The Red Pen Day

Today is the day I took a red pen to a hard copy of the document titled ‘final-final-draft.doc’. I oddly quite like this process because it feels like I am marking my own work and since I, generally, like it very much I imagine for brief moments that the examiners will find no faults whatsoever.

I like nothing more than a good end-of-essay wordle – so here it is!

So, I’m off to hand it in and then enjoy a good, long, bank holiday. Like a working person.

The Deadline Cometh!

I’m now back on the side of the Irish Sea I need to be on to hand in the material for the transfer of status. Thanks to the crazy bank holiday situation the deadline is now next Tuesday, but in order to enjoy the crazy bank holiday situation I’m hoping to get it handed in on the Thursday before the crazy…

I deliberately didn’t look much at the draft after I received feedback last term, preferring easter eggs and my new PS3 to productivity. I’m glad I gave it some time to breathe, because getting back to it today has been entertaining. Yes, at one stage I made a ludicrous claim that all poetry is democratic because it all comes from the same (mysterious and unspecified) place. This is a hoot, but has been deleted. Phew.

So, the deadline cometh like a bogeyman stumbling upon the village that poetry and criticism co-habit in. [This is no stranger than the mad bit of The Anxiety of Influence].

Cometh the hour, cometh the feminist critic?

Thinking Conference-ward

Ms. The Plath Diaries has been posting about the wonderful world of academic conferences. She even has some useful tips on presentations, which I reccommend. This has reminded me, during my ‘holiday’, that I’m preparing a few conference related things in the next little while.

One is the paper I’m presenting at the Oxford English postgraduate conference, organised in part by Ms. Clamorous Voice. Most of the hard work has been done for this – although goodness knows what I’ll wear. I dislike fashion, if you weren’t aware.

Another thing I’ve been mulling around a bit is a plan for an abstract for another conference, which is due in before the end of April. The problem with this one is that it sounds good in three lines, but I’m not sure how to string it along for 20 minutes. In fact, I think the most important part of an abstract is not to suggest you will present on something you can’t/won’t/don’t actually want to present on. This is a no brainer, but sometimes I start on an abstract that flails wildly with some vague motion towards an obscure and wholly inappropriate conference theme. This generally happens on my down days, when my inbox seems to promise adulation at a sci fi conference in Nova Scotia.

Finally, I’m also working on the PG CWWN conference on ‘Time and Space in Contemporary Women’s Writing’. The deadline for abstracts for this is approaching – May 1st, by the way.

Really, however, the whole point of this post was to point excitedly at this song – ‘At the Academic Conference’.

The Occasional Retrospect

I’ve been on the down low for a while now. There could be a few reasons for this, but the fact I recently bought a PS3 accounts for one week and the fact that I’m back in Northern Ireland for Easter accounts for another. This holiday is an actual holiday too – the first in living memory – since I deliberately didn’t book hold luggage so I wouldn’t be able to bring books home. Time off win!*

Some of my blogging friends have begun posting retrospects (lists of interesting links and news). I know I am far too lax to bother with this weekly, so here is the first of my occasional retrospects.

*Except for that pesky second hand bookshop down the road and those damn online resources.

Dorothy the Sheep expresses her concern at this time of Easter lunches.

Supervisory Celebrations

Today was the special day in the diary of this DPhil student when I go to perch on the sofa and hear the verdict on my latest bit of research. There were three kinds of good news: 1.) my work doesn’t need substantial revision, just a few little tweaks, before hand in for the transfer of status; 2.) my supervisor isn’t retiring in September after all, in fact, he’ll be here for basically the rest of my thesis; 3.) He has a new grandson. Celebration all round.

My supervisor asked some poignant questions I’ll be mulling over, although they won’t necessarily fit into my thesis. One is why Louis MacNeice seems to be the presiding influence on much contemporary Northern Irish poetry, as opposed to, say, Yeats or Clarke. Another is why Paul Muldoon is so popular with the younger poets. My wooly attempts at responses in the session were something along the lines of perceived ‘cool-ness’, although that seems a very strange term to use for poetry.

One thing I’ve always said that sets research apart from most other ‘real jobs’ is that the thesis never sleeps. I had a rousing reminder of this today when I read a book review and had an epiphany along the lines of ‘He did say that. Wait – she has a poem about that. And she reviewed a book of his too!’

Fingers crossed there are no epiphanies of a critical nature in the pub tonight.

Two Maps

The supervision that I was meant to have today has been postponed since my supervisor has been awaiting the birth of his first grandchild. I guess I’ll let him off this one time..

I’ve been working on some background reading and thinking towards my next chapter which will focus more on women’s traditions – or the lack thereof – in contemporary Northern Irish poetry. I’m quite excited about this bit…

While browsing for presents for myself presents for mother’s day I came across this literary map of the UK.

Literary map of the UK

A few things strike my about this, other than the quite reasonable price tag of £9.95. One is the border aspect – as in that the Republic of Ireland doesn’t seem to exist despite the fact that many Irish writers (pre-partition) were incredibly important to English literature. The other is the gender of the Northern Irish writers – Flann O’Brien, Seamus Heaney, Louis MacNeice, C.S. Lewis, Robert Graecan, John Hewitt and Derek Mahon. No surprises, but yet more reinforcement of the all male tradition.

The second map is from the cover of a book I currently have out from the English Faculty Library, which incidentally provides an interesting contrast.

Changing Ireland

Yup, that is a map of the whole of Ireland made out of women’s bodies. I’m no nationalist, but I increasingly feel that Northern Irish literature can’t ignore the contexts from the south, even if they are vastly different. The other message is that feminist analysis and women’s writing can go some way to changing the landscape. I’m all for that.

‘Time off’ – A period when a PhD student waits for feedback.

So, something has been sent to my supervisor for feedback. For a short period yesterday I felt like my eyes had retreated into my skull – eye strain is no joke kids. Either way I’ve met the deadline I set myself and can look forward to receiving feedback on Tuesday.

10000 / 10000 words. 100% done!

I have practically a small compost heap worth of used tea bags in my bin. My bookshelves are out of order. I have red pen on my hands. I have some mild RSI (RSI *not* STI, thank you). I have only communicated with the outside world via Skype all week. I still think cous cous is instant food developed by higher life forms.

Now I can remove myself  from my laptop I shall go for coffee, get some food in (not cous cous), wash up the mug collection on my desk and otherwise recharge for a bit. Oh, and maybe go to the library… no?

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