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Send the piece of shit 20-pages-in-Word diss-chapter-excerpt that needs more work to even be a slightly organized snapshot of what I'm doing and which still might not be clear to non-medievalist readers? I honestly don't know if I can make it *not* hurt my application in time to even use it, but there are good reasons to work on it that aren't directly related to a single job (mainly that I have been struggling to scrape together the money to eat and pay the rent and have not worked on my dissertation in about 6 weeks, I feel completely dead in the water, and I have lost both the thread and my taste for this entire endeavor and honestly feel like the last five years of my life have been a huge, fatal mistake from which I will never recover. Whether or not that's true, the resulting cessation of work on my diss is not good, and *anything* is better than not touching it right now. I do need to finish this stupid degree and to do that I have to get moving again).
Or send the PDF of my article that clocks in at 33 pages in journal formatting including endnotes/references? (I've been sending that with every app that doesn't specify a page limit.) It's 27 pages not counting endnotes. Will that get my app tossed, or do I have leeway because it's basically an electronic offprint from a journal?
Or send the more polished, unusual, slightly provocative, definitely more accessible but apparently divisive draft of the article that, in review, got one "hate it," (from a specialist in romance), one "definitely publishable but not for this journal," (from not-a-specialist in romance), and one "should not be published anywhere because the author relies on [published] critics who have a shallow understanding of the trajectory of french romance" (from I don't know who, but as he took issue with some of my translations, it must have been a specialist in Old French romance)? This is the Chretien de Troyes article. As a contribution to the field, it's worthless; that reviewer is actually right about the bedrock of the argument. Medievalists of a certain pedigree hate it (the last review, from a journal that's been around forever and is a bit more "traditional" than the first journal, was so harsh that I've shelved it and am not sending it anywhere else). It's an exercise, an imaginative flight. As an example of academic prose, it's passable but not my best. As a memorable piece that comes up in conversation later, it's a winner, even if the major claim doesn't stand up to the we-are-suspicious-of-theory-and-this-pie
The dissertation sample is definitely the worst of the lot. Which by itself I guess makes me unemployable. Honestly, though, I make $8 an hour at a fucking part time job right now. I just don't have a lot of time I can afford to take away from clocked-in stuff (I am $500 shy of making my monthly rent which is due in four days), so i'm leaning towards sending the article offprint. I'm not a stronger candidate on paper this season than I was last season, anyway, and I haven't registered for MLA because I don't have the money. If I got an interview I don't know what I'd do. I can't get there, I can't register, and I would have to sleep on a park bench even if I managed to hitchhike to Boston.
ETA: And I still only have two letters of reference, lolz. My attitude has gone from "well, I'll do what I can and hope for the best" to "fuck this whole circus in the neck with a cactus."
The that/which and comma shit - I let it go, not worth fighting. Not a grammar point I think worth the blood that gets shed over it. If I go insane over the Oxford comma, that/which debates put me to sleep. I care only about clarity - is the meaning clear? Then I don't care. Figure out how the editor likes it and do it that (ahem) way.
The prozeugma I introduced to avoid repetition, the one that the editor assumed was a basic case of typo/failure to proof? Politely explain what a zeugma is, with link, acknowledge that I can understand how it might not be a stylistically appropriate choice for the genre/context (
But this? This I draw the fucking line at. The project guideline asks for average scores. The example article gives average scores. The sample table template row header reads "Average scores." The guideline says if the info is not available, delete the row. Source does not give average scores - it gives 25th and 75th percentiles. You can't get an average from those stats - and if you try, you're guilty of fudging statistics. I delete the row. So I get dinged because (says editor) I should have put the middle 50 in there. Well folks, if you want the middle 50, you'd best be asking for the fucking middle 50. I know it's been 15 years since I took statistics, but I am pretty fucking sure you cannot have a range for an average -- unless you are using "average" to mean "common" instead of "mean," which is a pretty stupid thing to do in a table devoted to statistics.
It's this kind of shit that made me want to leave the corporate world in the first place - I cannot fucking stand arbitrary nitpicky shit and I cannot stand inefficiency, error, and sloppiness in my putative superiors, in the in-place procedures, in the general workflow. It turns me into a bratty pedant. I still have a grudge against an editor that edited punctuation errors into a cover story I wrote seven years ago (because that moron's errors prevent me from using the piece as a writing sample). That makes me a bad employee.
Anyway, the question. The source says that on its table, the 25th percentile is what 25% scored *at or below* (let's say it's 18 ACT composite), and its 75th percentile is what 25% of students scored *above* (26 ACT composite). First of all, isn't this a little wonky? Shouldn't the 75th percentile be what 25% scored AT or above?
And so do I report the middle 50% for ACT comp. as 19-26? 18-27? What the fucking fuck?
A comp lit professor from Israel wrote me yesterday. Not only did he read the Milton article, which was a pleasant enough surprise on its own, he tracked me down and wrote me an email telling me how much he liked it, though he did refer to it as "dense/intense." That's only fair. Still, one real reader is more than I'd have hoped for at this juncture, so that was pretty cool (especially since the Chretien article was rejected again the day before).
Ic ondette æfste & tælnesse, twyspræcnesse & leasunge, ellenhete & nið, unnyttes gylpes bigong & idle glengas, uncyste & idelre oferhygde, orgello þe to mines lichoman unræde æfre gelumpe oððe ic agælde þæt to minre sawle frætwum belumpe & me to eces lifes earnunge gegan sceolde.
The first part is simple enough: "I confess envy and slander, double-speak and falsehood, jealousy and envy, the practice of useless boasts and frivolous adornments, vice and vain pride [oferhygde]..."
And this is where I get confused, starting with orgello.
Orgello is a form of orgel, pride. But I don't know what case it is. Clark-Hall says orgello=orgel, but nothing else. Our verb is still "confess," so I'm tackling the clause before "or": /orgello þe to mines lichoman unræde æfre gelumpe/. unraed is dat sing crime/mischief/plot/bad plan/evil counsel, if it's a noun (the dictionary says it's a noun, but I swear I've seen it as an adj somewhere), but I have too many nouns in that case ; so what's the damned object of ondette? Does something happen "to my body," or...? gelumpe (happen, occur, come to pass, take place, befall) ought to be singular past subjunctive, so something befell or happened to the body of the speaker? Does he confess the pride that ever befell his body, and if so what is "unraede" and how does pride happen to the body? Or does he confess the crime/evil counsel/bad plan that befell his body, and if so, what is "orgello"? Word order would suggest he confesses pride. And this could maybe be something with "to" - if lichaman is dative? - would that construction be used to say "pride concerning my body" or "pride in my body"? For some reason I don't think so. But I just don't have enough info to sort this.
It doesn't get better. Whatever he confesses related to his body, there's more, after "or": /ic agælde þæt to minre sawle frætwum belumpe/. agaelde is a problem: is it agaelan, hinder, occupy, detain, neglect, hesitate, be careless, retard, delay, or even profane, or agieldan, yield, pay, or render? And belumpe is the past part. of belimpan so could mean regarded or concerned, but could also mean befell, became, or befitted. For God's sake. fraetwum is dative plural, so ornaments/adornments (treasure is a possibility, but since it's plural I'm going with adornments). "I neglected (or hindered) that which concerned (or befitted) my soul's adornments?" But how do I "connect" it to the previous clause?
So "I neglected that which concerned my soul's adornments and (that which) should have accomplished the merit of eternal life <to me>?"
Really, I got nothing.
ETA: Much later (July 2012) I have found the following in Cotton Tib A.3: "Ic andette ælce gýsunga · & æfęst · & tælnýsse & twýspæcnessa. leasunga · & unriht gýlp · & idel word & unrihte cesta & ælcne ·glænge þe to mines lichaman unræde æfre belumpe." And there's a nearly identical parallel passage in CCCC 201, "Ic andette ælce gitsunga. & æfest · & tæl-nessa · & twispræcnessa · léasunga & unriht gilp · & idel word. & unriht cýsta & ælcne glængc · þe to mines lichaman unrǽde æfre belumpe," that Frantzen translates, "I confess all covetousness and envy, and calumnies and deceits, lies and evil boasts, and idle words and wrongful choices, and every ornament that has ever contributed to the injury of my body." Now belimpan, in addition to "happen, occur, befall," can mean "concern, regard, pertain, appertain," so I can sort of get "contribute," and it's much easier for me to understand a construction of subject-belumpe-object. And if unræde is more at injury or mischief than at bad counsel, that removes my niggling worry about "whose counsel." I think, given this and several other close parallels between my prayer and the texts Frantzen edits (penitential handbooks, some of which contain bits of confessional prayers), that it's safe to translate these lines as "pride that contributed to the unræde/harm of my body" - not because I'm utterly convinced that belimpan and gelimpan are just totally interchangeable, but because if I'm challenged by anyone, I can throw them Frantzen to pick on. So I am ok to leave it at that for now, though I am still concerned about my apparently deficient understanding of gelimpan-constructions.
Where confusion remains, however, is with "oððe." If I confess all that stuff including pride that contributed to the harm of my body, what do I do with "oððe"? "or I neglected that which concerned my soul's adornments and should have merited me the reward of eternal life"? How does that even work syntactically? I am not confident enough of my OE to simply proclaim "this passage is defective," but I've never wanted to more than I do now.
I simply have *too much stuff* but am having the worst time finding a shape for it. And until I find a shape for it, it continues to just be a bunch of stuff. That would be fine if I weren't in a bit of a hurry.
What I am complaining about is stuff I know I have heard and read here and there, but who knows exactly where and when, about body-denigration and overwhelming identification of fleshly with female and the soul being the inner man and true self, always and everywhere and without question immortal, immaterial, and intellectual. This is just not true all the time, that body=flesh and that soul=life force=immortal, immaterial, intellectual/rational. But that doesn't seem to be a good place to start. So when I think, "ok, then what do I have?" what I have is a bunch of weird stuff that does not conform to or cohere into any particular dominant doctrine or theology, and indeed I think that is the point. Or rather I should say that I do not think a coherent doctrine or dogma was the point in any case.
Yet again I do not want to posit an ontology that was decisively "the" ontology (in the first case, I do not think there was only one, not even in any given 100 year span of Anglo Saxon England. And in the second case, Leslie Lockett has already done that and poked around in all the nooks and crannies and cupboards of Alfred's and Alcuin's and Aelfric's bookshelves.)
But I also am not really arguing that we need to read this stuff "only" as literature - though I certainly think we do, in the sense that the narrative truth, the way things are told and what happens in the dramatic portrayals of the devil walking around, or a saint throwing a key of hell over his shoulder, or a soul revisiting a body in a grave, is as important as "what Brother so and so believed to be true about the nature of the soul." I mean that I do not want to avoid ontology, but I do not think we can attend to ontology without considering narrative. I feel this to all be very clumsy, that I do not have the vocabulary for this. In part I mean this in the sense that these stories and poems and homilies dramatize scenes and put forward ways of thinking about the self, and use metaphors for a reason, and creat Soul and Body as *characters* in a narrative structure: "first the soul does this. Then the body does this. Then teh worm does this, and then God says 'STFU'." or "the soul tries to leave the body and the devil bops it on the head. then the soul tries to leave through the nose and the devil, who has a big eye in the center of his scaly forehead, laughs maniacally." This is not to say it's the same thing as "here is your official weekly bit of formal teaching about the soul and body, and an actual picture of what the enemy of mankind looks like." But it is also NOT to say 1. it is just stuff cooked up to scare the peasants senseless and control them so who cares about theological niceties (another huge and hugely bothersome, and very real, misconception about medieval Christianity that I WILL write a book about one day, a book accessible to people who say shit like that after watching Monty Python movies), 2. it is just entertainment, or pure "folktale," and should not be considered important as regards how to live as a rational embodied Christian being in a certain community and in a certain time and place. But I find myself very unsatisfied - for instance, what do I mean when I say "we should not consider this unimportant"? What kind of argument is that? (A lame one, that's what kind.) I do not want to frame this as either/or - but I do need some kind of way to frame it, and some kind of vocabularly to talk about what I think these works are doing. It does not seem quite enough to say "here are some ideas and images that are not "Augustinian" that were floating around, and nobody notices them because the tendency is to twist the text to fit a preconceived notion of what medieval people believed, which comes down to something like this: Augustine wrote it, therefore all medievals must have believed it (and therefore structured dramatic narratives in accordance with it). If you want to be more responsible, you can say "here's the proof this was true for Anglo Saxon England - Aelfric quotes Augustine right here. Case closed." All of this is itself a myth – one that has seriously limited our understanding of medieval spirituality. Augustinian theology is critical, sure, and it is also a LOT more subtle and complex than it is usually given credit for being, but we must put patristics into conversation with the medieval vernacular. What do we GET when we do that, though? I feel like I don't have the words for this.
Am I just overthinking that part? Is that not just obvious to anybody? Yet so much scholarship surrounding Soul and Body refers to whether or not the poet or the poem is orthodox or heterodox. I think those terms are not useful. I do not think that is the point of these works, even if there were some monolithic teaching circulating in insular Christianity saying "here is what to tell the rabble next Sunday, Aelfwine," and there was NOT. And I think framing the discussion that way leads us to ignore or just plain miss what is really interesting nad uniquely Anglo-Saxon about them. This is part of why scholars like Bynum can just skip right over Anglo Saxon england when writing about medieval concepts of embodiment, and why Raskolnikov can say that sowlehele is a Middle English concept/term. That would be news to Alfred, who used sawla haelo to translate Boethius' salus animorum 500 years before the writers Raskalnikov focuses on. But who will make this stuff accessible to non-Anglo-Saxonists when Anglo-Saxonists are tripping over themselves to subsume all questions of the soul under the headings of psychoglogy and cognitive linguistics? These dratted, embedded secular, post-Cartesian models irritate me. Why can't we take the soul as seriously as we take, I don't know, monsters? AS England turns human souls into characters in narrative bits far more often than it ponders the humanity or fate of Grendels in heroic poetry.
But there's another important element, and that is that these sorts of conversations have always been had in story and dialogue form. Aquinas comments on Augustine who comments on Paul who comments on what is happening in whatever little backwater. Augustine comments on Plato who tells us a story about Socrates, in which Socrates talks about the soul in a narrative with several other characters and they try different images and metaphors and theories on for size. In all of this mess of orthodoxy or not, people are saying things like "so and so was opposed to the Platonizing Christian tendency to do x y and z." AS IF there were *A* single Platonizing Christian movement with a membership card! And as if every Platonic text says the same thing. Sure, Augustine rejected the notion that man is "soul using body," and the image of man as "soul using body" does crop up in Plato. But so do lots of other images. But you know, my job here is also to stay with the literature and not write a "history of the reception of Plato in early medieval England" either.
Far, far too much stuff. And a meeting wtih my advisor tomorrow, which needs to count for a lot and which probably will involve me blathering like an idiot and wasting valuable time.
ETA: It occurs to me that something in the realm of myth studies, folklore studies, or even narrative theory might help me find vocabulary here. Some days I do not know if what I am saying makes any sense at all. And some days it seems so obvious as to not be worth saying at all. But then - Witness, for instance, Mari Womack, The Anthropology of Health and Healing, Rowman and Littlefield, 2010, used as a textbook in medical anthropology classes: “in medieval theology, the distinction between mind and body was . . . clearly defined as a war between God and the carnal form of the human body. . . . In theological terms, the word ‘carnal’ is linked to consumption and enjoyment of bodily pleasures, such as eating, drinking, and sexuality. These activities . . . are condemned as ‘sinful’” (56). Sorry folks, but that is a grave mischaracterization. This makes me think all of this stuff needs saying, more, again. Though one would think after Bynum's _Resurrection_ that the saying did not need repeating in a scholarly context anyway....
ETA2: Lockett: “I am less concerned with the literary conventions by which the soul is personified and the corpse is made to speak; the crucial thing to observe is that all participants in these scenes . . . attribute virtually all responsibility for an individual’s actions to the body, in ways that reinforce the idea that the mind is not at all part of the soul” (391 n. 52). SO - I guess literary conventions it is for me.
I am trying really hard to stay positive and just keep writing, but this has made my natural tendency to go "I'm not ready to start writing yet because I still have fifteen more articles to read/three more monographs to outline/four more dissertations to obtain/one more dead language to learn/etc" even worse than usual. But I also know that I never really know what I'm going to say/where I'm going to arrive until I am actually writing, like writing in such a way that i'm organizing things and making transitions (I have a "chapter one sandbox" file that is 23 single spaced pages of unconnected stuff, and it does not contain even one third of my marginalia from reading over the last year and a half, nor does it contain any translations, which take up lots of space, nor does it contain a definite, clean outline or argument. I have countless bursts of thinking in notebook margins, text files, and post it notes that are scattered all over the freakin' living room and computer. It will be the work of a solid week just to collect all of that, and that's optimistic, and that's even if I don't read another iota of secondary stuff or translate another line of OE. I am messy as hell. But I hope this means that if I actually start stringing things into proper prose form then something will emerge, some hail mary moment will happen. I mean, it freakin' HAS TO.)
I guess a big stubmling block is that my starting place was going to be "everybody is framing the discussion in binary/dualistic terms, and here is how that doesn't work and here is how that framework/preconception helps us miss all this other stuff, and then here is some cool other stuff that we can think about in these new terms I'm framing." I figured I'd arrive at something a little better than that after I actually started stringing paragraphs together. But now I don't know how to start, because now everybody is NOT framing the discussion in binary/dualistic terms - this really important, brilliant book has just come out and I don't have time to thoroughly read and grok it before my draft needs to be done. I just really don't know what the hell to do, but I MUST have a chapter draft this month, AND I have to give a conference paper on this chapter draft in less than a month.
So for the first time ever, really, in any research project, I actually had a pretty solid idea of where I was going before I got a bunch of stuff properly written. I mean, I could tell you what I was going to argue, even though i was pretty sure I still had some surprises in store for myself that would emerge, and I had a bunch of loosely connected stuff I had to sort through and some of it would end up not fitting in. But now, I cannot tell you what I am arguing or doing that has not already been done.
What in the hell do I DO?!
God, I wish I hadn't gotten my hands on that book until I had the stupid chapter actually written. This has never happened to me when I've been so far along and invested in a project before. And I don't even want to think about a writing sample right now for job applications - that is a whole 'nother freakout (and now, a not-insignificant problem. I mean, my forthcoming thing is absolutely related to this work, but the version of it that is [supposedly] forthcoming [for a quarterly, the journal is taking *forever* to actually print it] has most of the medieval and most of the apocrypha and most of the theology stripped out of it, and it's been reframed to speak to a few current issues in early modern scholarship right now. It seems silly to apply for medieval jobs wtih an early modern writing sample, but given that a lot of the prose I've already worked out in the form of the prospectus and assorted bits is now redundant and may not even be in the diss, I really don't have any other good options. I guess I could dust off a Chaucer piece I have on the burner, but wouldn't it look screwed up NOT to send a writing sample from a diss? Or am I being stupid? I mean, if the forthcoming article were on medieval *anything* I wouldn't sweat it if it weren't from the diss. This will actually be in the diss, but it's the END of the diss, and a lot of other stuff that is not in great prose shape yet has to be polished first AND the piece slightly reframed in order to "fit" with the previous chapters. Also, the Chaucer piece may actually be a piece of shit and/or dumb and/or ill-informed - I'm apparently no judge of my own writing at all.)
Please don't tell me to ask my advisor. I won't go into that in an unfiltered post, but that is not helpful advice.
Man this sucks.
The only thing she has not done that I was planning on doing is consider these homilies (so far she does not treat homilies much if at all). But she has just published not only my entire framework and thus a giant chunk of my page count so far, she has drawn (solid, very well argued, subtle) conclusions and put forward a model or worldview that should -- must -- change the way we read and translate some of this work. It is a very good model, and she is on solid ground so far theologically as well as philologically. She is absolutely right. But she has left me with nothing to say. I have no Chapter Two, and no need to write the planned material towards an Anglo Saxon ontology.
This would have made my life easier if it had come out a year ago. Now, though -- well, it kept me up all night last night. So. The homilies it is, and linking OE to the ME work is where it is. And I will just have to restructure this thing and confine myself to answering her call for action and contextualizing my work within hers. I will use two homilies to argue for reframing the conversations surrounding the soul-body debates in OE, and then I'll see what I have when that's done. Advisor says, since the homilies have been so much work, to make the current chapter an edition of them, essentially, but i am not actually qualified to do this, esp for homilies that I have no access to in terms of mss. I can't even get the fiche images right now. I am not really capable of doing a proper edition.
I tried so hard to sleep, but I was awake when the sun came up, lying in bed freaking the hell out.
ETA: And she discusses the homilies I've been working on. the poem I was building my first chapter around. She has an entire chunk on corporealized soul, not just as a sort of literary thing but as an actual ontological/theological concept. I am doomed. I have *nothing to say that she hasn't said.* It is a *brilliant* book and if I didn't have six months to finish this diss I would be relishing it. I imagine I can find another angle eventually, but I just do not know how I can find it within the next week. This conference paper is going to be extremely embarrassing.
I cannot even begin to express how long it's taken me to get this far - indeed, how long it's taken me just to track the damned thing down, figure out what is part of it and what is not, never mind to get a bumbling translation cobbled together with tons of uncertainties and mistakes. At this rate, I should have a chapter written. But I don't even have a homily translated. And there are a lot more homilies I was going to look at - at least one of which has also not been translated. This is not going to work on this schedule. Bah. Anyway, this homily is anonymous, untitled, and exists in precisely two editions, one of which is in an unpublished dissertation and the other in a collection whose critical apparatus is in Italian, as is all the recent scholarly work on the sorts of things I'm looking at here.
It took me a really long time just to figure out the editions even existed, in part because nobody has worked on this homily in English since the 1930s, and that was only to identify a few passages in it that had some motifs in common with some better-known homilies, and it's scattered across several folios of a manuscript and interrupted by a translation/recension of the apocryphal Vision of Paul. So it's not like you can plug the name of the homily into a search engine or anything. Nobody even knows what to call it, and it has two Cameron numbers and two incipits because it was treated as two different texts for so long. It wasn't edited until the 70s, and the two editions disagree on some manuscript readings (and the ms in question has not been released as part of the Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts in Microfiche Facsimile project yet - not that I have had paleography or anything and could actually read it if it had).
Anyway. Here is a homily that I can just about guarantee you have never read before; there is no published translation in English. The good part is later, many many lines later :( A work in progress.
[fol 2v] Men ða leofestan, we geleornodon on godcundum gewritum þæt (æghwylces) monnes sawul, æfter þisse weorulde, scyl (gesecan) eft (dane)(lichaman)(and)(þissum) wordum ærest þus sprecaþ and cweð þæs synfullan monnes sawle, gihyrstu, earma senfulla lichoma?
Beloved men, we have learned in sacred writings that every man’s soul, after this world, must seek again the body, and with these words first will speak thus and say, the soul of the sinful man, "Do you hear, miserable wicked body?"
[Why is "þæs synfullan monnes sawle" genitive? wth is going on here? if "the soul of the sinful man," sawle is acc, gen, or dat. so I still don't get it. Also, Fadda seems to be taking gehyrstu as imperative, but I am not convinced of this. But i can't really defend my reading here either.]
Ic cyrre to ðe to ðan þæt ic ðe werge and þine ungeleafulnesse <ðe> gesecge.
I turn to you to accuse you and for your unfaithfulness I say to you, [free-ish rendering of what I think is a purpose clause]( Read more...Collapse )
- adventures in television
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- (no subject) [+11]
- (no subject) [+10]
- some whinging and a stats question [+1]
- (no subject) [+0]
- (no subject) [+3]
- stumped (OE translations) [+7]
- slouching towards vocabulary [+10]
- dissertation woes redux [+14]
- dissertation woes [+14]
- The homily that's determined to kill me - HomM 14.1-2, Junius 85, ff 2v, 12r-17r [+3]