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A sunny Sunday in April

It's been a while. I'm sitting here reading articles about Petrarchanism in England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, prepping to set questions for a field exam for a PhD candidate. Very interesting stuff, but there's a kind of scholastic air to the whole enterprise, what dances did people do on the heads of pins? 

I haven't much to report on the research front except that I didn't get the SSHRC standard grant for which I applied -- in fact I really firmly didn't get it, didn't score very well. The reviewers liked the proposal, and thought my record wasn't too bad, but the committee didn't think either was better than lukewarm. My record will look better next year, so I'll apply again. But what this has meant is that I've been scrambling to get applications in for smaller grants so that I can follow through on a planned research trip to Oxford this spring.

I was at the Folger a couple of weeks ago; so pleasant. My brother-in-law and my niece and I went to a show at the theatre and I wanted to show them inside what the niece and her sister call "Hogwarts." The nice security guard called the front desk and said "a Reader has some lovely people with her that she wants to show inside" and they let us in. It lived up to its reputation as a place where spells might be learned and wands sharpened, or whatever you do to hone wands. 

Before that I had been doing some preliminary work on tree diagrams in Milton's world. This involved looking through a list of titles of books that we think Milton was familiar with -- 1500 of them, and all the entries partial, that is we don't know the edition, etc. I checked the Folger catalogue to see if the books had illustrations, if the Folger had copies. The Folger is strong in continental stuff, and pretty good in English material, but most of the books I need to look at weren't there. But I did find a couple of doozies. More on that another time.

I didn't realize when I decided to go to the Folger that week that the Shakespeare Association of America was in town for its annual conference. So I had the nice surprise of seeing my old friend Ed Pechter (who gave me the great compliment of saying that he likes me so much he hardly considers me a person at all) and my PhD student and friend, Diane Jakacki, working away in the library. Ed is working on the fourth or fifth volume of his series of books about the death of English studies and the waste of spirit and so on. Great stuff. And Diane is working on illustrated play-texts from about 1600 to about 1700. More great stuff.

In the small grant applications I have to say what importance my work has to Canadians. As I'm not working on Canadian material (the major beaver extravaganza prime-time project is on the back-burner for now) I really don't know what to say -- there's nothing particularly of interest to Canadians in my work, just whatever is of interest to people in general, probably people who speak or read English more than others. We make things up to satisfy these conditions, then someone turns around and says we don't say very truthful things. That's not fair.