September 2017

Can vice-chancellors ever really know what it’s like for emerging researchers and precariat postdocs? I was reading two vice-chancellors discuss how to take pressure off young academics the other week and it made me increasingly ragey. Set-ups like this are doomed in many ways because you’re asking people with incredible privilege and a fair whack […]

via Nowhere to hide — The Research Whisperer

There are several points in this excellent post by Tseen Khoo that I’d like to echo – the assumption that all ECRs are ‘young’, for a start, and that they all can and should be mobile – see my posts on contemplating the future and transitioning out of academia from several years ago.

During the summer, we went to Rufford Old Hall‘s family fun day, where we had a go at archery and visited our friends at the North West Reptile Club (someday I hope to be able to take Dave along).

To be honest, I wasn’t going to bother going round the house this time, as we have been so often before and there was plenty to keep us occupied outside, but someone pointed out that the Tudor Great Hall was being restored, with its concrete and brick being replaced with traditional wattle and daub, so we had to have a look at that.

IMG_20170821_150939262This is the second of two short posts about my summer holiday in France, only this time it’s not really about anything historical.  I was just blown away by Le Grand Éléphant at Les Machines de l’Île in Nantes.  Unfortunately, we arrived too late in the day to have a look round the workshop, but we got a good look at the elephant, the carousel and the prototype branch of the Arbre aux Hérons.  If we go back to the Loire in a couple of years, this will be top of our ‘to-do’ list!



Spotted this!  It’s exciting to see it on the web…

Since my children returned to school the push has been on to complete the final stages of my book manuscript.  It’s due to go to the publisher at the end of September, so I’ve been doing all the tedious things that come with completion.  Things like making sure all the images that I am using were sorted out.  Unfortunately, I my application for a grant to pay for several broadside images was declined, so I’ve had to think very carefully about what I was going to use as illustrations.  I couldn’t afford to self-fund as many broadside images as I would have used if I’d been given a grant, because as well as the cost of paying for high quality digital images, there is the payment of permissions to consider.  So I’ve settled on two high quality images of broadsides from the British Library, one of which illustrates my first major case study about the production of broadside ballads and the other is the first English broadside ballad to appear with music. On the plus side, the fact that there won’t be so many bought-in images means that I can concentrate on scores. I’ve always wanted to include as many musical examples as possible, so I’ve been able to use those extra images to provide settings of several more ballads, including a couple of conjectural settings.  These show that some of the broadsides which look like ballads but don’t include a tune direction could easily have been sung.

There are other tedious things that I’ve been doing.  I’ve had to check that all the entries in the footnotes and bibliography are consistent; that spellings which aren’t uniform in the period are nevertheless uniform in the book text; that the spacing between paragraphs and quotations is correct; and even things as simple as renaminng image files with their figure numbers.

Then I reached a bit of a dead end.  I could continue to tinker with the text, because it’s there and it’s easy to do.  But I’m not convinced that it’s getting any better!  I can’t send it off to the publisher yet, because I’m waiting for a friend to read through the whole text and get back to me with any howlers, typos, repetition, ugly prose, confusing bits – all the sorts of things that when you’ve been working on the same text for several years, you can no longer see!  So I’ve put it to one side and I’m looking at a couple of other things, and there will be more on those later.

It’s always nice to get an email that shows that there are actually people out there who read my blog when they come across it, and yesterday afternoon I received a message from someone at Artsy,  who wondered if I could help them to promote their Edvard Munch pages.  Now I’ve said before that I don’t know a lot about art, but from what I can gather, part of Artsy’s mission is to promote the understanding of art and artists; and besides, in the spirit of widening participation, I thought I’d do what I could to help.  After all, I do have a bit of a soft spot for Munch.

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is currently exhibiting Edvard Munch: Between the Clock and the Bed, which showcases Edvard Munch. This show will then travel to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in November. If only I could be there!


IMG_20170816_111846510_HDRThis is the first of two posts about my summer holiday in the Loire Valley.  It’s a long time since I’ve been to France, so I wanted to see a bit of the countryside and the culture as well as the place where we stayed.  We had a couple of day trips to Nantes, which has some very beautiful buildings and a good public transport system to access them.  We got off the tram at the Chateau d’Anne de Bretagne, one of the chateaux for which the Loire is famous.

Built between the 15th and 18th centuries, work on the castle was begun by the last Duke of Brittany, Francis II, but was continued by his daughter, Anne, who was twice queen of France.  It is a beautiful place, as you can see, but one of the things that was particularly nice about it was that you could walk round the grounds, but also round the walls, for free.  There is even a slide down the outside of the ramparts, and there are turtles in the moat!

By coincidence, this summer the chateau has been hosting an exhibition of pre-hispanic Colombian artefacts, called ‘The Spirits, Gold and the Shaman’. There were many lovely pieces, such as the ornaments of birds with separate feathers, but I was most impressed with the delicate filigree on items that were hundreds of years old!

Walking up to the castle, it looked strangely familiar.  When I got home and checked, I visited the castle on a school trip 20 years ago…