Catch-up, catch-all

Hello!  I’ve been a pretty delinquent blogger.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve posted at all this summer.  Apologies to anyone out there who cares.  May was a mad dash to finish a chapter, and June and July have been a mad dash to research and read for another chapter.  The circle is, unfortunately, unbroken.  But the good news is that I find this chapter moving along much more quickly after the slog that was the last.  I’m not sure my committee was entirely happy with the finished-for-now draft of the last chapter, but hey, it’s tabled for now (thank you, PhD gods!).  And the main thing I’ve learned from dissertating is that there will always be revisions.  My friend Ali calls the process “revisercising.”  And good lord is revisercising difficult.  It’s like  a small taste of Prometheus’s plight.  Except minus the liver being pecked out part.  Anyway, you, my target audience, probably already know all about this, so I’ll stop regaling you with tales of revisionary woe.  Instead, I’ll tell you about my recent trip to Vancouver.

As you may know, I dissertate from afar, so trips back to the motherland (Simon Fraser University) are precious gems in which I get to see all my advisors, close friends, and basically gain wind in my sails on which to float back to my isolated academic existence in Atlanta (it’s really not so bad, but it wasn’t very fun to be a little fledgling at first).  Anyway, I had a lovely time in Vancouver.  I had two meetings with my primary advisor, one with my second reader, one with my third, and two meetings with librarians.  I also had plenty of (in person!) State of the Union-esque talks with my dissertation partner, and lots of life talks with people who support me in this degree.  It’s amazing what a little sunshine (in rainy Vancouver!) and good talks will do for morale.  So here are some life and work pictures to bring my blog up to speed:

ImageChapter two is on Visual Representations of Haywood, and so I’ve been scouring various miscellanies from about 1700-1730ish to find uses of printers ornaments in texts that directly correlate to ideas of authorship (just thought I’d catch you up on what I’ve been up to before I launch into more narrative about being back at school).  This one is from Anne Finch’s Miscellany Poems, On Several Occasions (1713). These cherubs are quite obviously female, but my advisor pointed out (this is why we have advisors!) that they look like amazons–each has a smaller or deformed right breast.  This got me thinking about the correlations between Anne Finch’s proclaimed resistance to publication (“Did I, my lines for public view/ How many censures would their faults pursue…”) and the obvious authoritative nature of a printer’s ornament with two amazon cherubs clutching laurels.  There seems to be some sort of effort on the part of printers to use printer’s ornaments as narrative devices, and this next chapter will look at these ornaments and try to make such a claim.  I’m also co-presenting a paper with my colleague, Alison Dean, about printer’s ornaments and portraiture and the ways in which visual culture shapes our understanding of 18th century female authorship.  It’s so fun to use Ali’s expertise in photography (she’s a modernist who’s working on photography) to critically read these ornaments and portraits.  At some point, I’d like to write a post on collaborating as a PhD student, but I’ll put that one aside for now until we have some more experience under our collective belt.  Anyone with any tips on academic collaboration should feel free to leave us some advice in the comments!

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Here’s another example of the cross-over between representations of female authorship in text and in printer’s ornament.  This is a banner in Miscellaneous Works in Prose and Verse of Mrs. Elizabeth Rowe.  Doesn’t that profile of the woman in the banner just exude authority?  Framed by cherubs and scroll, this woman sits at the center of the banner and announces the beginning of a new text in the Miscellany.  On a pedestal and ensconced within her own frame, we can read the woman as both separate from the reader (the Author) and as intimate to us (the frame is indicative of a broach, an intimate little portrait to be worn at the neck).  Certainly, she demands our attention.  It’s been fun to look at these ornaments in works by/about Haywood and to expand this to ornaments in the works of Finch, Rowe, Pope, and Richardson.  I look forward to seeing where both this chapter and my collaboration with Ali take this idea of narrative and visual symbiosis.  But back to Vancouver:

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School flags at the downtown business campus

The connections between the visual and the textual seem to bleed off the pages of eighteenth-century texts and into my life.  Something about just getting to see things like SFU’s flags made me feel more hopeful about my existence in Atlanta and my dissertation in general.  Of course, this was bolstered by a lot of good support from friends and committee members, but sometimes you just need to be in a place, you know?  And speaking of being in a place:

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Ali took this one (^) of me in my office.  I still have an office because I’m a tutor marker for an online course, but it’s the same office I had when I was around, so it feels kind of like an office home.  And the weather was so sunny and perfect outside my window–not unlike another gift from the PhD gods.  Here’s me, the Vancouver Skyline, and a perfectly wonderful sunset:

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All in all, this was a perfectly bolstering trip.  Next up, the British Library in the Fall!

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