A Pictorial Interlude

I’ve mainly been doing transfer of status preparation so far this week. I have started biting my nails again. The two things may be connected.

As far as escapism goes, I did panic buy a number of Attic Press titles. I heard about Attic Press, one of Ireland’s second wave feminist publishing houses, at an event earlier in the year. They published some texts about Northern Ireland and a few poetry collections too. Since many of the texts are hard to get hold of now – even the Bodleian doesn’t have many since they were published in Dublin – I thought I’d bolster my personal library with some second hand.

One of the texts is Women in Focus: Contemporary Irish Women’s Lives (1987) edited by Pat Murphy and Nell McCafferty. This is a book of photographs, which makes a pleasant change from the usual books I read for research. I find how masculinity and femininity are presented in these photographs really interesting. No copyright infringement is intended, and the quality isn’t great since I scanned them in.

I’ve blogged other photographs like this before.

Documenting Irish Feminisms: The Second Wave (2005) edited by Linda Connolly and Tina O’Toole also has some great photography, including copies of feminist movement ephemera.

Why Influence?

As I’ve noted before, my thesis plan in the my first year of research has come to circle almost obsessively round the ideas of ‘tradition’, and the inter-related term ‘influence’. These two quotes below are useful to me in that they indicate some of the reasons why the study of inter-generational poetic influence in Northern Irish writing is so fascinating and fruitful.

‘No word comes easier of oftener to the critic’s pen than the word influence, and no vaguer notion can be found among all vague notions that compose the phantom armory of aesthetics. Yet there is nothing in the critical field that should be of greater philosophical interest or prove more rewarding to analysis than the progressive modification of one mind by the work of another’

Paul Valéry, ‘Letter about Mallarme’ in Leonardo, Poe, Mallarme trans. by Malcolm Cowley and James R. Lawler (1972), 241-2.

‘applications [of the term “influence”] include the impact of climate, locale, historical events, literary movements and conventions, social and cultural traditions, and individual writers or works; its forms include borrowings, forgeries, debts, and literary aftermaths, side-effects, and residues of many other kinds.’

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, Victorian Afterlives: The Shaping of Influence in Nineteenth-Century Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 3.

On my own

Since the pile of library books that usually sits accusingly on my desk here has all but run dry I’ve started to think about starting into my next chapter. This may be delirium, but something has to be done. However, this chapter is going to prove a little more tricksy than the previous one.

For the first time, probably in my entire academic career, I’m feeling quite alone with my thoughts on the matter. Basically, I can find no useful criticism to go with, which as a feminist critic is probably the case and point.

I’m ever conscious that there are 11 days until my transfer of status interview. I have no real clue as to how best to prepare for this – other than re-reading the materials I submitted and considering what weaknesses they may probe.

In other study related news I have had my paper ‘ “Where is she?”: Anthologies, Binaries and Northern Irish Poetry’ accepted for the ‘Time & Space in Contemporary Women’s Writing conference (yes, which I am co-organising…). I’ve also had a commission to review a new book, which isn’t unusual in itself, but for the first time the text relates to Irish poetry and feminism.

An Academic Date

It has arrived, ominously, in my inbox. That is – the time and date of my transfer of status interview. I also now know who my assessors will be and have been sizing them up from their departmental profiles (which taught me precisely nothing useful).

So, there we have it. In 16 days it will be nearly over.

Other than that, this week I’ve been preparing for another, unrelated, interview. I’ve also been putting together the PG CWWN newsletter, and reading Flann O’Brien who is my new interest. I like this photo of him very much too.

Macbooks for Academic Work

I’ve had a Macbook Pro for nearly 2 years now. Before that I was a PC user through and through. Having made the leap, I wouldn’t go back. What all those smug mac users say to you, PC user, is true.

In the same spirit of sharing that I indulged in in my workspace post, here is my Mac desk top.


My computer is a massive part of how I work in the modern academy. The amazing battery life of this (around 3-4.5hours) makes it ideal for an afternoon in the library.

The apps I use most are in my dock, and from from left to right they are:

Mac Dock

Finder: the Mac equivalent of My Computer.
Firefox: a stable browser with a nice tabs feature.
Thunderbird: where all my academic and non academic mail goes to – with tabbed viewing and useful search features.
iCal: my calendar – although I’ve started using a moleskine diary instead.
Spotify: one of my favourite music players, although it remains to be seen how the new streaming restrictions will affect me.
iTunes: all my saved music and with no ads!
Skitch: a great piece of software for capturing images of your screen. I used this to take the screen shot.
Evernote: a virtual notebook. I’ve blogged about it before.
Skype: I use this for chatting with friends, but I’ve used it for virtual conference committee meetings too.

Mac Dock 2

Cyberduck: An FTP – mainly used in my freelance web work. I like this one because you can drag and drop.
Word: where I spend large parts of my day.
Endnote: bibliographic software. I’ve blogged about it too.
Twitter: I find twitter.com laggy, but this app is great. I follow some useful academic news feeds.
Alfred: Alfred is a catch all search engine. It searches all my own files, and opens to amazon.co.uk, google etc.
Sound Studio: I use this for editing audio – which is one of my freelance jobs.
Preview: an image and PDF viewer. I like that you can highlight and write on pdfs – including most journal articles.
Pagespinner: a handy html editor without too many frustrating frills.
AnyConnect VPN: This allows me to connect to the university networks from anywhere.

I carry all this precious cargo in a bottle green corduroy Cushcase.



My abstract for the paper I’ll be presenting at ‘The Famed and the Forgotten’ conference is online on the conference website. It is about 6 entries down and titled ‘This Silence is [Un]Ambiguous’: Female Absence in Northern Irish Poetry Pre-1995′.

I’m now off for drinks with other English DPhils who has handed in their transfer of status materials. The sun is shining and the cider is good.


Ms. The Plath Diaries recently blogged a photo of her workspace at home, and, taking her lead I thought I’d share the environment I work in most days.

Workspace - Merifield

This is in my college room, so the furniture is fairly generic. The sun hits my back in the morning and I burn the midnight oil with a desk lamp and sometimes a Sun Jar. In pride of place on the desk is my Macbook Pro which makes my working life pretty sweet. I must post again on how I love my MBP…

When I’m making notes, like I am today, I work in a spiral bound notebook with the text held up by my book holder. The pile of books on the right of the desk are library books – set there to remind me to read and return in a timely fashion. The pile of papers on the left are generally ongoing work or papers I haven’t filed yet. I keep my pens in a mug I love dearly but broke the handle off. A cup of tea, in varying states of fullness, is ever present.

Up on the shelves are the books I have with me at university for some reason or another. The lower shelf is my Irish poetry section – including my primary texts. On the second shelf I keep my other poetry books and some key texts on women’s poetry. Up at the top are poetry magazines, novels and other books that for some reason or another remain with me although they have no relevance to my current work. In front of those books are postcards friends have sent me – the most recent came from Morocco a few weeks ago.

I work from home most days, except for occasional bouts in the library. Sometimes I read literary texts in bed too – although I prefer not to bring critics under my covers!

I’d like to see your workspaces, other academic bloggers!

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