The Week In Review, October 19-25(26), 2015


“Histories of Contexts: Form, Argument, and Ideology in A Gest of Robyn Hode Alex Kaufman, in British Outlaws of Literature and History, ed. Alex Kaufman (McFarland, 2011)
“Playing With Food: Medieval Manners and Unruly Behavior in the Domestic Space of Outlaw Tales,” unpublished paper by Alex Kaufman
“The Gest of Robyn Hode: Introduction” by Stephen Knight and Thomas Ohlgren (TEAMS, 2000)
The Gest of Robyn Hode, eds. Stephen Knight and Thomas Ohlgren (TEAMS 2000)
Jess Bessinger, “The Gest of Robyn Hode Revisited” in The Learned and the Lewed, ed. Larry Benson (Harvard UP, 1974)
Outlaws of Medieval Legend, by Maurice Keen (Oxford, 1987)
Total time spent on research this week: 3 hours


Completed conference paper (3,150 words)

Total time spent writing this week: 3 hours


College Writing I: On Monday, we discussed visual rhetorical analysis, focusing on image and clothing. The students continued their discussion online through the week, as I was at a conference Wednesday and Friday. They are also working on their third essay drafts and creating their multimodal essays this week.

Literature and the Arts: Monday–Working on Henry VI, Part I. I had the students choose a scene to stage in their working groups–they didn’t have to memorize, they didn’t have to get fancy (although some groups had fairly elaborate props and even sound effects thanks to their Smartphones!)–I just wanted to see how they worked through thinking about how to stage a scene. They did a fantastic job with this assignment! The students continued discussing the play in online discussion groups and on Twitter for the rest of the week, as I was at a conference on Wednesday and Friday. Two of my students attended the American Shakespeare Center production of Henry VI Part I and reported back that it was amazing and “everyone in the class should go!” It’s always fantastic when they are able to go beyond the classroom with the materials we are working on, and we are so fortunate to have the ASC close enough for them to take advantage of the opportunity!

Total time spent on teaching this week (reading, lesson planning, office hours, and instruction): 6 hours


GSA office hours on Monday.

Total time spent on service this week: 1 hour

Other Scholarly Activity

Conference Activity: This week was the annual meeting of the Southeastern Medieval Association, so from Thursday through Sunday I was in Little Rock, Arkansas with 204 medievalists from throughout the southeastern region. I am pleased to report that during my last executive board meeting as the graduate student representative of the executive board of SEMA we voted to offer travel grants to graduate students presenting a paper at the conference, and thanks to the quick thinking of a colleague on the board we are also going to offer contingent faculty travel grants as well. I am so pleased to have been part of such a supportive executive team, and to have rotated off the board knowing that I have done what I can to improve graduate student experiences with our conference.

Beyond this, I chaired the “New to the Profession” roundtable on teaching medieval studies in the 21st century classroom, which was a lively and dynamic session that was well-attended and really could have gone on all day, and gave a paper on conduct and character at the feast in the Gest of Robyn Hood. Although our session was at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, it was well-attended and I got some very useful feedback on the paper, which stems from my dissertation research.

Between sessions and during meals, I participated in a number of enriching conversatons about teaching, advising, and conducting research, one of which has resulted in a preliminary call for interested parties to participate in a roundtable discussion about advising humanities graduate students. Although as with any big event there were a few hiccups, overall it was, as SEMA tends to be, a rich, generous, intellectually-stimulating and just plain fun conference experience.

I also contacted contributors to Hortulus with their reader’s reports and publishing decisions, and now we’re in the editing process full steam ahead!

Total time spent on Other Scholarly Activity this week: 3 days, 8:00 a.m.-10:00-ish p.m., plus 1 hour of emails.

And now, for the really exciting news…….

Publishing Activity

I am delighted to report that my co-editors Misty Urban and Deva Kemmis and I have entered into a contract with Brill’s Explorations in Medieval Culture series (series editor, Dr. Larissa “Kat” Tracy) to publish our collection of essays, Melusine’s Footprint: Tracing the Legacy of a Medieval Myth. We have eighteen wonderful contributors, writing on the Melusine figure in the French, English, German, Dutch, Belgian, and Chinese traditions, and it’s shaping up to be a really exciting and important project!

But wait…that’s not all! I also (finally!) received the published MLA Approaches to Teaching Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and Other Works volume to which I contributed one of my earliest academic essays (I finished correcting page proofs in 2010….) It was well worth the wait, however, as MLA sent us each both a hardback and a paperback copy of the book, which is filled with incredibly rich support material for teachers in high school and college and university settings. Here is “the Precious”:

Tolkien 3 Tolkien 2 Tolkien 1

I am certain this will be a wonderful resource for teachers at all levels for many years to come, and I’m proud to have been part of this project.

Nurturing My Self

I am still nursing that pesky cough, grumblegrumblegrumble. However, this week I spent most of Wednesday resting and packing instead of trying to do too much before leaving for the conference, and I set some very important and necessary boundaries with myself in terms of how much time and energy to invest in any given work-related situation, because I’ve realized that I tend to contribute far more than I need to in terms of time and energy to endeavors that often fizzle out rather than leading to anything productive, and that time and energy needs to go into my scholarship (and the job market….) I took the opportunity of SEMA to spend time with good friends I’ve made over the years and rarely get to see, and so all in all this was a successful week for me in terms of nurturing myself.

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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