The Week In Review: January 26-31, 2015

Hello, Blogland and Interwebs! Here’s the deal: I’ve decided to re-instate “The Week In Review” series of posts even though I’m no longer in classwork. There are a couple of reasons for this decision. First, as I mentioned in a recent post, it’s much harder to calculate your productivity when you don’t see tangible evidence of it in the form of presentations and seminar papers being written, so this gives me a chance to write down what I’m doing and (hopefully!) see progress being made. The flip side is that writing it down and posting it publicly will also (hopefully) keep me feeling accountable and making good progress in my research and writing. And second, I think this sort of murky, unstructured independent working time is precisely the part of the degree work that is hardest to envision, prepare for, and get through, so documenting what happens in this period of the degree might well be more valuable to readers thinking about graduate school or still in coursework.

SO, without further ado, here’s last week in review!


Almost all of my research right now is centered on my dissertation and a tangentially-related project for the Folger Seminar I’m taking this spring (posts on that forthcoming!) This week, for my dissertation I hunted down about twenty titles I need to consult, and read several chapters in Michael Enright’s Lady With a Mead Cup and Lori Ann Garner’s Structuring Spaces, which are helping me think about my first chapter in pointing out the relationship between the Anglo-Saxon hall and Comitatus ideals. Garner views that relationship as being encoded in the architectural spaces of Anglo-Saxon poetics, and this in particular is important in helping to set up my own arguments about those spaces in relation to the feasts and feasting that occur in them. For the Folger project, I located early modern images of feasting using Luna (the images database of the Folger.) What I want to do, is to juxtapose these early modern feast scenes with medieval counterparts, and then contrast these celebratory, joyful images against images of catastrophe from the same time periods, to see how these medieval and early modern artists envisioned and conveyed to an audience both joyful and disastrous events.


I completed the first draft of an application letter for a fellowship I’m hoping to obtain, finished edits on an article draft and sent it to my adviser for comments, and finished the final edits on my dissertation prospectus.


Two sections of English 106, Introduction to Poetry this term. I’ve themed the course “Dreamers, Dreams, and Dreaming” and so far it’s going really well. This week we had our library research orientation session, and I lectured on the Middle English Dream Vision and Geoffrey Chaucer’s “Parliament of Fowls” and showed the students how to create a WordPress site for their online Commonplace Book/Dream Journals.


I attended the Provost’s Student Advisory Committee meeting and the English Department’s faculty meeting as a graduate student representative, and attended the Writing Program’s TA advisory committee meeting, for a total of three hours of meetings. I also held 2 office hours as the Vice President of Finance for the Graduate Student Association and prepared the budget report and financial notes for the GSA General Assembly.

Other Scholarly Activity

This term, I have the very good fortune to be attending the Folger Seminar on “The Scale of Catastrophe” being conducted by Dr. Jeffrey Jerome Cohen of the George Washington University. We met for our first session this week and it was a truly marvelous experience, about which I will post separately.

Nurturing My Self

By way of exercise, I managed to squeeze in a short run on Monday and Tuesday, and of course I walked a lot once I got into Washington, DC. I’m counting hauling my bags as weightlifting as well!

I also took advantage of being in DC for the seminar first, to go out for drinks after our session to get to know my colleagues a little better, and then to meet some friends from the Society of Medieval Scholarship for dinner in Chinatown.

I might want to think about limiting how many Girl Scout cookies I eat, though. There’s a fine line between nurturing myself with a few Caramel Delights and gorging myself on the whole box!


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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