Thursday, May 01, 2003


Ok, now that I've got that out of my system...

Five days before I need a decent thesis draft, I sit in the library collecting still more sources and realize that my paper is on the whole pretty bad. I haven't got every source and I haven't put them all in the paper. I haven't said anything really new or interesting about any text I use. In fact, my paper is pointless and they're going to fail me at the defense and.... yeah.

Then I collect what I expect to be my last source. I start reading it. Halfway through the paper, which happens to be on Thomas Aquinas' letter to the Duchess of Brabant (about the Jews) and how the addressee isn't really the duchess of Brabant, it's Margaret Countess of Flanders, the author of the article, one Leonard Boyle, writes that he is sure of Margaret's identity because...

::drumroll please::

John Pecham, Franciscan friar and future archbishop of Canterbury, wrote a letter to the same Margaret of Flanders answering the same questions about the Jews.

Yes, folks, we have it! The missing link! The unresearched source! The unpublished source! The UNPUBLISHED source... which exists in two known manuscripts. One is in an obscure library in Paris, but the other is in the Library of the Hispanic Society in New York City, about 155th and Broadway. That's 10 stops north on the 1 or 9, folks...

So, to make this paper a decent paper, I need to add a complete new chapter, on this letter that I still have not seen, but I know to be within reach... in an unpublished manuscript, in Latin, probably in some illegible thirteenth-century chancery hand that I will have to decipher. Oh yes, and do a significant amount of background research on Margaret of Flanders.

In other words... I severely doubt I'll have my defense by May 19.


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