Saturday, May 30, 2009

I'm leaving in 36 hours or so

... for a month-long research trip, and my to-do list (see sidebar) has far too many items on it, many of which have to be done in the office, the morning of the day I leave (afternoon departure).

Lord help me.

Note to self: don't let laptop computer get stolen this time.

UPDATE: The Sunday to-do list is done! I mean, I've been living on diet coke all day, but I should be okay, provided I can get up at a decent hour tomorrow.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Image Interpretation: The Answer

Thanks so much to everyone who weighed in with comments on the last post.** Many people wanted the "answer," so I thought I'd post it here.

So, the first image is from a c. 13 MS of an illuminated copy of Justinian's Digest, depicting a manumission of a slave (rootlesscosmo got this, but cheated by actually reading the text -- pfftt!). People were certainly correct about the status difference between the two women, but had the relationship a bit backwards. I think the left two figures are a married couple. The right-hand figure is a judge, rather than a king -- Squadrato, good call on the ermine-trimmed robes, but they are also linked with particularly high-ranking justices, it seems. Either that, or the illuminator thinks that they should be.

The second image depicts a mother and her child coming before... who? Squadrato says a king, because of the crown and sword (both symbols of royal or at least high-ranking administrative authority), but the description I have describes the authority figure as a judge. Personally, I agree with Squadrato's assessment. On the other hand, this is from another Justinianic MS, so perhaps the illuminator just threw in whatever symbols of authority he could think of.

As for which is "best," I think the comments by Susan and GoodEnoughWoman are right on target: it depends on the type of interchange I'm trying to depict here. Is justice top-down, or is there the possibility of input from both sides?

In any case, I've also dug up a couple of other illustrations, but these are more colorful. I'm still not sure what I'm going to go with. But your comments have really helped me sort out how I feel about them. So thanks!


**Previous post poofed to avoid copyright issues.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Can you stand more good news?

I have tenure.

This has been a Very Good Week.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to do a couple hours of grading, then meet for lunch with the redoubtable Historiann!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Something I Hadn't Even Considered

Well now. Now that I've got the contract, it turns out there is a whole new world of things I haven't even considered yet, so I'm going to send up a cry for help. And it boils down to two words:

Cover art.

I mean, really. All I was thinking of was writing something that looked vaguely like a book. Make sure the argument is there. Check the references. Satisfy the readers. But cover art? Furthest thing from my mind. But now it seems like I've got to think about it.

There seem to be two types of cover art for a book on some aspect of the Middle Ages: the photograph of some medieval-y building, or a manuscript illumination. My camera isn't good enough to take one of the former (my best work tends to be close-up details, but I suppose that I might -- MIGHT -- run across something on my trip). As for MS illuminations, I work with texty stuff, rather than pictures, so I haven't even been looking for these things.

Anybody out there had to deal with this? What were your best sources? Really, any and all suggestions are welcome, because I don't even know where to start. Oh, and just by the way, I'm going to be the one responsible for getting the permissions, so I'm looking for something relatively straightforward.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Friday, May 15, 2009

Other things

No post today. Just a picture, to remind me that I used to be able to leave the apartment and walk around.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Just in time for finals week...

...I have a flu. The feverish, achy-all-over kind. It was bad enough that, for the first time in my career, I actually had someone cover my class (evaluations day) and went home. I've been in and out of bed all afternoon, and expect this to keep up for the next couple of days. The same friend who covered my class is also being good enough to make a grocery store run for me (store is a mile away, and walking or riding my bike that far is out of the question for me right now).

The bad news (other than the general badness that is the flu) is that I'm missing a couple of things I had planned for the weekend -- an end-of-the-year departmental party (more fun than it sounds like) and a three-times-a-semester seminar that actually has some very interesting papers this time. I've e-mailed and made my apologies.

The good news (wholly unrelated) is that FabEd e-mailed to let me know that the book has been approved by accounting/marketing. That's the last step before it goes to the board. So hooray!

Oofh. That last hooray took my last ounce of energy. So I'll kill a couple more minutes before dear friend arrives with my provisions. Then I'm going to try to remain awake for the next couple of hours, go to bed at a normal-ish time, and let my body rest.

UPDATE: Dear Friend just showed up with diet ginger ale, herbal tea, orange juice, grapes, and vegetarian Thom Yum (clear spicy-gingery-lemongrassy broth) from my favorite thai place. C. popped over from next door to check on me. And G. (another colleague who, like C., lives in the same group of apartments) heard that I was sick, and picked up ginger snaps for me at Trader Joe's. It's always good to have friends, but it's especially good when you're sick.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Tale of Three Book Projects

So, I'm home from Kalamazoo. I slept 8 1/2 hours, which has me almost caught up. I'm planning to write a post soon on my reflections on the panel on anonymity/pseudonymity and academic blogging, but right now it's time for the report on my adventures in book publishing. And those adventures are threefold:
  1. The first-book project: Good news here. I met with Fabulous Editor on Saturday, and we went over my response to readers. He told me that he thought it was just fine, and that he anticipated that the board would approve it at their meeting this month. We talked about scheduling issues, and I gave him a date for completed revisions that was about two weeks beyond when I thought they'd actually be done.** I also asked him if he thought it would be out in time for next year's k'zoo. He seemed to think that there was an outside chance that it might, but that more likely we'd be at the stage where the press booth wouldn't have an actual book, but could display a spiral-bound mock-up with page proofs. It all sounded very encouraging. But we also spent about half the meeting talking about...
  2. Shiny New Project: When I drafted my response to readers, I followed the excellent suggestion of a more experienced historian and worked in a sentence that hinted at what my next project would be. I stuck it in the timeline information for revisions ("I will be out of the country during the month of June, conducting preliminary research for my next book project on [X], but should be able to finish most of the revisions in July..."). After FabEd and I had finished up with the business of the first book, he asked me about the second one, and we talked about the two ideas I was working on. Shiny New Project was really the one that caught his attention, even though it's less like a traditional monograph. At the end, he said, "I think that one is your next project." This gives me hope that there may be some advance interest there.
  3. Edited Volume: I met up with would-be collaboratrix about an idea for an edited volume that she & I have been discussing for a year now. She's been hard to nail down, and I'd been wondering if I ought to forge ahead on my own, but I really, really didn't want to, because she's done two edited volumes already, and I dearly want the benefit of that experience. But this year I found out exactly how much she's had on her plate, and why I hadn't heard from her. And happily, she's still interested. We had a good strategy talk, and she even sounded out a very good press on the idea -- and they're interested. So it looks like this one is going forward as well, and with some expertise that I seriously lack. Hooray! I do have some anxieties about this project: I think it really, really needs to be done, but everyone I know who has done an edited volume has advised me to run screaming from the room. Still, I'm going to give it a go, with the hopes that collaboratrix's experience will help smooth out the rough spots. And hey, this is new publishing territory for me, so it will give me fodder to expand on the original purpose of this blog without repeating myself too much.
So... I have a research (and blogging!) agenda going forwards, enough to keep me occupied for the next 3-5 years, at least. That's good news, right?


**A strategic move on my own part, though I probably should have gone for a month. No one would object if I turned it in early, after all.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Chronica Kalamazensis, Saturday Edition

I came. I saw. I danced.


(There was some other stuff having to do with a great meeting with Fabulous Editor, and a meeting with collaboratrix, with whom I'll be working on an edited volume over the next year, but man... I danced. About as well as you'd expect a medievalist to dance, sure. But I had fun.
)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Chronica Kalamazensis, Friday Edition

Today was:

6:20 a.m.: Wake up after only two freaking hours of sleep. Shower, and try to remain vertical while doing so.

7 a.m.:
Cafeteria breakfast. Because I paid for it. Breakfasts are the only meals I'll pay for on campus while here, and even those are starting to seem less worth it. Melon. Hate melon.

7:45 a.m.:
Arrive for blogger meetup! (pictured below) In tiny dorm coffee shop, which happens to be 45 seconds from my dorm room door. It's like they know me. Barista greets me with "Hey! I remember you from last year! You've lost weight!" Possibly a transparent ploy for tips. Whatever, it worked. Eventually people start to drift in. Ever tried to schedule a meetup between people who you've never seen in person? Sure, everyone's wearing nametags, but since they give our real names, rather than things like "Dr. Notorious" or "Professor Heu Mihi", we're stuck. But we find each other, then eventually become very easy to find because we end up being over two dozen people. Two dozen fun, interesting, and highly attractive people. Even at 8 a.m.

10 a.m.: First panel of the day. Though the whole panel is interesting, I'm here primarily for presenter #3. But presenter #1 goes for 40 minutes. Presenter #2 goes for 35. And these are senior people! Surely they know by now that they can't present 20 pages worth of material in 20 minutes? Sheesh, people. The papers were all very interesting, but I found myself growing resentful, especially since I had to leave at the end of the panel, so missed not only the questions, but the comment.

11:40 a.m.:
Meet up with Future Colleague, Another Department for lunch. We talk about life, housing in Sunshine City, and who's crazy at Urban U.

1:30 p.m.:
Second panel, at which I deliver a paper for Absent Colleague. ::sigh:: I go 5 minutes over time, and can't bring myself to feel bad about it (though there is a bit of hypocrisy there).

3:30 p.m.:
Third panel, at which I watch a friendly senior colleague grow increasingly furrow-browed during what seemed to me to be a good paper. S/he scribbles a note about 10 minutes into the thing: "This is basically a summary of my "X" article, except s/he's getting important parts of it wrong." Ouch. Meet up afterwards with would-be collaborator on edited volume, but we don't have time to talk right then, because I need to head for...

5:15 p.m.: Business meeting with small society that exists basically to devise society-themed panels for K'zoo each year. I half-heartedly say that I may have something for one of the panels they propose, but the truth (which I tell them) is that I may not even be in the country. But I count the meeting a success for me because a) I promise to talk to a Known Person who I'm meeting with later about presenting something, and b) I manage not to get elected to any position of responsibility.

6:15 p.m.:
Meet up for dinner with ex-nemesis. Oh, ex-nem, if you're reading this, know that I mean this in all affection. Because of the "ex-" part. Ex-nem and I mercilessly picked at each other through years of grad school. I'd say that neither of us behaved particularly well. But we tentatively mended fences a couple of years ago, and had a really nice dinner together. And I think it's nice that we both decided that being grown-ups was a better choice than bearing career-long grudges that didn't matter.**

8:15 p.m.:
Return to dorm. Buy can of diet coke. Try to catch up on e-mail, etc. Have a nice break when an undergrad in one of my classes (but from another department) passes by and shows me the interesting book he got on the cheap at the book display.

Blog.

Start thinking about bed (see above), once I've gone over my schedule for the next day.

10:31 p.m.:
Sign off.


**Of course, this means that I'll need another nemesis now. Am I the only one who works better when I have one?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Fingers (and Toes) Crossed

First of all, thank you to all of you who responded to my previous post with suggestions on how to construct a response to readers. I've taken this into account, and just 90 seconds ago sent off my response to Fabulous Editor. It ended up being three single-spaced pages long. Nothing bad or obstinate -- just erring on the side of caution by providing probably too much detail. The book goes before the press board in three weeks. At that point, it's an up or down vote as to whether or not to offer me a contract.

((deep breath))

So, wish me luck. And while you're at it, you might send some good wishes towards Medieval Woman, who is getting ready to have her first publisher meetings this weekend. Hopefully we'll be able to offer support in person at the blogger meetup!