Mascot for #DevilDiss

Mascot for #DevilDiss
Mascot for #DevilDiss

Thursday, July 31, 2014

What I Did On My Summer Vacation: PhD Student Edition

This summer, I had a lot on my To Do list:
  • Complete comp reading for Methodology/Folklore, Middle English, and Early Modern
  • Revise dissertation prospectus to reflect comp reading
  • Revise Virgin Mary and Devil article and submit
  • Turn Grimm and La Llorona conference paper into journal article about translation in television
  • Expand Captain America article for Sequart into book chapter on Captain America as working class hero
  • Start dissertation
    • pull close reading passages and analyze (Round 1)
    • historicize these readings (Round 2)
    • add in other scholarship, both responses to, and footnotes (Round 3)
Given that tomorrow is the 1 August, and that my university obligations start 12 August, it seemed like a good time to stop and take a moment to reflect on "What I Did On My Summer Vacation."

I completed all of my comp reading for all three areas I am testing in, and notified committee members as well as sent them revised copies of my prospectus. I had a meeting with one of my committee members, and I feel pretty good about it.
I have pulled most of my close readings for my dissertation and have started the analysis, waiting on just a few ILL to finish Round 1. Have also started to pull scholarship for my dissertation (in addition to what I had on my comp reading list). I have a filing box that I'm using to keep track of primary and secondary sources.

The dissertation is up to 47 pages as of yesterday, and I've identified sub-headings, ways to organize my chapters, so I'm feeling good about that. As of today, I continue to be on track for my five pages a day progress on the dissertation.
I have not made as much progress on my other writing goals this summer, but have blocked out the weekends in August to get these things done, so hopefully by the end of August all of this will be finished as well.
I'm finishing my course work this semester, and it's just three classes, so my schedule is pretty light (plus teaching two). I also have nothing scheduled on Friday, so I'm setting Friday aside for dissertation writing.
So, here's the plan for the next year:
  • This fall, other than courses, and tweaking the dissertation drafts from this summer, I don't have a whole lot of writing on my plate, so I've scheduled time to work on my Revising Milton book project. 
    • While Palgrave liked the proposal, they won't publish it because/until I have a terminal degree. However, I've decided to write the book as I had scheduled this year because this will be a "light" year (before heavy revision mode for dissertation), and that means that it will be finished and ready to resubmit to them in May 2016 upon graduation.
  • I comp in February. I should know results by the first week in March if not earlier. 
  • I plan on defending my prospectus as soon after that as I can schedule (March?).
  • As soon as the prospectus defense is done, I want to have first complete drafts of CH 1, 2, 3 of the dissertation to give to committee members (April at the latest).
  • I've applied to present at both Medieval Academy and Kalamazoo. My focus this year is medieval specific conferences, and next year the focus will be on early modern as prep for the job market.
  • By the end of spring semester 2015, have second drafts to committee members based on their feedback.
    • Spend summer working on revisions from that, as well as revising the introduction, and writing the conclusion.
    • Also spend summer prepping job market materials for applications in the fall

So that's been the work portion of my summer.
I wanted to be able to go home and visit Dad, but it's $1500 to drive home and back, and I just can't afford it. Nehi and I have spent a fair amount of time playing and hanging out. And I've upped my routines to focus on a healthier lifestyle.
I think it's been a productive summer all the way around, and I think I've accomplished  lot. I think too that a big reason WHY I've been able to accomplish so much is because of my planning.

I know a lot of people encourage time off from work during the summer, and I agree. Everyone needs time to recharge. But I'm on a tight schedule, and want to make sure I'm in a good position next fall for the job market, so I'm pushing it.
I hope everyone had a great summer, and is excited about the start to their new semester!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Starting the Dissertation- Finding the Texts

Yesterday I officially completed my reading for my comprehensive exams. I've emailed my committee members the final lists, and my revised prospectus based on my reading.

So the next step is to start writing the dissertation. I have a two step plan:
  1. Pull close reading passages from primary documents and analyze them 
  2. Go back and add scholarship based on these readings
Chapter 2 focuses on the physical description of the Devil, and Chapter 3 on his personality/actions. I've combined these two markers for Chapter 3 because his personality as tempter for example cannot be separated from his actions as tempter.
Since my argument is that the devil of these texts as the folkloric devil I am focusing on popular texts only (vernacular), texts that would have been known to the "folk". 
Middle English:
  • Genesis B
  • William of Malmesbury Chronicle of Kings (I have the J.A Giles translation, but need the original)
  • [Thomas Aquinas]
  • Legenda Aurea/The Golden Legend need Caxton's version
  • Piers Plowman B Text, Harrowing of Hell
  • Shewings of Julian Norwich
  • The Castle of Perseverance
  • Parliament of Fiends
  • The Book of Margery Kempe
  • Prose Merlin
  • York Corpus Christi
  • Sir Gowther
Early Modern:
  • Discoverie of Witchcraft
  • English Faust Book
    • Doctor Faustus
  • Edward II
  • The Honourable History of Friar Bacon  
  • Demonologie
  • The Merry Devil of Edmonton
  • The Death of Merlin
  • The Devil is an Ass
  • The Devil's Charter
  • The Late Lancashire Witches
  • The Goblins
  • Paradise Lost 
The early modern texts are easy- I have all of them. However, the issue I'm running into is finding original Middle English versions of those texts. I have Middle English copies of the highlighted texts, but am having a hard time finding the others. I've noticed in a lot of scholarship, the argument is based on summaries of a text without a close reading (or specific citation). Since specific word choice/descriptions are key to my argument, I need to originals.
A search of the library (even for ILL) has not turned up anything.
So, can anyone point me in the direction of originals for the Middle English texts I need?
Thanks in advance. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Comp Reading Has Eaten My Brain (and is ruining Harry Potter)

You know comp reading for your PhD exam has eaten your brain when you can't even watch the Harry Potter marathon on ABC Family without your work creeping in.

ABC Family is showing all the Harry Potter movies this weekend, and it makes great background for working. Order of the Phoenix is on, and I was watching the scene where the rules are nailed to the wall of Hogwart's. I started thinking about Martin Luther's 95 Theses. Could these scenes in the movie, as more and more rules get posted, be read as a anti-Reformation text? Particularly in light of the ritual (read Popish) laden culture of Hogwart's.

So that's my random thought for Sunday morning.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Methodology as Folklore

Last week I met with one of my committee members to discuss my Methodology and Folklore reading list which I finished a few weeks ago. This meeting consisted of an hour of quizzing about everything I'd read on my list. Usually lists are divided into primary and secondary sources, but because my goal was to examine both the folkloric texts and the methodology associated with them, we collapsed the list, and centered it around Dundes' work.
If you knew my committee member, you'd understand how important it is that I managed to respond to everything lobbed at me. He's one of the smartest people I know, and doesn't accept anything less than genius. I was happy with how it went and his brief comment of, "You obviously know all the material" is the equivalent of being called a rock star.

He's told me that he will have three comprehensive exam questions and the break down will be one that is about the reading, one that is specific to my topic, and one that is completely out of left field.

Before our meeting broke up he said that he wanted me to think about how methodology functioned AS folklore. One of the arguments I brought up during our meeting that I was struck with how compartmentalized folklore work was- formalists OR historical context OR psychoanalysis OR whatever...whereas it made more sense to me to combine approaches- to identify the form (tropes/motifs), then place the text within a specific historical/cultural moment, then look at what is repressed or hidden, and WHY at that particular moment certain fears or anxieties would be present, then panning back to look at the big picture to look at what all of that says about that moment and what work that text was doing.
I also think that in regards to folklore we can only analyze that frozen moment, and have to avoid making generalizations based on single artifacts.

So back to my committee member's question- I was thinking that one way to approach it would be something like the chart below, to analyze their works through the same approach I'm proposing with folkloric texts.
Historical/Cultural Moment
What it says/work being done




 This approach would allow me to look at the story told in each work, and the larger work (as Dundes says) that work is doing.
I still have some working out to do to tease out what this looks like, but those are my initial thoughts.

More to come.