November Review

With a certain ominous inevitability reserved for Greek tragedy, the monthly review has returned to PBS bearing in its ropey arms the trophies and wounds of another 30 days of a DPhil in Oxford. Apparently the review carries some repressed literary aspirations as well. Rest assured, that early flourish is probably all it can muster. Rest in the warm, if dry, embrace of a largely inconsequential update of the last month.

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Two Unlikely Acquisitions


I did not plan on buying books today. Honestly, I have tried not to buy any books since the last painful spree to grab some foundational reading that I could not leave to the libraries to provide. These two books are, at least, very fortunate finds and were affordable (in the most abstract sense of the term).


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Stick to the script… or not, whatever.

Script or no script? That is a question I have answered to my satisfaction, but opinion will vary based on personal taste. The conference last Friday was my 6th conference paper and the 3nd paper to be read from a script. Like the 1st one (actually, the 2nd one chronologically but you get the meaning), it felt clumsy, I read too quickly, I lost my place twice, and I’m not sure the audience was following me. From now on, it’s point-form notes only. Continue reading

It’s hard to keep up with the thinking…

This has been a full week, which is good, but it does cut into my lower priority writing time and that includes PBS blog updates. I have found a few minutes to rub together so here is an update.

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I really should go to this…

Really, I have absolutely no excuse for missing this.

The Conveyor

Medieval manuscripts masterclass

In copying late Middle English, as in copying other languages, scribes in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century England drew on techniques long established in practice but seldom written down. Those techniques of the scribes, their collaborators and their readers can be reconstructed from the manuscripts themselves.

These techniques might sometimes have been ‘tacit’, as good as unthinking; but what is intriguing is the question whether correcting ever reflects conscious ‘second thoughts’ about the text corrected and about the process of copying it into a book. Sometimes scribes fix practical problems in scribal labour; sometimes they stop to emend or even collate texts in ways which suggest their reading of, or attitudes to, the language and works they copy. Correcting is thereby a crucial part both of the history of book production and of an interesting period in the history…

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Weekend reading

During a brief Skype conversation with Z, I lamented my low productivity of late and that I had several things to do on this otherwise unoccupied Saturday. Z thought that perhaps, considering that it was the weekend and a traditional period of rest, that I should skip worrying about work and do something else. Perfectly sensible, except that most of the time, what I consider fun is also very close to what I also consider work. It’s a paradox that the most fun I have usually involves considerable (and not always planned) productivity so fun can be measured as work. Ah well, such is the life of the academically pre-disposed.

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Conference concentration

Writing for a conference audience is hard. You would think, for all the conference papers I have written over the years (the count is 6, if you include the forthcoming one), that this would get easier but It isn’t, yet.

The problem, or so it seems to me at the moment, is that you aren’t writing for a reader, you are writing for a listener and that means your structure and organization can’t follow the patterns you typically use in other writing.

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Breakable swords and tournament scores


I am working on something more substantial for PBS readers at the moment, but I just read something that required some thought, and thought ran to writing and here we are. I’ll take advantage of the aside function in the blog for this one to indicate its ‘superficial’ nature.

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