Feb review

I have been neglectful of the blog lately, and while that’s unfortunate for the tiny elect of readers, I have been writing all the same, just not for the blog. Here then is the February review, in all its tattered splendour.

February appears to divide at some point around the 11-12 when my day-book gets very sparse. This is mostly because my time and mental energies were focused exclusively on the always painful ordeal that is the drafting of funding applications. I had a total of 4 to draft this month. 3 await components beyond my control before they can go out next week but they were drafted early in the month so that reviewers had time to look them over. Otherwise, the month is occupied with that peculiar Oxford creature, the “transfer of status project” which is the one bit of academic writing expected of me this year (the link goes to another blogger’s account of her particular experience with the ordeal).


4 funding applications– The 1st was a fairly easy form that required only a little verbiage so not too bad. The 2nd and 3rd, which will be submitted next Wednesday, are one-page statements that explain what I plan to use the money for. Not too hard to write, but not easy either. It does not help that the College give no direction on what these things are supposed to look like. The last one is a standard “statement-references-transcripts-and-tedious-forms” sort of thing that needs to be in London by the 8th. That will be a problem if I don’t have it in the mail by next Tuesday. I am waiting for a transcript and a reference on that one but it’s otherwise ready to go.

Transfer project essay– This is the project that all doctoral students must produce during their 1st year, usually at the end of the 2nd term. It consists of some forms, a 500-1000 word structured abstract of the thesis project and a ‘sample of written work’ that usually consists of some initial musings on the general topic at hand. That sample is in the 3000-5000 word range which is entirely manageable but this is a new sort of genre for me (the extended ‘problem paper’) and I have no idea who will be reading this. Once the project is submitted the history faculty will pick two examiners to read it, and then interview the student to make sure they know what they are doing (beyond what they manage to write down). I had trouble getting started on this one, and while it eventually resolved itself, it was only after I walked through it with my supervisor on Wednesday that I was prepared to accept that it was acceptable. I do have to do some tweaking, but it’s coming along.1

Conference paper abstract– That’s #3 this year alone, although it’s the only one for February, although it was submitted today. Most of the drafting (and it went through 4 complete re-workings) was done mostly in February.

Student support group hand-out– Because I am known to pull out what little leadership ability I have in situations where my own frustration with lack of progress overcomes my profound discomfort with ‘people’ and ‘talking’ I have talked myself into a position of some responsibility for a student-run support group at Oxford for people with specific learning disabilities.2

Research and stuff- made a short trip to London to talk to someone about something, none of which I can actually talk about in any useful detail here. Don’t worry, it’s not that interesting but it’s too much effort to write about it in a suitably oblique way that anyone else would actually care about.

Books– Because I am essentially broke, I’m not buying that many books. I’m still buying books, just not so many that I can’t list them here on a monthly basis.

These two, which I found at Judd books, were mentioned in an earlier post:

Yuval N. Harari, Renaissance Military Memoirs: War, History, and Identity, 1450-1600, (Boydell Press: Rochester, NY, 2004).

C. T Allmand, Henry V, (Yale University Press: New Haven, CT., 1997).

I can add two more association copies to the tiny collection. These two were found at the St Giles Oxfam bookshop and once belonged to Colin Fletcher, now Bishop of Dorchester.

May McKisack, The Fourteenth Century 1307-1399, (Clarendon Press: Oxford, 1959).

J. D. Mackie, The Earlier Tudors 1485-1558, (Clarendon Press: Oxford, 1966).

This was a discard from the History Faculty library:

Denis Stuart, Manorial Records: An Introduction to their Transcription and Translation, (Phillimore: Chichester, 1992).

I found this one amongst the Blackwell’s second-hand stock:

J. R. Partington, A History of Greek Fire and Gunpowder, (Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore,  MD., 1999).

A while ago I set up an Amazon wish-list with affordable books that Z could buy and send me when I deserved them or I was contemplating some drastic way of ending my Oxford exile. Receiving books in the mail is perhaps one of my most primal pleasures and while it feels silly and childish, it also feels really good. Therefore, I am very happy to add these two books to the shelves of my Oxford cell:

Pascal Brioist, Hervé Drévillon, and Pierre Serna, Croiser le fer violence et culture de l’épée dans la France moderne, XVIe-XVIIIe siècle, (Champ Vallon: Orne, 2002).3

Jorge Arditi, A Genealogy of Manners: Transformations of Social Relations in France and England From the Fourteenth to the Eighteenth Century, (University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 1998).

I think that’s about all there is that’s worth mentioning at the moment. That and I’m tired of writing about myself for today.



1 I should mention the electronic wrench cast into the machinery at the last minute and the terrible maiming this caused poor uninsured workers in the anger-mines deep in my brain. I use Librioffice, the open-source word-processing suit and while it’s a perfectly serviceable system, Word does not like the native file format. When I want to save a copy of something for other Word users to edit, I save it in a word format. I saved the last draft of the transfer project as a .docx file and I exported a copy into pdf. Apparently, something went poit! and I lost most of the footnotes in the .docx version. That’s about 38 notes, out of 40. I spent about 2 hours re-building the document out of a cut-and-paste job from the pdf. There were more frustrations in that process than are worth remembering and besides, there are charity drives to attend for the pathetic immigrant workers who lost limbs when the anger-ore rock-face collapsed on them in a torrent of pure molten anger. While my higher functions follow the metaphor of the modern office, my id seems to be trapped in the early years of the industrial revolution.

2 In very limited company (as in the company of Z, or this semi-anonymous forum of a rarely read blog) I call this the sped group (as in, special-ed). I can call it that, you can’t. That’s our word not yours.

3 My French is rudimentary, but I can make out enough to know that this is a really cool book. I love the section titles like “La civilisation de L’épée”, the civilization of the sword. That’s great. I also love the obsessive French take on references. .Oooh those are tiny, tiny fonts in the bibliography.

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