The Week In Review, February 9-15, 2015

I had significantly less service work  on my schedule this week than I did last week, which is a good thing, since I was so behind in drafting for my dissertation.


I spent another day in the Folger stacks, looking at fire narratives (London, 1666 and Northampshire, 1675) and coronation images (Charles II and James II), continuing to work towards the presentation I’ll be giving for the seminar. I also continued to read for my dissertation, this week focusing on questions of hospitality and consulting Thomas Claviez, ed., The Conditions of Hospitality (Fordham University Press, 2013).


I drafted almost 2,000 words in chapter two of my dissertation.


This week we worked on Geoffrey Chaucer’s Legend of Good Women. My students were really interested in exploring how Chaucer writes the women in these legends, and in the question of women’s agency and whether or not they were predestined by their sex to meet their tragic ends. They made some excellent comparisons between how the formel eagle is presented in Parliament of Fowls versus how the women figures in LOGW appear in order to support the claims they wanted to make about female agency in Chaucer’s poems. They were also very interested in theorizing why Chaucer didn’t finish the legends. A lot of very good discussion on both matters!


I collected, reviewed, and disseminated the research travel grant applications to the other GSA officers for review, and notified the recipient of the spring travel grant of her successful application. I held my usual office hours, but nothing above and beyond those normal service duties, for a change!

Other Scholarly Activity

I attended the third session of our Folger seminar on “The Scale of Catastrophe.” in this session we discussed the “Chester play of the Flood,” the “Miller’s Tale,” and questions of anthropocentrism in disaster narratives.

Nurturing My Self

I ran on Monday and Saturday–it’s really hard to fit runs into my weeks these days! I also treated myself to a nice dinner and a glass of wine in the airport on Friday while waiting for my late evening flight. And of course, this weekend was “Chaucer’s Birds Day” and we enjoyed a lovely family meal at our favorite local Irish restaurant on Saturday night as a celebration. Still struggling to find a workable balance between the things I need to do, the things I want to do, and the things already in my schedule that have to be done. This is proving a tricky thing to navigate! When you no longer have built-in time (such as seminars, for instance) for thinking and research, it is much harder to carve out that time for yourself. I think this is one of the big lessons post-comps–how to privilege and protect your research and writing time and still meet your other obligations. I’ll get there eventually (I hope!)


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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2 Responses to The Week In Review, February 9-15, 2015

  1. Lucy Mackintosh says:

    Thanks for the post, Melissa. As a mature full-time PhD student juggling study, family life, contract work and exercise, I find your posts very inspiring (although I still don’t know how you managed to write 2000 words in amongst it all this week!).

    • Melissa Ridley Elmes says:

      Dear Lucy, I’m so glad you find my posts helpful and inspiring! As to the 2,000 words, I have been successful up to this point in setting aside Tuesdays as dedicated dissertation days, so this week I was at a spot where I didn’t need to do as much research and was able to devote the full 6 hours I worked to drafting–and bear in mind, this is definitely drafting! When it comes to revising, rewriting, editing, and polishing, I’ll be lucky to get through a page or two!

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