertation advisor calls me on my cell phone and leaves a message that she needs to see me, right now, no matter what I’m doing. I tell the student I’m in the middle of conferencing with, “I’m sorry, I have to leave right now, my advisor wants to see me” and walk down the hall. I knock on her door, and she answers in a deadly, quiet voice: “Come in and close the door behind you.” I do so, and turn around, and she is standing behind her desk looking at me with the most disappointed look anyone ever gave me. Tears are leaking down her face and dripping onto the papers on the desk in front of her, one at a time. She informs me that I am the greatest disappointment of her professional life. I have plagiarized both of the final papers I wrote for her, and I have to leave the program immediately–right now–taking nothing with me, and forget about Academia forever. Seriously, y’all–I’ve never had anxiety dreams like this before! It was TERRIBLE. Every night, I woke up sweating bullets and freaking out and rushing to the computer to double-check that I had, in fact, accurately cited everything. (This, incidentally, did not endear me to my trying-to-sleep husband; nor did it help with my already-reduced sleep schedule this week.)

On the plus side, at the end of the week, I headed off to Williamsburg to spend the day at Busch Gardens with my sister–because there’s nothing like a roller coaster ride or twenty to soothe the spirit.


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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