SFF & Classics Weekend

Gonna blog about actual academic stuff over at my other place soon but just needed to say out loud that you know you’ve been at this kind of event when you have discussed (as well as your own research) the problems of zero-sum power loss assumptions in criticisms of feminism and the problem of gender binarism in Gravesian styled fantasy as well as the varied potential of research into fan-fic, counter-canonicity and alt. history and lost count of the number of times you have heard the term meta.

Professional Profile

Although I talk about my academic work on this blog I wouldn’t categorise this as a research blog and because I talk about my personal life in quite a lot of detail I am not necessarily keen for people searching for me on a professional level to find this before they get to know me – Although a detailed search for some of the topics of my research will probably bring you here eventually.
[I am also not necessarily hugely keen for the people I interact with on a day-to-day basis and my in-laws/family to be find this easily]

However, as the modern digital world becomes more a part of my(possible) professional life it becomes increasingly clear that I should build myself a website/blog to showcase myself on an academic level. I need my name to be visible and associated with my work and I need to enthuse other people on my subject if I want to have even the vaguest of hopes of landing a job.
Also I really really need to publish something!
Which is why not only am I going to email people with the notes for my conference paper but as soon as my thesis page refs are done and my next paper is outlined I am going to turn it into a real journal article. I am also going to start writing a book proposal for my thesis.

Conference Paper (Apr. 13)

Apparently its March already.
This means I have less than a month to finish researching and writing my first conference paper of the year.

The abstract was submitted months ago and I did start my research in between submission and viva but prepping for viva and doing corrections have completely distracted me from actually fleshing out this paper – an especially annoying scenario since I am determined that it will form the basis of something to be submitted for publication. I really want to get some of my work actually out into the world and can’t keep going over the thesis material even if I do publish it eventually..So tonight as a way of treating myself for doing lots of work on the thesis I am going to go back over some of my research and find some more material. I am also going to commit over the course of this week to making a skeleton slide outline to work round.

Key thoughts:

  • Susan Cooper uses Classical knowledge to signify education and to a lesser extent superiority.
  • Section on Romans in Britain emphasises series themes of displacement, duty and connection to one’s land
  • Contrast practical/factual/educational Classics with mythic/emotional Celtic & Saxon imagery
  • Is this a recognisable trend in children’s fantasy?
  • Is this a trend in 50s/60s/70s lit.?

Gonna do me some real research.. gonna enjoy it!


So.. I had a Viva and I didn’t die.
To be entirely honest whilst it wasn’t my dream best-case scenario it was my realistic best hope – I passed with minor corrections. [Dream best case? Immediate pass & simultaneous publication/fellowship offer hahaha]

However, at this stage I am trying to get my head round what that really means.

I have a list of typos, grammatical quirks and stylistic points to correct. Its not a short list (this isn’t a surprise) but some of its features are unexpected – for example my practice of giving a full reference in the footnote the first time I used a work and author-date-page thereafter was dismissed as not obvious and messy so I will be changing it to author-date-page throughout.
What is harder to get my head round are the general comments on things they would liked more/less of vs. the comments about what would need doing before publication was a sensible option. I am trying to work out how to include the information that my examiners deem important without pushing the word count into ridiculosity.
Naturally, given the multi-disciplinary nature of the thesis, they do not entirely agree on which areas should be given precedence/offer sufficient information and the weird synthesis of being too obvious/not obvious enough is brutally clear to me. Despite some vague why haven’t you talked about this/ clarified that etc comments there is a lot of really detailed feedback which I am really grateful for – goodness only knows I’d do it differently next time!

Anyway, I don’t have my formal report yet and nor do I have a clear idea of what my satisfying these comments and resubmitting/getting approved will look like.

This is definitely a portion of the PhD process I don’t know how to approach.
Anyone else have this problem?

Appproaching Viva

I am not facing the impending interview with the zen-like calm I would like.
I am, it would be fair to say,  lurching between being as sensible as I can in order to maintain accept the possible outcomes and to stop rampant speculation about what happens next and moments of abject terror characterised by mind-numbing panic attacks that don’t even seem to involve thoughts about the viva at all.

I am not prepared. I haven’t finished re-reading the beast. I don’t feel up-to-date on new scholarship and I haven’t even decided what to wear (yes its ridiculously small but weirdly important to my self-esteem – I swear knee-high boots got me through Uni interviews at 17).

Ah well. What could possibly go wrong?
Its not like I’ve spent the last ten years of academic life building up to these moments or anything. Its not like I have no concept of how to face failure gracefully or what to do with success. right?hahaha….

Academic Disagreement

I am a baby academic, not published, no doctorate… How do I deal with academic disagreement?
I was contacted through my academia.edu profile with some comments loosely related to my research (though I might add not actually on the key topic of my thesis- which is naturally far more subtle :-S). I responded with why I thought the ideas were interesting and why I thought some aspects were wrong and the correspondence has continued. Although we have not got very far, my correspondent has become increasingly detailled with the facts related to his ideas but (to me at least) no more convincing. I fear that whilst he believes in a definable truth discernible from the literary documents I do not and that we shall never agree. Furthermore I have told him so. I believe we are working on different principles of truth-value and that he has a rather different agenda to me. I have no wish to spend the next 20 years arguing about which bits of Strabo/Diodorus/Pliny are “right” and if he had never contacted me directly I would have added his book to my collection of interesting and analysable commentaries on the topic.

So my question is this:
How do I disengage? I don’t want to offend him, I believe he has done some research and that he has a not-implausible theory – I just don’t think he has proven (or could ever prove) it is better than other related theories.
My actual research is in the formulation of these theories, their patterns and their function. I want to ask him to tell me about what drove him to do the research, to really probe why he favours this interpretation over other possibilities.
Is it possible to do that? How do I disconnect my sense of protectiveness over my research and my decision? Is there any way to continue a correspondence while I remain sceptical without offending him? Can we discuss the issue without  expecting to ‘convert’ the other? If I have a sudden “epiphany” and accept his proofs is it possible to reconcile that with trying to understand his motivation? Finally, if worst comes to worst, at what point is it acceptable for me to tell him to go study Greek for 5 years and to study approaches to classical historiography and geography for 3 years and then reconsider his attitude to the ancient material…?

Also if he wants me to review his book.. he should send it to me not debate with me via private message, right?

Learning about Lamps

Art & Archaeology are not the strong points of my classical background (I am a lit/history kinda gal) but they are pretty central components to Museum displays.
So right now I am engaging on a crash course on categorising and dating terracotta lamps. The lamp in question has a rather hazy (by which I do not mean to imply shady or nefarious) provenance but fortunately a slightly more informed researcher than me began the process.

I am fascinated by the arcane arts of judging the shapes and different methods of production. I am intrigued by discussion of fabric and spout detailing. I do not quite understand why such suggestions are made and I don’t know if I could do the same thing. I am interested by the interpretation of the imagery and I find that easier to unpick but of course it raises more questions…

What I have not yet decided is how the objects themselves can offer a narrative acontextually of their original setting – not because I don’t think they have stories to tell about production, trade & lifestyle as groups but because fitting that to complement but not repeat other displays is a tricky process.

Viva and Volunteering

So a little under 2 months after submission I have a date for my viva – Valentine’s Day.
At the moment it feels nothing but terrifying. As B reminded me -it is a combination of the sense of my own inadequacy and a fear of the unknown. So my plan is to spend a bit of time re-reading the thesis, looking for the bits I am actually pleased with and reminding myself what my key new points are.

In entirely different news, I have a new project. I am starting volunteering at the museum I worked at between my undergraduate and masters degrees and am going to start by designing a display on a topic I currently know very little about. This is quite exciting.

To Read

In an effort to stave off the real world and its terrors (e.g. research, jobs, emotions that kind of thing) and in between my refound joy in fiction I’ve been reading book reviews again.
So I thought  I’d make a bit of a record of some of the books I want to make an effort to read. This is extremely dull for non-classicists so is under the cut.. Continue reading