Friday, October 03, 2003

Dearest Andrea, I found this little Axiom in the House of Murphy. And I fear it applies to you.

Library Axiom: The closest library doesn't have the material you need.

Here's another one:

Law of Scholarly Research: The most valuable quotation will be the one for which you cannot determine the source.
Corollary: The source for an unattributed quotation will appear in the most hostile review of you work.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

The Best News I've Heard All Week

Smallpox vaccines could prevent Aids.

Now this would truly be a miracle.

As someone who recently spent a sleepless night changing every citation in a seventy-seven page paper from MLA to Turabian, I definitely sympathize with this article. Louis Menand evokes the suffering of any crazed graduate student warring with the mandates of the sovereigns of textual style.

Menand's complaints about Microsoft Word are also perfectly accurate, but omit my current battle with the program. You see, the program thinks it knows how to spell better than I do. On occasion it will silently edit my prose, replacing, for example, inwardes with "inwards". This might have been useful to me, if I had not been typing up several lines from the Middle English theological text The Cloud of Unknowing, which includes words like kynde, thei, ymaginacion, fantasie, and, yes, inwardes. I hate to turn Auto-Correct completely off, as I have set it to expand many of my commonly used abbreviations ("bw" for "between"; "Xn" for "Christian"; "abp" for "archbishop", "mdv" for "medieval"...), but if I leave Auto-Correct on, I must proofread my work closely enough to notice when the Anglo-Norman word ceus suddenly becomes "cues".

Monday, September 29, 2003

The neverending thesis... hasn't ended. In fact, I have been sent back to the salt mines under the university library, to dig for treasure and for the history of medieval Winchester. I have to say that it's comforting to know that your readers really read your work. One of mine caught an error in a date in a footnote - one of my sources was published in 1985, not 1983.

Oh, well. Someday I'll finish it. Preferably someday before December 15, that being the deadline for completion for a January 2004 graduation.