All entries for January 2006

January 30, 2006

Monday, 30 January

Ended up meeting with Andrew this afternoon to show him the work I have so far managed to do on my Servius chapter; I had intended it'd be Wednesday, but found out while I was floating in the department that he wouldn't actually be in then. Seeing as I have only 700 or so words written down there wasn't much to discuss, although he did comment on the enthusiasm I seem to be showing for the subject — which I hadn't hitherto realised I had. We agreed that I would call by again in two weeks' time; have set myself a deadline of 23 February to get the chapter finished — I'm quietly optimistic that that should be comfortable for me.

Also met up with Zahra about the presentation I will be doing a month from tomorrow; I wasn't sure what the purpose was, whether it was supposed to be an insight into the methodological issues in handling a large research project, for the benefit of the taught MA students who will be starting their dissertations fairly soon. Was told that the presentation is supposed to be for my benefit, so I can gain some experience of delivering a paper. The idea is that I submit to her by email a title for the paper in the next week or so; I expect I will try to survey in 20 minutes the essay I did last term, comparing the Eclogues and the Bucolicum Carmen. Will throw a handout together for it as well. I feel like it should be a valuable exercise, especially if one or two of the academics show up and give feedback.

Also discussed with both Andrew and Zahra the Charles Martindale seminar that's taking place in a couple of weeks time. Andrew suggested that — seeing as he, having organised the seminar, is teaching at the time and unavailable — that I greet Martindale when he arrives at the University an hour or so before, and chat to him a little about my research. It may be that I end up going out to dinner with the department after the seminar, as well. Hrm.

No plans for tomorrow, so I plan to catch up on all the writing I didn't do over the weekend; consumed by the Learning Grid and Greek [translation passage to finish for Wednesday]. My parents and stepbrother are arriving in the evening and spending the night before going on to Birmingham University on Wednesday. So even with the shopping, vacuuming and bed-changing I have to do, I still hope to add 400–500 words on to my count by then.

Finally, I apologise to anyone having the misfortune to read for the uninspired entry. It would appear my blogging Muse is still comatose after the swirling euphoria of two weeks ago; I live in hope that she will awake again soon.


January 27, 2006

Friday, 27 January

Wrote three-hundred more words.

Went to Greek.

Watched Seinfeld DVDs.

Work tomorrow.

Won't give up on writing my Blog!


January 25, 2006

Wednesday, 25 January

So I didn't end up offering any detail of how yesterday progressed for me once I got home; it was late, I was hungry. My commitment to the Blog may not be as fervent as last week [truth be told, I have been clinging to the research in general by my fingernails since the weekend] but I refuse to cast it to one side once and for all.

My meeting with Carlo was decidedly brief. The situation of my supervision has been discussed between himself and Andrew, with the outcome that Andrew — as a confirmed Classicist — will be henceforth assuming official control of steering this thing. Carlo mentioned that he would be happy to offer advice as and when I ask for it [although obviously, he will be rather limited if he is to act as the internal marker for the final project]; for a start, he has offered to return to me the essay I left with him with a few references to Petrarch's vernacular poetry which he said sprung to mind as he read it. I told him that I would appreciate that, knowing little about that subject — since reading the relevant chapter's in Greene's The Light in Troy I think that I may have to reckon with it after all at some point in my study.

That was really the sum of our discussion. As I noted yesterday, I had been planning to carry my laptop on to campus with me and begin writing the Servius chapter, though as I went to pack it up I realised that I wouldn't be able to take with me any of the books that serve as necessary security blankets, if nothing else. Having begun writing today, I feel as though I may only need to take Patterson's Pastoral and Ideology [at a stretch] if I'm ever thinking about writing on-campus again. Much of what's useful is in online articles.

So, yes, I started writing. Managed the start of an introduction that is about 200 words, along with a further 100 in early footnotes [inexplicable, I know] — a soul-destroying total from some three hours' labour. Cobbled something together about the inseparability of Virgil and the commentaries in Petrarch's reading, based on the text of his manuscript. As I continue I will launch into what can be said about the Martini frontispiece — I'm optimistic the words will start to flow a little more easily then.

I had the library drag Pierre de Nolhac's Petrarque et l'Humanisme out of the store. In French, of course, but I have seen it footnoted in so many articles that I've read about Petrarch's Virgil that I thought I'd pick up a copy. With a big dictionary and a guide to grammar I can probably get an idea of what's being said; in a similar fashion, I spent an hour translating the first page of the Virgil chapter Giuseppe Billanovich's Petrarca e il Primo Umanesimo in the PGRR yesterday. Only forty more to go, then.

Discovered today that Charles Martindale will be holding a Research seminar at Warwick on the 16th of next month. Seeing as he is one of the country's senior Virgilianists and an authority on pastoral and on the reception of the Classics, it struck me as I was writing this afternoon that I may well be required to have quite a long talk with him about my research. Nervous.

Work tomorrow, but I would be surprised if study wasn't resumed on Friday.


January 24, 2006

An explanation

I suppose I owe one, seeing as I haven't posted since Wednesday.

I actually ended up working in the Learning Grid Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and each shift left me in no state of willingness to pursue my studies. Since then I've been catching up [Sunday] and continuing with [Monday] Greek and Italian.

During a chance foray into my Classics pigeon-hole yesterday I discovered the two journal articles I requested last week, photocopied and plastic-wrapped courtesy of the British Library. Have read Allegorical Interpretation in Servius by Jones, which prompted me to think about trying to classify [at least approximately] the types of allegory in Virgil and Petrarch — be they historical, personifications of nature, moral-philosophical, religious references, et cetera. Taking a longer article on the frontispiece of Petrarch's Virgil manuscript on to campus with me.

Visiting Carlo Caruso in his office hour [I hope] to discuss the essay I left with him a couple of weeks ago and his thoughts on my project to come. I ran into Zahra Newby in the Classics common room yesterday and she mentioned that I may have to choose between Carlo and Andrew Laird as my supervisor so that one of them will be free to act as an internal marker for my study at the end of the year. There was also a little talk of making a presentation on my research topic some time at the end of term.

Also coming with me on to campus is my laptop, in the hope that if I can settle down in the library for a couple of hours after my meeting with Carlo, I might be able to write an introduction to the Servius chapter. I have a two-hour staff meeting in the BioMed Grid [no sniggering] on Gibbet Hill from 1630; should be home in time to record how I have fared with my progress.


January 18, 2006

Wednesday, 18 January

A day of mediocre accomplishment, it pains me to say. Even though I've already waded through most of the useful bibliography that's available to me, I am pricked by a sense of my unreadiness to start writing. With the more detailed plan I have constructed this afternoon, it occurs that much of what goes in the second half of the chapter [still the problem half] is going to be taken from the essay I wrote last term and simply elaborated. Perhaps with what I have done and learned already, there will be no need to labour again as I did before. There is also, though, the difficulty of knowing exactly the scope of the chapter; what to include without infringing upon the two that will follow on the politics of the Carmen, and on Petrarch's theory of literature.

It may be most useful to begin and allow my ideas to develop as I do. My fears of smashing into a theoretical brick wall as I did with my last essay may prove to be unfounded, as the fact that I have three-quarters of a satisfactory plan should guarantee my completion of at least a few thousand word without too much difficulty. Once I have done what I know falls within the span of the chapter I might be free to leave it and write the others with which it could overlap; I will at least have a better idea of how long the second half of the chapter has to be, if nothing else.

Something to chew over, anyway, as I wile away the hours stocking printers and putting books back on the shelves tomorrow at the Learning Grid. I don't usually get anything in the way of work done on a Thursday, working until five.

What I actually accomplished today:

  • Introduced to comparative adjectives in Greek.
  • Ordered two periodicals on inter-library loan.
  • Carried home a book by Robert Kaster, Guardians of Language, only to find that his chapter on Servius was also published as the journal article I read on JSTOR yesterday.
  • Finished reading Kallendorf chapter on Petrarch, the Africa and the Aeneid.

January 17, 2006

Tuesday, 17 January

Haven’t left the house yet today.

Spent most of the morning and afternoon reading and compiling my ideas on Servius. Having read everything I have [and have yet to read, or haven’t recently looked at] in parts of books and photocopies, I trawled through a few articles on JSTOR—notably a useful piece on biographical allegory in the Eclogues by Raymond Starr.

With that done, I scribbled down a summary of what I could skim off all that on paper before deciding to try to commit a plan to Microsoft Word. I have divided my chapter into a two-part essay with the “hidden question”: For what reasons and in what ways did the Servian commentary shape Petrarch’s reading of the Eclogues? It will focus initially on Servius’ importance and appeal to Petrarch before looking specifically at what of his influence can be deduced in the Carmen. I think I could probably make a decent job of the first half right now but the second will require more reading and pondering.

After that, I read about half of the Petrarch chapter in Kallendorf’s In Praise Of Aeneas - will pick it up again tomorrow. Had to leave it halfway through because of this Greek translation that needed doing - turned out to be lengthier than I remembered, but now finished.

Trundling over to the Leamington Apollo this evening to collect my metrosexual stripes before seeing Buttcrack Mountain. I fear that all I’ve read today of pius Aeneas and his fortitude will do nothing to prevent me from whimpering like a scolded dog before the end credits roll.


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