16 February 2009

One presentation down, two to go this week. Two articles and an essay to write as well, but those aren't due until 7th week (it is 6th week right now). The one today was on whether or not a differentiation can be drawn between 'literate' religious devotion and that of the 'illiterate'. After having spent roughly 12 hours over the past week or so reading every single book I could find on devotional images, literacy in the middle ages, and Books of Hours, I realized that it is not quite the interesting subject that I originally thought it would be. Anyways, the presentation went as well can be expected. I am fine until I start talking and then the nerves hit, at which point my verbal eloquence becomes absolutely staggering. I suppose that today this was compounded by the fact that my handout file became corrupted when I went to print it off at the library and, as a result, I had to go solely off my notes and my powerpoint, which consisted of pictures of the devotional images I was describing. Oh well. It could have gone worse. And the professor didn't say anything terribly damning...I suppose I can take solace in the fact that we don't receive a grade for these presentations. Our entire course grade is based off our essay (due in March) and our final exam (in May).

Tomorrow's presentation is on contemporary reactions to the Black Death and what they tell us about medieval mentalities. This is a piece of cake for me, expert that I am on the Black Death (perhaps more accurately called the Great Mortality). My main challenge is not to wander off on one of my own theories about the effects of the Black Death and to stick to what the readings said. (Believe me, this is going to be quite hard.) Anyways, I get to talk for about half an hour to forty-five minutes, so I should be able to cover everything. (I've already given two Black Death lectures to the fresher tutorials this semester.) Like I said, piece of cake.

Weather-wise, it has been quite nice here in Edinburgh. It snowed on Thursday and was quite cold on Friday, but has been temperate and spring-like since then. I went to Arthur's Seat on Saturday, which proved to be something of a mistake. Every couple in Edinburgh must have decided to head up at the same time. It didn't help that the routes were quite muddy and, at one point, my legs slipped out from under me and I completely slammed onto my back in the mud. Luckily, no one saw, but I had to walk the rest of the way down from Holyrood Park and the two miles back to WPR covered in mud. Sunday was spent entirely in the library, which was quite the feat for me. I hate Edinburgh's library. It is a converted parking garage and they are in the midst of renovating it, so everything is closed off and, as the construction is ongoing, it is always very noisy. I miss my carol in the Upper Camera at the Bodleian :( Oh well, I'll be back in 39 days and will probably become quite sick of it by the time my spring break is all said and done. Anyways, I've found that I am able to study best if I choose a desk in the 'Popular Slang' section of the resource stacks. I find it a bit ironic as I am always teased for never knowing what 'kids are saying these days'. Perhaps one of these days I will actually have to crack open one of the slang dictionaries and 'get hip'.

Running today went well. The super-warm (comparatively) weather has been excellent for my asthma, which acts up if it is chilly (but not, incidentally, if it is freezing cold). I've been doing 2 laps of the meadows as a standard procedure, but I will probably up it to 3 on Wednesday. I hope to do a preliminary jog of the Great Run course in the next two weeks or so, just to get an idea of what I am up against (the part going up through Holyrood Park is going to be the killer).


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