September 2012


Interesting, although I’m not sure myself about the usefulness of twitter. Perhaps I just don’t use it enough, and I’m fairly confident that I don’t know how to make the most of it, but I have yet to work out how anyone has the time to folllow what everyone’s saying and filter the usefulness from the dross. That said, I’m sure I don’t use the blog to its full potential either. I’m getting on a bit as far as all this new-fangled technological stuff goes! Just call me granny….

sophiecoulombeau

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness! It’s that time of year again. The air is crisp, the leaves are falling and York is suddenly thronged with freshers, both undergrads and postgrads – some bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, others clearly already suffering from the first of many appalling hangovers. I arrived here in York exactly two years ago (almost to the day). I remember my sense of wonder at the city itself – the fresh air after the smog of London, the glorious jumble of architecture ranging from the medieval to the kitsch, the buzz of the bars, the smell of warm chocolate from the Nestle factory – and this late September weather always rekindles in me that glorious sense of discovery, possession and potential that makes York such a very special place to live. But I also remember feeling terrified – that I’d left everything I knew to move to a…

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This week has been an interesting mix.  On Monday I sent my article to my supervisor, and I searched all sorts of new source material on EEBO.  Well, when I say new, obviously I mean 450 years old, but neverthless, most of them are new to me.  So I have a long list of downloaded citations in Endnote, but I have to skim through them now to see what is actually going to be useful.   So I started on that, but I have still got a way to go.

On Tuesday I had my first singing lesson since before I fell down the stairs in May.  I can’t say it went brilliantly, as I’ve developed one or two strange habits over the summer.  Also, I’ve misplaced my Vaccai studies and Handel’s Messiah, which are two things I’m working on and although I know they’re here somewhere, I’m not entirely sure where.  And if you wonder why, it’s probably best to look at my Bookends post!  My books are still rather mixed up.

Wednesday saw me checking through more of the EEBO citations, and then downloading various articles on ballads.  I spent Thursday morning reading some of the ones on the musicology of early modern ballads, some of which are nearly 100 years old themselves!  Friday started a bit pear-shaped, as I was feeling rather snowed under.  The children had been very hard work during the morning and by the time I’d got them to school I didn’t know where to start. I had a long list of thinds that needed doing and I just didn’t know where to begin.  I find that having the children affects me that way:  when they’ve been really hard work it upsets me and then I can’t settle or concentrate properly.  Anyway, what I actually did was have a sleep – I was woken two hours later by the telephone so I was obviously very tired and that didn’t help either.  So I made a list.  Then I prioritised.

I started by reading the rest of J.L. Laynesmith’s ‘The Last Medieval Queens’.  Then I read some more of the articles on ballads, although these were mainly the ones on the subjects of the ballads.  I read one wide-ranging survey of all the Spanish Armada ballads, another survey of the subjects of the Child ballads, and another on the treatment of old age in early modern ballads.

I’ve done a lot this week.  It just doesn’t feel like it.

On Wednesday I got back the draft of my article, with a few minor alterations.  Now I have to decide where to send it to try to get it published, and frankly I’ve got no real idea.  I’ve also got a date for my first seminar: 30th October!  I’ve already written it and created a powerpoint for it, but I’ve got to practise it, as the last thing I want is to be reading it from paper.

The plan for next week is to carry on with the reading, and to prepare for the mental gymnastics that I know will be the first meeting with my supervisor this week!

I don’t know if it’s an after-effect of moving house, but I’ve been very lethargic this week.  I’ve done a lot of reading, most of which was on queenship.  At the moment I’m part way through J.L. Laynesmith’s monograph on ‘The Last Medieval Queens’, which I’m reading to give me background on the expected duties and place of queens consort, so that I can compare how queens regnant create or adapt the role.
I’ve also gone back to my work on Saint John Roberts.  I spent a few hours in the library this afternoon trying to tidy it up. While I was there I had a quick look at Glyn Redworth’s latest publication, a two volume edition of the Letters of Luisa de Carvajal y Mendoza, a couple of which I used in my work.  I’ve not finished the article yet, but I hope to get it sorted in the next few days so that I can put it to bed.  I’ve been working on it, on and off, for eighteen months, so it will be good to get it finished finally.

The trouble is, the thing I’ve done most of this week is sleeping.  I can’t stay awake!  Even when I’ve slept from 8pm to 6.15 am, I’ve still fallen asleep during the day.  Something’s not quite right there, and I just hope that the sleepiness wears off ready for a new week of work.

A friend at university shared this article on Facebook:     http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/sep/07/bookshelf-say-about-you although she pointed out that it doesn’t take into account the way people own things that they want people to think that they’ve read.

Guardian Bookshelf Article

Anyway, it got me thinking about my own bookshelf.  Or rather, bookshelves.  Offhand, I can think of 3 bookcases and 3 long bookshelves that are mine, and then there are the children’s, most of the contents of which I have bought.

What does my set of bookshelves say about me?  Mostly that I have a lot of books, but also that I don’t like getting rid of them.  ‘Old friends, old friends…’  No prizes for spotting Paul Simon’s ‘Bookends’.

At the moment, my books aren’t really in any order – the priority when we moved in was just to get them out of boxes and onto shelves, preferably but not exclusively in vaguely the right area!

 

 

 

Anyone who has been following this blog for a while, or who has bothered to go back and look through my archive, will know that this time last year, things weren’t really going according to plan.  I arrived in Manchester to discover that my supervisor was on medical leave, and the university had to find me a new supervisor from outside the university.  But the second best news of the year, a close second to the sale of the Manchester house and the move to the country, is that my original supervisor, Dr Glyn Redworth, has now returned from medical leave, fully recovered, and has agreed to take me on.   So I want to thank him for agreeing to put up with me in the future, and thank Ros Oates at MMU for coping with me for the last twelve months!

It’s ever so nice.  Now that I’ve moved house, I have my own study.   Okay, so it has a futon in it for when people come to stay, but that’s quite handy because it means I can snuggle up with a book when I’m reading.  It’s got enough space to work, and more to the point, I don’t have to put everything away at tea time if I’m in the middle of something.  Even better, it is not on the way to somewhere else like the dining room table was – I can shut myself in and there isn’t any reason for anyone to come and disturb me, unless they want to bring me a cup of tea (well…. a girl can dream!).  So here it is:

My workspace!

On Tuesday morning, the children started their new school, so I went back to work in earnest, trying out my new study (a great success, but more on that another time).  I spent Tuesday reading a couple of books that I needed to take back to the library, and on Wednesday we had another meeting of the writing group, which went well and was interesting.  In order to attend, I had to brave my first commute to Manchester, which wasn’t all that much fun but at least when I leave here at 9am I miss the rush hour!
I’ve spent the last two days re-writing my ballad chapter as two lectures: one a twenty minute seminar paper for the History and Classics Postgrads at Manchester, sometime this autumn; the other a longer lecture aimed at the Historical Association’s Manchester Branch, which will be in January next year.  As I am currently between supervisors, I thought I might as well get them out of the way now, so that I don’t run the risk of having to cram them in when there are other deadlines to meet.
It’s interesting trying to re-write the work for speech.  Trying to maintain the academic standard whilst making it sound reasonable to read aloud is quite a skill.  I don’t want to read the two papers, I’d much rather talk off the cuff, because that’s how teaching works and it’s what I’m used to.  It also comes across much, much better to the audience.  But I can now see why people do.  At the moment, I couldn’t possibly do it without extensive notes.  I just don’t know it well enough.  So I want to really learn it.  Not every word, as then it would sound like reciting a script, but know my stuff well enough to be confident to talk about it without having my head buried in a sheaf of paper.

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