Very pertinent advice

Pertinent advice for early-career researchers, delivered on the basis of the circus that was my application-submitting over the last couple of days:

If you have something accepted for publication by a journal – such as a an article or review – make sure to:

1. Remember that you wrote it, and it was accepted

2. Obtain a copy

3. Write it down somewhere, such as in your CV

4. Remember its existence more than 48 hours before the application deadlines for scholarships, postgraduate programs, etc.

Why, yes, I did manage to have a review published in a peer-review journal and completely forget about it, and spend some time wondering if my not having published ANYTHING AT ALL would impede my scholarship chances, and so on. I let my membership lapse with the Australian Early Medieval Association, so I didn’t get a copy of volume 5, and was thus not reminded. When I happened to glance at the book (Kleist’s The Old English Homily) and think “hmm, I reviewed that, didn’t I OH WAIT”, I actually did not know whether it had been published (because I didn’t keep in contact with the reviews editor, due to forgetting it), and nor did I have all the citation details and so on that you need.

The library own a copy of volume 5.  The library have lost their copy of volume 5.

Fortunately, I have a very indulgent best friend, and the Centre for Celtic Studies was having a special lecture today so there were Celticists about. Be it known that Pamela O’Neil, editor of JAEMA, is a wonderful human being, the kind who opens up the envelope with the copy of JAEMA she was about to mail off to someone, and runs off photocopies for said very indulgent best friend. The Centre for Medieval Studies all already know I’m a scatterbrain, and now, let my reputation procede me into the Centre for Celtic Studies. :s

One day, I may establish myself as an organised and calm person. That day is not today.

On the bright side, mwahahahaa, I have a Publication Record. Of exactly one thing, and I don’t know how much reviews count for in the scholarship stakes, but something is better than nothing at all!


Oh, google…

My google hits haven’t got any less weird during my blog-hiatus, apparently.

Answers to google requests of late:

“Princeton University Press”: here. Not me.

“Gawain vs Song of Roland”: Gawain. Because it has more dirty jokes in it.

“Why doesn’t Roland blow his horn?”: Because the Song of Roland doesn’t have enough dirty jokes in it.

“Strong hairy Denis”

… whut?

Things Highly has been reading lately

Between Women: friendship, desire and marriage in Victorian England – Sharon Marcus, Princeton University Press 2007.

Someone recommended this to me a couple of months back, before I made my excellent if rather sudden decision to apply for an MDST masters next year. I’d been toying with the idea of doing a masters in Aus. lit – an idea which I might have been able to follow up without moving towns again. The author I was (still am) interested in was writing in early 20th century Australia, and besides which, I’ve got a bit of a running interest in late 19th and early 20th century women’s literature at the moment.

So I picked up Sharon Marcus’ book, and as it happens, I think I can use some of her methodology in this thesis I’m proposing (it’s on female homosociality in Chrétien de Troyes’ romances). Between Women is an interesting – and in my opinion, very solid – book in that it is both a historical and a literary study. Marcus has divided her text into three types of relationships or portrayals of relationships: the homosocial, the homoerotic and the homosexual (the distinction between the last two is interesting, and I don’t think I fully understand it after reading the intro – hopefully the respective parts of the book will enlighten me). For each, she has two chapters: one looking at historical sources and reconstructing something of actual women’s experience and practice; and the other looking at Victorian novels and the narrative functions of women’s homosocial, homoerotic and homosexual relationships respectively.

This makes sense: although you can use literature as a historical source,  and you can certainly do a literary analysis of a historical work like an autobiography, here, the division is one of fundamental purpose. The historical chapter attempts to reconstruct what women did, thought, experienced; and the literary looks at one or several author’s expression of an ideal – what women should do, think, experience.

In the literary chapter “Just Reading: Female Friendship and the Marriage Plot”, Marcus looks at female friendship as a “narrative engine” which complements, supports, drives and enforces the heteroromantic plot and its conclusion. She takes issue with feminist readings which see all female homosociality as a rebellion against patriarchal forces (I cannot speak for whether or not this is an accurate assessment of feminist studies of Victorian literature), and emphasises instead the way that female friendships provide space for character development in the early stages of the novel, and are used to reconcile the heteroromantic plot in the later stages.

It strikes me that this is exactly how Lunette and Laudine’s friendship functions (assuming you accept Cheyette and Chickering’s approach to “love” as a social contract within the poem; if you prefer to read Laudine as powerless, Lunette becomes an abusive friend): in the early stages of the poem, their debate over love and marriage provides us with an opportunity to assess each woman’s character and to understand, through their argument, the reasoning which eventually leads to Laudine’s marriage; and in the later stages, Lunette’s intervention serves to reconcile Yvain and Laudine and bring about a stable resolution to the romantic plot. Interestingly, unlike the Victorian era examples Marcus gives, Lunette and Laudine’s relationship is not without its own strife – which Yvain (in disguise) has to step in to resolve.

I’m not yet entirely sure how far I can go with applying Marcus’ methodology – or where I’m going to end up with it – but the take-home message (or the put-in-my-proposal message) so far is: to really understand the value that an author and/or their society place on female homosociality, it is important to look at women’s same-sex friendships as integrated with their heterosocial relationships. Only by considering their weight in the plot as a whole can we get an idea of what weight the author ascribes to them.

Logical, huh?

And just in case you’re enthused by this, Between women is largely available on googlebooks.

Someone shoot me now

Dear Beowulf studies:

I am changing languages. Please go away.

No, I don’t care if what I’m saying about women’s function as agents of social cohesion in Yvain and Erec et Enide looks surprisingly like the role(s) of a peace-weaver bride, as argued by Rosemary Huisman. PLEASE GO AWAY.

Nyah Nyah Nyah NOT LISTENING. (Besides, the differences in social structures are, I estimate, sufficiently significant that the similarities are more coincidental than meaningful. YES? RIGHT?)


Aspiring Arthurianist Highly

While I’m here and on the intarwebs…

If you haven’t seen the Bayeux Tapestry Cake yet, get ye thence and observe.

What would you do if you were not afraid?

Not quite a year since I handed in my thesis, nine months into a Real Job, and less than two weeks before the application deadline for 2010 research degrees, someone finally sat me down and asked me what I really want to do.

Apparently, what I would do if I still had all the guts and confidence I had two years ago (blah blah blah personal crap hit me hard during my Hons year, I’ve been using this year off to get my head screwed back on) is:

1. A thesis, preferably an MPil.

2. At Sydney Uni (I had been considering studying, say, Australian lit at ANU to save myself moving towns again).

3. On Old French (that’s a surprise – I’d been telling myself all along that I’m not good enough at French for that), specifically, on female homosociality in the works of Chretien de Troyes (which I went on about at length here).

4. As soon as humanly possible, and sort out financial questions when they happen.

People, it is ten days out from the application deadline. My Old French professor, a thousand blessings be upon her head, says she’ll take me. The CMS say they will take me.

What I have to do is write a research proposal in eight days and pop it in the mail. It’s an inauspicious start – maybe if I get my last minute deadline scrambling done now, I won’t have to do it at the end? I don’t know what my scholarship chances are, as I’ve no publications. But, by the Venerable Bede, it’s what I’d rather be doing, I’d be an idiot not to try it.

Here goes, folks!