Catching up, Robert E. Lee, and self-conscious prose

Good morning everyone!  Soooooo…July was not a great month for blogging, as you may have noticed.  In fact, in a graduate career of busy summers, I’m not sure I’ve ever had a busier month than this past July (even worse than 2009, which was unrivaled till now!). “Relentless” is the word that comes to mind.  And since I like throwing myself pity parties, here’s a quick run-down of last month’s activities (some of which will soon become blog posts in their own right):

The month opened with prep for moving out of the house where I’ve been a resident for over two years (counting the amount of time I spent there before I formally moved in; my friends were very tolerant folks). Then the Fourth, which I was determined not to miss. That was its own issue, however, since staying up late the night before one leaves for a big trip is not a good idea…especially when there is still a lot of packing to do!  Ultimately, I made it England in one piece (thanks to Meg), where I was from July 6 to July 22.  One word: exhausting.  The travel was only the half of it. Doing four presentations in seven days, on four different topics, was the other. NEVER want to do that again. Yikes. Had a couple days in the archives, then off to the German Historical Institute for the two-day symposium “Crusades, Islam, and Byzantium,” where I had a paper critiqued, and then had to critique two papers.  Then to the Leeds Congress, where I did a round table on the academic interview (surprisingly crowded, and a really good conversation thanks to Kathleen Neal’s leadership), and then drew the graveyard session on Thursday, where a very crowded room listened me ramble on about Frederick Barbarossa. Well, I think most of them came to hear Kim Kilmartin and Matthew Bennett, in point of fact. Our papers worked quite well together, actually–to be blogged soon!   Then I met up with Meg in Leeds, and we went to Bronte country for a couple days, then back to London, then her purse was stolen and I extended my stay until she got a new passport, which meant I got to go with her to Canterbury for one day, and thus saw the cathedral.  Then back home, where the move out continued, then off to karate summer camp for four days, which was an absolute blast, even though I broke my foot on day 2 (or at least badly sprained it, long story), then back Sunday night, and finally this morning I finished the move, and can now catch up on the ten thousand things that have piled up in the last four weeks!!!!

Ok, enough of that.

Meg sent me this interesting article from Salon about Robert E. Lee’s papers, and the varied restrictions placed on free access to them by his descendants.  Not surprising, I guess, but I suspect the consequences for Americans’ understanding of this major figure in our history has suffered for it. The author takes shots at Pryor’s new book on Lee, which I have and which looks fascinating enough to me, so who knows…Probably a lot infighting and rivalry going on here of which I’m not aware…

And someone else, I can’t remember who, linked to this great column by Geoff Dyer in The NYT Sunday Book Review, on ridiculously self-conscious prose.  Heh heh.  What NOT to do in one’s writing…

That’s it for now. There will be many more posts in the month of August–definitely one tomorrow, on CFPs for Kalamazoo 2012, of which quite a few have been passing through my inbox lately.

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