All 20 entries tagged Research

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March 24, 2006

Friday, 24 March

Completed, in 400 words, the Introduction to Chapter III. Total count is about 800.

Myself, standing 250 metres above the city of Edinburgh, March 2006

Should be no significant [that is, longer than a whole day] interruptions to writing till next weekend, when I'm planning on returning home [near Portsmouth] for a few days. Few midweek shifts at Learning Grid shouldn't stop me ploughing on through this little nasty.

Enjoyed muchly time spent in Edinburgh with Kate this week. I returned home nursing still the heels which carried me up and over its many miles of slanted landscape, moistening still the lips which had been dried to old wallpaper by a fierce north-wind and mastering still the heebie-jeebies which kept me from venturing on one of the city's infamous graveyard tours.

Small feature on Gavin Douglas [16th-century poet who translated the Aeneid into vernacular Scotch] in the Museum of Scotland has got me thinking about the possibility of doing some research on English translations of Virgil. Will bounce off Andrew whenever it is our paths next cross.

I hope that tomorrow will bring — for the first time in a long time — back-to-back entries in the Intellectual Junkyard.

March 19, 2006

Sunday, 19 March: five 'o' clock update

300 words! Believe that we're away!

Sunday, 19 March

Almost two weeks without a blog entry = two weeks without really working.

Though, I am back on it once again today. What time that wasn't spent at Kate's house in Stoke-on-Trent this past week was used to creep down a number of different blind alleys, reading books that — although useful in a general sense — are not strictly relevant to the chapter I am [still] preparing to write. After a mini breakthrough on Friday I have managed now to draw a scanty plan together.

My previous question, I realised, was rather missing the point — I was too hasty with it. Now, the chapter is explaining how the influence of Virgil is evident in the representation of political [nationalist] ideology in the Bucolicum Carmen. What is rather good is that I should be able to lift much of the main body of the chapter from the preliminary essay I wrote at Christmas, though it will require explaining and elaborating to fatten it from 2,500 words to more like 7,000. Still, it's a bit of a weight off and renews my failing faith in the prospect of this thing being written by two weeks into the summer term. Say, four or five weeks?

I have been struck by the fact that I probably won't be able to stretch to a whole chapter the strictly "poetic" imitation of Virgil in the Bucolicum Carmen, which was to be the third chapter that I spend the summer term writing. I think I will have to amalgamate with the one on "concepts of the pastoral genre" in the Eclogues and the BC. So I'm currently working to a scheme of five chapters of 7,000 words each, plus Introduction, Conclusion [?], Bibliography. Thankfully, I have discovered from Zahra that nothing will be lost from my failing to hand the whole thing in on 30 September, although I am advised [and obviously, of a mind] to try to have it done as soon as possible, and not budget for an extra year.

Have heard much encouraging talk from the lecturers about PhD study after this, even if my plan of taking at least a year to brush up my skillz [numchuk, computer hacking] and research a thesis is set inexorably. Once I hump the weight of this thing off my shoulders at the end of the year I shall be in no state to carry on another three.

Kate and I are going to Edinburgh tomorrow, till Wednesday. It seems likely I'll have more recent daguerrotypes to upload to my Blog gallery next weekend. After we return, I should have at least a full solid week to finally make good on my promises to work hard this vacation.

March 08, 2006

Wednesday, 08 March

For anybody who's been left wondering: yes, I did finish my chapter this weekend after six arduous weeks of writing. I say "finished" — I haven't written the last couple of sentences, because I haven't quite worked out what they should say. Right now, I close with a less-than-favorable judgement along the lines of "many modern readers would deem that the Bucolicum Carmen is written more in the spirit of commentator than of poet," and I'm yet to fathom how I'm going to spin it into something more positive.

As far as I'm concerned, anyway, that's finished.

I emailed Andrew on Monday morning to let him know, but have up to now heard nothing back. I have mentioned that I'm in no hurry to have him read it — seeing as he has looked at it as a work-in-progress more than once in the past couple of months. Still, I may drop by his office tomorrow afternoon to talk about the chapter I want to try to write over the coming vacation. Currently, I plan to build it around some question loosely resembling how does the representation of political ideology differ in Virgil's Eclogues and in the Bucolicum Carmen? My idea is to scrape a plan together tomorrow while at work. Heh.

The last two days, unfortunately, have been lost to an exultant squandering of my time. I know that I can't really afford to spend much more time than I already have just aimlessly drifting; I firmly intend [against my nature] to crack on again before — erm — Friday..?

March 01, 2006

Wednesday, 01 March

So I may have mentioned that I've been called in to work at the BioMed Grid this evening. Rather than go on to campus for Greek 12–1 and then spend the next six hours sloping around trying to get some work done, I opted to continue with the set translations of Socrates' suicide from home and use the afternoon to sit and write my Servius chapter instead.

600 words is hardly anything to be proud of in a good few hours' work, but I believe nonetheless that I have the thing almost killed off, at last. With my present word-count at 5,500 I intend to add another 500 words or so on metaphors of patronage in the Bucolicum Carmen along with a relatively brief conclusion — something I wrapped up rather nicely in my head earlier this afternoon, I feel.

The main problem I have encountered — all the way through this chapter, really — has been my inability to decide on the parameters of the topic and subsequent agonising over what to include and what to omit lest I leave myself short in those that I've still to write [on politics, on poetics]. I probably wasted an hour when I started today in just such a bind. I hope that with the chapters to come I am able to compile a more detailed plan than I was for this one…

Anyway, my target is to have the chapter all finished by this coming Monday. If I manage a few hours' work on Friday, Saturday, Sunday then this should [I stress] be achievable. If I'm not proved hopelessly naive [moreso], then I'll have missed my self-imposed 23 February deadline by only about ten days — which I wouldn't consider a despicable failure. Probably. From there, the plan would be to try to finish off a second chapter, ideally before the start of summer term.

Please, please. Don't laugh.

February 28, 2006

Tuesday, 28 February

Presentation seemed to be a success. When I read it through on the bus this morning I realised that it could do with being a couple of minutes longer, so I hared into the computer room to tack on an extra two-hundred words to the script and scrape together a hasty supplement for my handout. I drew all of the other MA students, PhD student extraordinaire Conor 'C-Man' Whately as well as Zahra Newby, Penny Goodman, Simon Swain and Dan Orrells. Carlo turned up as we were leaving the room, thinking it was at one 'o' clock rather than noon — I assured him that he missed nothing he hadn't already read from my essay last term.

I think that I was able to keep everything intelligible for the class [of whom no-one really knew anything about Petrarch] and I fielded a hatful of questions afterward [sounding, I think, like I genuinely knew what I was talking about] prompting a discussion of maybe twenty minutes. Zahra also remarked favourably on my slick-looking handout in 10 pt Arial. It may be that I give a follow-up presentation [possibly on the subject of my current chapter — that is, focusing on the influence of Servius in the process of this imitation] at the PhD open day on 18 May.

Have added to my chapter a pitiful total of about 150 words in over two hours this afternoon. I plan to spend all of tomorrow [or at least, the parts when I'm not translating for Greek or working at the — sigh — BioMed Grid] moving this awful thing towards its elusive conclusion.

Now, I have to go. Masterchef, you understand.

February 27, 2006

Monday, 27 February

Inched past the mini-milestone that is the final subheading [probably] of my Servius chapter just now. Having finished the section on Petrarch's writing the Bucolicum Carmen to accommodate the tastes of uber-finicky grammatical commentators, I now have only to complete the section on his reworking of the Servian idea of pastoral as a metaphor for the intellectual's existence. For sure, easier said than done — though I feel now that the end is very nearly in sight.

Word count is about 4,700 — so I'm on target in that respect as well.

Speaking of "intellectual existence": my research presentation on that very topic will be rolling into town tomorrow at high noon, with a six-shooter in its belt and a cigarette wedged between its teeth. If you're the macabre sort with a penchant for zinging bullets, spattered bloodstains and unadulterated ultraviolence, then I do recommend you come along. There are twelve handouts — copied at the hand of Josie Brown herself, no less, this very afternoon — to go around.

"A man's life in these parts often depends on a mere scrap of information"

Expect to spend the rest of the evening practising tomorrow's schtick.

Last Italian lecture today, with exams and revision sessions incumbent from now until the end of the year. Tutor Simon Gilson remarked that I have shown a strong improvement since joining the class [which, considering that I couldn't exactly go backwards starting from scratch, is something of a relief]. The idea now is that I spend a couple of hours every week grappling with some of the Italian texts that Carlo Caruso recommended to me at the beginning of the year.

February 22, 2006

Wednesday, 22 February

I believe the accurate term to describe what I've been having the past two days is "a mare". Among various other random acts of senselessness, I have realised [after a period of one week] that while I was out running errands on Valentine's day afternoon, I managed to somewhere misplace a book that my housemate had borrowed for me from Bristol University library. Attempts to track it down have been unsuccessful and the odds of it turning up anywhere have to be slim to nil. I have been in touch with librarians at Bristol and if it should remain lost three weeks from now, then I will do very well to have to pay only £25 to replace it.

Unfortunately, a full £50 is probably a more realistic estimate.

And so preoccupied was I on the bus this afternoon, taken by a sudden impulse to dash down from the top deck and tear Robert Dyas' to pieces with my bare hands to look for it, that I left my woolie gloves lying on the seat. It's very trying, being such a moron.

In brighter news, I have approximately 24 hours to meet my self-imposed deadline for finishing the Servius chapter. Considering my present rate and dearth of ideas, direction or motivation, I think that I would do well to have it done before the end of term. I have today returned to the writing after a hiatus of almost ten days, and added about 300 words in the last few hours. Attempted to revise the plan that is blu-tacked on the wall next to my desk so as to try to plot a course through this shadowy second-half of the chapter, but have ended up with something essentially the same as I had before. Of no consolation is the fact it still took me an hour-and-a-half to do that.

Trialled my seminar presentation for Kate last evening; such a sweet heart, to willingly sit through it twice. She said that although it was good, she found it confusing in more than one place and that I'd probably benefit from stressing more frequently my key points. The handout that I spent yesterday afternoon compiling was also, she said, difficult to follow. All in all I think that it won't require much more work and should go well, still.

Working at BioMed Grid tomorrow, till four. I'm optimistic that I may be able to steal a little ground before that deadline goes whooshing past, though.

February 20, 2006

Monday, 20 February

Just finished the script for my seminar presentation — such an alien feeling to actually conclude a piece of work. It may require a few alterations and I still have to compile the handout but on the whole I think it should go off a treat.

That's next Tuesday, the 28th, at 12pm in H204.

Under The Beech: Representations of the Poet's Existence in the Bucolics of Virgil and Petrarch

Do come.

February 12, 2006

Sunday, 12 February

Took an hour and a half to add the 280 words needed to kill off that stubborn little section concerning Petrarch's ubiquitously allegorical reading of the Eclogues that was the basis for his imitation. I am now officially at the half-way point in the chapter [count is just a shade over 3500] and happy to show Andrew my progress tomorrow. The difficulty is that I am venturing now into unchartered territory; my plan for the latter half of the chapter -- dealing specifically with the Servian elements of the Bucolicum Carmen — is so wishy-washy that I fear it may need a complete revamp before I get going.

Still. Something to do tomorrow.

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