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dissertation woes

I went this past week to pick up Leslie Lockett's _Anglo-Saxon Psychologies in the Vernacular and Latin Traditions_) published 2011, U of Toronto Press.  Her first chapter is my dissertation/writing so far, minus a consideration of homilies.  Seriously.  She says everything I was going to say about the state of the field, about the biases in thinking re soul-body relations in medieval studies, about the so-called Augustinian view being dominant in the field but actually the minority in AS England.  She anticipates every objection I've had as I've read, and I suppose after spending a year+ covering exactly the same ground she's covering here, my objections are fairly well-informed.  She answers every objection within a page or two.  And she did it all in a chapter and change.  She then goes on to discuss the mind, mostly, for the rest of the book, but this is not because she collapses mind and soul, like Harbus, but because she ranges over the entire narrative corpus for her first chapter, including treating the dialogue in the Soul and Body poems, and uses the corpus itself to form her argument.  This is stunning (in a sort of sick, "I have wasted the last year trying to articulate this stuff"-feeling kind of way).  She articulates the problems, and she *answers them* with a corpus-based model which outlines a four-part model of being (with distinct life, soul, spirit, and mind, at least prior to the 11th century, with life-force being the first of the four to lose distinction and merge into a more unitary model by becoming associated with soul), and she furthermore has the audacity to be absolutely *right.* 

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.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 3rd, 2011 09:35 pm (UTC)
1. It doesn't have to be a professional/publishable edition of the homilies. In fact, you can do what you can, and note in the defense your intention of getting mss access to do a proper job when it comes time to publish.

2. This happens all the time. I got scooped right after I defended my prospectus. Though I was lucky in that the person's work was not exactly what I wanted to do, and I thought she didn't do as good a job as I could have.
Sep. 3rd, 2011 11:36 pm (UTC)
I can help you in terms of making an edition, if you can somehow get the materials.
Sep. 3rd, 2011 11:49 pm (UTC)
The only way to get access to the mss at this point, afaik, is to go to Oxford. Too bad I didn't know I would need this when i was in Oxford. There are three editions of the homily already though, one done in the 30s in an article, one done in the 70s in Italian, and one in an unpublished diss from the 70s. The latter two are very difficult to get, but the diss in particular is nearly unassailable, not least of all b/c the author is an editor of the DOE (sigh)

The mss has not been released in the Microfiche Facsimile series yet.

That seems like the biggest problem at the moment, when combined with the fact that I have no paleography and did not really have a first-class OE education and am not really great with grammar. I mena, what would I do with the damned thing if I had it? I can't even read it. But then, the stickier points of grammar, orthography, and ms damage have been footnoted/emended/discussed between two of the three editions.

But I'm sure there are sticking points that I can't identify / am unaware of right now too.
Sep. 4th, 2011 12:03 am (UTC)
How much would Oxford want to image the parts you need? If you can get that, we can talk about paleography, transcription, and the like. Can you get the other editions?

I think it feels like a huge thing because it is huge when looked at as a whole, but the pieces are doable, and even if it doesn't come together quite the way you want, Knut's right: if it's good enough to get the chapter done that's all that matters.
Sep. 10th, 2011 03:29 am (UTC)
I have the other editions. (there is, of course, the DOE Corpus proper as well, but it's misleading in a few places; it's supposedly based on the diss but in fact there are some differences. Minor in terms of meaning but the diss has made a big difference in my translation in places where the DOE Corpus typescript version was confusing.) I don't know about Oxford. Somebody has to have images - maybe the author of that diss. Or they've been filmed for the Microfiche Facsimile project but not released, maybe. I'm not sure where to go/who to ask.

I finally sat down and read through all the "grammatical / linguistic" consideratoins of the diss edition the other day, and that took the wind out of my sails for doing an edition - I mean, I don't have any idea what half that stuff meant. I just don't have that kind of depth re grammar and language change over centuries and am just a monkey with a can opener when it comes to me, a typescript, and the BT (though hooray for the Digital BT! big timesaver versus combing through shit tons of headwords trying to guess what an infinitive form is!)

I dunno, this made me really tired in a sort of existential bone-deep way.

Sep. 11th, 2011 04:27 pm (UTC)
Oxford you say
Argh, this all sounds really horrible, but don't despair. The dissertation has to be a contribution, it doesn't have to be the only contribution and you may well find that once the shock wears off you do have points of difference with Lockett that make some of your views worth hanging onto. Otherwise, well, she's giving you support for your interpretations even if you now have to put the causality of that the other way round. Try, as far as you can, to make this book a reason you can do less work in order to finish, not more.

More concretely, I am in Oxford as you know. Mail me with a shopping list of what you would need from Oxford and details of who is involved in what. I may be able to do stuff by talking to people that you cannot from there.
Sep. 4th, 2011 12:26 am (UTC)
I might be able to get you a copy of the diss---what's it called? Is it Toni Healey's, by any chance? (I know she did an edition for her diss).
Sep. 10th, 2011 03:29 am (UTC)
It is, and I have it, but thank you!
Sep. 4th, 2011 12:25 am (UTC)
Also, which homilies are you working with? Maybe I can see if I can find them in facsimile someplace.
Sep. 10th, 2011 03:35 am (UTC)
Definitely the one I posted about the other day (HomM 14.1/14.2 which is actually one homily even though it doesn't seem to be from the ms context, for reasons outlined in that post). For this chapter, I also need Assmann’s item XIV, “Ueber das jungste Gericht," which also has no english translation anywhere, though the edition Assmann did I have (not that my menu-German is up to the task of reading hsi critical apparatus). I am considering a few more works but the need to translate them anew/in full isn't there for them, as they are better known and editions exist. I will be facing the same thing with at least one homily for chapter three, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.
Sep. 4th, 2011 04:24 am (UTC)

Look, I know nothing about academia, but I know about getting scooped. Once you get past that sickening dropping-elevator feeling, and look at the work again, there's often something you see that you can do that's a different angle or direction. I realize your work involves MUCH more research that mine, so course change is MUCH more complicated. Just don't sell yourself and your work short.

Sep. 4th, 2011 04:27 am (UTC)

And on second read, I realize that's generally what you're doing with the homilies angle. Doh. It's quite late and I have a teething baby. :) I just hate to see you have to jettison so much of your research.

Sep. 10th, 2011 03:40 am (UTC)
Me too. 'cause I've historically been pretty good at finding an angle that nobody has done to death yet. My research told me that the corner was coming and we were on the verge of turning it, but I didn't realize Leslie Lockett had /already/ turned it - y'know? But all in all it's probably just as well, because I dind't feel quite up to the task of putting forward a full and coherent model esp. given the time/funding constraints I"m under. So she at least provided me with some vocab that was sorely lacking before - and I dont' think I could have done the job she did.

Sep. 6th, 2011 06:57 pm (UTC)
While my [being scooped] experiences just can't compare to a diss, having had my Masters thesis advisor die, compounded by a few, um, "life experiences" that radically changed the direction of my work, I can certainly understand how having to change saddles at ANY point sucks some syphillitic donkey dong.

You're on my list.

If you think a little [completely off-topic break time] might do you a little good, you can always go play Army for an hour or two :-)
or just take 20min and do this survey for veterans and service folks:
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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