December 2013

I’ve been rather unpredictable in my blog posts lately, mainly because I used to write them on Friday evenings as a review of what I’d done during the ‘normal working week’ (Show me a scholar who works a normal working week?  No? No, me neither…), but since the summer the whole family has been going to choir practice on a Friday evening.  That has thrown out my blogging routine completely and it has yet to settle in to a new one.  My child-free time (the school day) is so precious for work that I’m loathe to use it to write the blog.

Anyway, the other reason that I haven’t given many reports on what I’ve been doing lately is because I haven’t been doing all that much work.  It doesn’t seem all that interesting to report that I’ve read a few books.  I finally finished Steve Hindle’s The State and Social Change in Early Modern England.  I started on it before I had my nasty infection, which finally forced me to take a day or two off to recover, then I finished off and submitted the article I’d been writing.  When I went back to work I started reading Ethan Shagan on Popular Politics and the English Reformation.  My supervisor asked me what I thought about the Hindle monograph, I confidently gave a reply, he asked if I’d finished reading it, I said ‘yes’ and then as the conversation progressed I began to doubt myself…  When I hung up the phone, I went and picked the book up and, sure enough, I was only half way through.   So that put the wind up me.  I genuinely thought I’d finished it.  I had finished it by the end of the next day!

I catalogued 50 more ballads.

I organised another research trip to the British Library for January.

I had yet another telephone conversation about the abandoned common weal chapter, another ‘wobble’.   It was a conversation with my husband that gave me the starting point that sent me running to my study to grab a notebook and start scribbling ideas.  He unwittingly found me the angle I’ve been missing for the last 2 months and I filled a couple of pages with scribblings about how to turn the disparate ideas into something resembling a chapter.  I then had only a few days before the children finished school for Christmas in which to get started.  I decided to write a plan for the chapter and develop it from there.  So at the moment I have a file on my computer called ‘Developed Chapter Plan’ which lists in order all the points I want to make.  It includes a chunk of writing I’d already done on some manuscript miscellanies and several useful primary and secondary quotations that I’d already come across.  My intention is for the chapter to grow from the plan.

So then the break for Christmas.  Father Christmas brought me a large stack of books.  Alexandra Walsham on Church Papists, Hiram Morgan on Tyrone’s Rebellion, Landlords and Tenants in Britain, a book on the Aztecs and one on Mindfulness.  Plenty of reading material there for the new year.

▶ Reno erat Rudolphus by eyolfos.

I will get back to my blog properly by the end of the week, I promise.  But in the meantime, this appealed to my sense of fun.  The strangest stuff turns up on Facebook.  Earlier in the week one of my friends posted a video of a group of ‘silent monks’ performing the Hallelujah chorus from Handel’s Messiah; a couple of weeks ago I was treated to the spectacle of Jean-Luc Picard performing ‘Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow’; and this morning, I was presented with Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer in Latin plainchant.  Never take things too seriously!

DSCF2851I’ve been trying to fight off this cold for nearly two weeks, but it’s finally floored me.  I’ve been given antibiotics for an upper respiratory tract infection, having spent yesterday shivering under two duvets.  On Tuesday I finally submitted my epitaph ballad article, so fingers crossed.  I’m pleased with it, but I’m under no illusions that it’s likely to be accepted for publication.  Then on Wednesday I started redrafting my chapter plan, but I didn’t manage to get through it before the cold got me.  Thursday and Friday I spent snuffling and reading, snuggled up in bed but unable to get warm.  I’ve finished Bush’s Government Policy of Protector Somerset and I’m half way through Steve Hindle’s the State and Social Change.

But it has to be said that half my mind is now on Christmas, as it’s coming up to the couple of weeks where work gets put to one side on a regular basis to see my children’s school plays and concerts, do Christmas shopping and sing carols.  Today I dosed myself up with every painkiller and decongestant going and we took the children to Martin Mere to see Father Christmas, which was lovely.  It was nice to see all the visiting migrant birds and today, even the otters were out.  Then we decorated the tree and the house when we got back this afternoon.  DSCF2820DSCF2816DSCF2835












































Pizzas (thank '64 Zoo Lane' for that)

Pizzas (thank ’64 Zoo Lane’ for that)

Last week I was delighted to give two seminar papers on the political messages of sixteenth century ballads. The first was at the History Postgraduate Seminar Series at the University of Manchester; the second at the North West Early Modern Seminar, which took place at Lancaster University (a write up of the Lancaster event is below). I thoroughly enjoyed both occasions and what’s more, I received some really useful feedback.

North West Early Modern Seminar


Our 5 minute “speed-daters”. From left to right: Naomi Tadmor who chaired the event, Michael Smith (University of Manchester), Sarah Ann Robin (Lancaster University), Naya Tsentourou (Lancaster University), Stephen Pumfrey (Lancaster University) and Helen Davies (Lancaster University).



Jennifer Hyde, (University of Manchester), delivering her paper ‘Kowingness and the Mid-Sixteenth Century English Ballad’.


Liz Oakley-Brown, (Lancaster University), speaking on ‘Thomas Churchyard’s Tudor Sensibilities’.

On November 27th Lancaster University hosted the North West Early Modern Seminar. The event started with our “speed-daters” who provided captivating 5 minute introductions to their research. 

Sarah Ann Robin, (Lancaster University) – Love and the Object in the Seventeenth-Century

Michael Smith, (University of Manchester) – Matthew Henry: Faith, Body and Emotions

Naya Tsentourou, (Lancaster University) – The Groaning Body in Early Modern Texts 

Helen Davies, (Lancaster University) – Materializing Disability in Tudor Literature

Stephen Pumfrey, (Lancaster University) – How Corpus Linguistic Methods can Trump Traditional Scholarship

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