Thursday, December 13, 2007

In which I find an excuse to go to the archive

Here's my secret shame: I don't do archival stuff. It's not that I don't want to, it's more that the whole research portion of my graduate training has been... sad, to say the least. Non-existent is another apt term. My home library has, allegedly, a fantastic collection of stuff. My city has yet another fantastic private library with archives right up my alley. And yet, I've never delved into them.

But! I met with Don Music yesterday to discuss cabbages and kings and how on earth I can finally put at least one chapter to bed. After the last committee meeting, I came away with a new framing idea for the whole diss, and Don and I talked yesterday about how to pursue that idea and what kinds of critical and contemporary sources I need to bring into my argument. Which then led to him getting all excited about a tiny little genre of 16th-century how-to manuals in a tangential field. Of course, none of these manuals are of the kind of literary or historical importance to have been put out in modern editions. So it's off to the archive with me, because there's no way in hell that I can skim that ridiculous blackface type on a computer screen (not that EEBO isn't awesome).

UChaos's library doesn't have a copy of the one manual I most want to look at, but the private library does. As well as what looks like a few other related books. So, once we get back from our holiday trip to the balmy southwest, I'll be hieing myself downtown to get my official reader's card. Whee!

I do hope, though, that this new approach doesn't derail the work I've done so far. It looks like this material will fit neatly into what I already have written and give the chapters the critical grounding the committee thinks I need. I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed by my talk with Don, but also tentatively excited that I'm finally getting specific advice toward producing the work they want to see.

Also, I went a bit hippie-flaky earlier today and cleared out all the crap that was cluttered up in front of our household shrine (what, you don't have a household shrine? Made up of saint candles, Elvis memorabilia, milagros, conference nametags, and casino chips?) because I felt like the energy was totally trapped, man. Also, my bamboo plant was nearly dead.

Oh, and I celebrated turning in my grades by buying an awesome bag. It's big enough to fit file folders!

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