The Week in Review, November 9-15, 2015


Thomas Ohlgren and Lister Matheson, Early Rymes of Robyn Hood (ACMRS 2013)

Thomas Ohlgren and Stephen Knight, Robin Hood and Other Outlaw Tales (TEAMS 2000)

Rosemary Horrox and W. Mark Ormrod, A Social History of England, 1200-1500 (Cambridge 2006)

John Scattergood, “The Tale of Gamelyn: The Noble Robber as Provincial Hero.” Readings in Medieval English Romance. Ed. Carole Meale. (D.S. Brewer, 1994). Pp. 159-194.

Richard Kaeuper, “An Historian’s Reading of The Tale of Gamelyn.” Medium Aevum 52 (1983):pp. 51-62.

Total time spent in research this week: 10 hours



Continued working on dissertation, chapter 4 (5,500 words)

Revised and reformatted article for publication

Total Writing Time This Week: 18 hours


College Writing I: Part of the portfolio requirement for this course is substantial revision of essays above and beyond the graded version. To facilitate this, I build a substantial revision activity into the course by asking the students to choose one of their essays and turn it into a multimodal version incorporating at least 3 different modes. This week, students shared theit multimodal versions with the class in short presentations on Monday and Wednesday. On Friday, they peer-reviewed their critical rationales. I also graded and returned their final essays for the course.

Literature and the Arts: We luxuriated all week in lush discussions of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit as a synthesis of the medieval works we’ve read all term. In student-led discussions, they explored among other weighty topics the ring as addiction and the idea of the dwarves as displaced persons/ Jews seeking to return to their homeland. I could not be prouder of their work in this class–it has been a richly rewarding teaching experience. Ne!xt week the working groups present their projects, and I cannot wait to see what they do–I am sure it will be well above and beyond my expectations. I also started grading their critical examinations, which so far are excellent as well.

Total time spent on teaching this week (including grading 22 essays and 10 critical examinations, teaching, office hours, and prepping discussion): 31 hours


This week’s service consisted of sitting GSA office hours and responding to email, a TA advisory council meeting, and a student leader meeting, plus an individual conference with a student concerned about an upcoming assignment.

Total time spent on service this week: 6 hours

Other Scholarly Activity

On Friday I attended our department’s job search workshop on interview advice, which was invaluable and made me feel much more confident going into this interviewing season. We are very lucky that our department focuses heavily on graduate student needs. There is a dedicated faculty committee for job searches, and they offer workshops on CV and cover letter writing as well as this workshop offering advice on interviewing and mock interviews. We are well-supported, and it makes a huge difference both in our preparedness for the job market, and in our morale. I have heard from so many graduate students at other institutions that such efforts are not made on their behalf, that I do not take this for granted, and I am so glad I chose a department that genuinely cares about graduate student professionalization and placement.

Job search: Sent requested materials to two institutions; implicit rejection from a third.

Scholarship: scanned and created PDFs of a number of book chapters to add to my dissertation archive.

Total time spent on Other Scholarly Activity this week: 8 hours

PLEASE NOTICE THAT THAT ADDS UP TO OVER SEVENTY HOURS OF WORK THIS WEEK. This is why academics hate to hear other people say they have it so easy, they only teach a few hours a week, and so on and so forth. For every week where you log only 25-30 or so hours there are several like this one has been for me; where, thanks to a large grading load or extra service or academic duties, the hours jump into truly alarming overtime. There is a fairly predictable pattern, with these wildly busy weeks tending to cluster, 2-3 at a time, towards the end of each academic term, no matter how carefully you plan or schedule yourself.  The erratic nature of the workload is something anyone planning to go into academia as a career needs to be aware of: there WILL be weeks of 50, 60, 70 hours of work. Be forewarned and prepared, and try to limit social engagements during the last month of an academic term; saying “yes” to a holiday potluck or two, or an outing to a performance, is fine–but if you fill your social calendar during the last weeks of the term, especially with events that require you to make or bring or buy things, you’re going to struggle heavily to get through everything required of you.

Nurturing My Self

One long run and two workouts this week. On Friday, I met with a colleague for pints and catching up, and on Saturday I got to spend the entire day in Staunton at the American Shakespeare Center, where I caught the matinee of Winter’s Tale and the evening performance of Joan of Arc (both of which were excellent performances, the Winter’s Tale perhaps a bit better than JofA; Paulina was superb.) I caught up with a friend of mine who works at the ASC and a fellow medievalist who teaches at JMU, and it was completely worth the 3.5 hour drive and 2 a.m. return time home. Sometimes leaving behind all of your responsibilities and just doing something for the pure enjoyment of it is the best possible response. I definitely feel recharged and ready to launch into what will be the busiest week of the term next week (stay tuned for that Week in Review, it’s a doozy!) Then on Sunday, to round out a very busy but personally and professionally satisfying week, I had coffee with a friend who presented me with sound job market advice and a care package to see me through. Never underestimate the importance of such encounters–they keep you feeling hopeful and grounded at a time when it does seem as though your entire life is up in the air. In fact, it can seem at times rather like this scene from the Winter’s Tale:




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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