Welcome (back!)

If you’re new to Writing Haywood, welcome!  There’s an about button at the top of this page for more on who I am/what I do.  I haven’t posted here since October, so clearly I have some catching up to do, but I was recently inspired by a couple of things to start posting again:

A) my ever-lovely dissertation partner, Alison Dean, recently vamped up her own professional site for a conference, and it’s gorgeous! You can swoon over it here.

B) I’ve been revising an article for The Journal of Early Modern Cultural Studies, and it has been an interesting (and hard! and rewarding!) experience, and one that I want to write a longer post on soon, so what better way than to write a mini post before I even write the post? [I have been a PhD student too long.]

C) I also fiddled around with the template for this site (the banner rotates when you refresh the page–fancy!), and I wanted to tell you about a review I have out in Aphra Behn Online.  It’s a review of an edited edition of Haywood’s The Rash Resolve and Life’s Progress, edited by Carol Stewart.  It was so great to see a scholarly, edited version out for the first time, and I enjoyed reviewing it.  You can read it here.  While you’re at it, check out the awesome project that is Aphra Behn Online!  With a focus on women’s writing in the long 18th century, ABO encourages open-access scholarship and other cool, thinking-outside-the-academic-box type things like articles on pedagogy and reviews of websites and art installations.

I guess that’s it for my welcome back, especially since I should be working on my revision [whomp whomp].  Thanks for stopping by, and more soon on applying to/editing/revising your first publication.  Comment below if you want to hear anything specific about the process (I’m looking at you, graduate students) or give any advice about the process (I’m looking at you, seasoned publishers).

To Conference or Not to Conference: That is the Question

My first conference was SEASECS (South Eastern Association for the Society of Eighteenth-Century Studies) in 2008.  It was in Auburn, Alabama, and I was on a panel with my then advisor and two other prominent-in-the-field scholars.  I had no idea that the other two presenters (my advisor was chair) were Big Deals.  I was nervous about giving a paper, sure, but I didn’t know how nervous I should have been.  In hindsight, this was probably a good thing.  I’m sure I delivered a rather mediocre paper, got thrown some softball questions, and then just smiled like it was all a super fun time.  And it was!  I had a good experience; my advisor seemed pleased with me; and I met several people with whom I now have good working relationships.

I think what I liked most about my first conference was the sense of community conferences give you.  When you’re working on texts hardly anyone ever reads, and when your friends and family can barely explain what you do (let alone listen to you when you talk about it), it feels particularly nice to go to a place for a few days and have everyone speak your language.  Yeah, there are some super awkward moments that usually go down at these events (you can’t really put a whole bunch of awkward people together and not expect that to happen), but for the most part, I’ve found that people my age are generally willing to talk about the hell of grad school, their own projects, and yours.  There are also lots of junior and senior scholars who are genuinely helpful and kind.  Of course, there are also snotty grad students, junior scholars who would rather die than seen socializing with grad students, and senior scholars who make fun of student papers (yes, I’ve seen this happen).  But for the most part, conferences have always seemed like a safe haven of ideas and conversation for me, and I genuinely like going to them.

Which leads me to the point of this post: how much conference-going is too much conference-going?  As someone who is dissertating from afar, I find that the conference setting helps relieve my feelings of isolation and provides me (usually) with good feedback for whatever I’ve been working on.  And so I tend to go to conferences perhaps more than the usual grad student.  Since the start of this year alone, I’ve been to three.  This has been a bit of a strain financially, but it’s also been worth it in many ways.  I got back two days ago from my most recent conference (which was exceptionally collegial and awesome) and began to wonder if I’d over-extended myself.  I’ve been to two conferences this month alone (oops), and my actual DISSERTATION CHAPTER has been given very little, if any, attention (whomp whomp).  So here are some things I want to remind myself of (and maybe you, you young jedi) as I start thinking about the next year and the next CFPs start parading themselves into my inbox:

1)  This is just a draft, right? Wrong: My current advisor told me a while back that I should only go to conferences when I had something solid to present (read: not a draft) and that people would begin to recognize me at these events and string together my paper-giving performances (as well as gauge my level of scholarship).  While I think this is sound advice, I also think it can be really helpful to read drafts and get feedback from a larger collective group of knowledge.  Which is basically what I’ve been doing lately (and hoping for the best in the Q&A).  So how do I reconcile my advisor’s advice with my own penchant for procrastination and thinking that a draft will suffice?  Well, I think that maybe I need to STEP UP the level of paper I give at conferences, but I still don’t think it has to be an airtight argument.  At the conference I went to in March, I gave a fairly clean, mostly completed version of the first chapter of my dissertation.  It was received well.  The last two conferences I have been to, I have presented and co-presented on two difference aspects of my current chapter.  The co-presented paper was argumentatively sound and the writing was clean, but we didn’t get much feedback due to there only being a whopping 3 people in the audience (sigh).  At this most recent conference, I gave yet another version of this chapter, and again–almost entirely radio silence.  And I’m genuinely not sure if it was because what I was presenting (which has an art history bent) is so far out there from the usual, or if it was because my paper was not strong.  Which leads me back to the point of this paragraph: I think it’s important to find a good combination of thoroughly thought-out and draft-like.  I want to be better prepared and remind myself that conferences aren’t all about the socialization.  They are also about giving a thorough synopsis of your work, one that you can be proud of.

2) Professionalization: As I mentioned earlier, I think socialization is really important for me at conferences.  I’m sure other people feel this way, too (there wouldn’t be so many lunch plans hurriedly made in hallways between sessions, or dinners out with long-standing friends if that wasn’t the case).  But at my stage in the game (starting year five of the ol’ PhD), I think professionalization might be even more important than socialization (I can hear all you grad students gasping already.  Close your mouths).  I’m not saying that it’s a bad idea to go out and have a drink (or four if you’ve presented that day) at night with your friends, but I’m also reminding myself (and you) that it’s important to make contacts that you can call on later, too.  I carried my cards with me this time and handed them out to anyone who looked like they might want one.  I gave them to people my own age and even a couple to senior scholars who might be able to help me with my work on down the road.  But I wish I’d done more of this kind of thing.  I was feeling so self-conscious about my lack-of-paper-response that I think I failed to be approachable and interested when I could have made even more contacts and connections.

So for next year, I think I’ll choose my conferences more wisely.  I won’t apply to more than three, and those three must be fairly spread out (no more doing 2 in one month again…ever).  I’ll also make sure that the proposals I turn in have something to do with the research work I’ll be doing around the time of the conference.  I’ll prepare in advance and have a good hybrid between a draft and a well-curated paper.  I’ll make sure the paper is written before the conference so I don’t miss panels holed up in my hotel room writing (or rocking back and forth while weeping silently).  I’ll also make sure I’m confident enough in my own work that people not being able to respond to it doesn’t make me want to crawl up in the fetal position.  These are all strong exhortations for a girl who usually “does her best work under pressure,” but I think they merit a blog post here to remind me of exactly what I’m feeling now–and how to curb that the next time around.Image

I saw this in the back of the American Airlines magazine, which I was reading on the flight to the conference instead of writing my paper.  It’s pretty magical, though, right?

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!

Happy world poetry day: “To Mrs Eliza Haywood”

I’ve been looking at the poetry both by Eliza Haywood and about her that is  featured in Miscellaneous Poems and Translations. By Several Hands. Publish’d by Richard Savage, Son of the Late Earl Rivers (1726).  My next chapter will feature representations of Eliza Haywood as an author featured in paratextual material, and commendatory poetry like this makes a great case for showcasing how others helped form (or tried to change) a particular image of Haywood’s authorship.  Here’s a poem by Richard Savage about Haywood’s amatory novel entitled The Rash Resolve, which was published in 1723:

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“Doom’d to a Fate, which Damps the Poets Flame”–“Fate” here refers, I think, to the negative attention that Haywood’s salacious novels would have garnered; dampening, as Savage suggests, Haywood’s poetic “flame,” or natural talent.

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Continuing to elevate Haywood’s status as prose writer, Savage commends her ability to apply a certain realism in sketching her characters and scenes: “in thy full Figures, Painting’s Force we find/ As Music fires, Thy Language lifts the Mind.”  Savage is clearly making a case for the value of Haywood’s writing.

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Savage then pairs his value judgement with diction that directly reflects Haywood’s reputation as Arbitress of Passion: words such as “yields,” “luxuriant,” “warm,” “heat,” “passion,” “sway,” “transport,” “rage,” and “pain” are all common amatory terminology and would have been very familiar to readers.

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“Can love from love retire?” I.e., can Eliza write anything else? The image of the female author at the end is especially interesting to me.  The writer (presumably female?) is sitting in a garden setting, with a cock to her left, and a lamp on her right.  I’ll let you guys unpack that symbolism.

The images are from Eighteenth Century Collections online.  The full citation is as follows:

Miscellaneous poems and translations. By several hands. Publish’d by Richard Savage, Son of the late Earl Rivers. London,  MDCCXXVI. [1726]. Eighteenth Century Collections Online. Gale. Simon Fraser University. 21 Mar. 2013
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