TOWI(the Earl of)E

A quick break from chapter-bothering (sorry for the lack of updates. Chapter is fighting back) to introduce a new ‘scripted reality’ show, sure to be a hit amongst the coveted ‘early modern history geek’ demographic.

His first mistake was clearly to treat Ireland like a Basildon nightclub.

Starring Robert Dever-ohhhh, because please can #earlymodernpornstar trend on Twitter (hashtag invented by Helen, aka @helenjgm)? It’d be boss. Inspired by Lizzy (@earlymodernpost)’s observation that  ‘Devereux was the original Essex boy’.

I’ll be honest, I’ve never seen TOWIE. Though the picture I based this on makes it look… nah, no, really not something I want to watch. I’m more of a Geordie Shore girl.

Drawing this is a perfectly sensible thing to do when you’re supposed to be writing things.


Who died and made YOU king of the useta-be-an-undergraduates?

I am writing some stuff about preparing for university. It’s on this blog, but as I’m doing it as separate pages I’m not sure it’ll show up in RSS feeds, if any of you fine people have honoured me with inclusion in your RSS feeds.

So here is a link to it: Sage advice for future undergraduates

Please get involved, tell me what is wrong or misleading, etc. I’m telling the internet that the works of Shakespeare are best appreciated by watching the Youtube songs inspired by the plays, I hope that’s OK.

The Permissive Archive

Do you like archives? Of course you like archives. All the best people like archives.

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Centre for Editing Lives and Letters (CELL), my PhD colleagues and I are organising a one-day conference on archival research dealing with anything in the period 1500-1800. It’s at Queen Mary, University of London, on 9 November 2012 (which is a Friday, so you can come and make a weekend of it in glorious Olympics-free London). We’d love you to join us! Yes, you. The lovely person reading this on their computer screen. There will be papers, and stellar refreshments, and dancing girls… (maybe not the latter, unless I have too much conference wine).

The Call for Papers is below – the deadline is 31 July, in just over two weeks time. So please get sending! And registration will soon be available. Please check out our conference website at and the CELL website at for more information.

Meanwhile, a comic answering a question I’ve been asked a few times…

And the Call for Papers:

The Permissive Archive, Queen Mary University of London, 9 November 2012

For ten years, the Centre for Editing Lives and Letters (CELL) has pioneered original archival research that illuminates the past for the benefit of the modern research community, and beyond. To celebrate this anniversary, in early November 2012 we will be holding a conference examining the future of the ‘Permissive Archive’.

The scope of archival history is broad, and this conference seeks presentations from a wide range of work which opens up archives – not only by bringing to light objects and texts that have lain hidden, but by demystifying and demonstrating the skills needed to make new histories. Too long associated with settled dust, archival research will be championed as engaged and engaging: a rigorous but permissive field.

We welcome proposals for papers on any aspect of early modern archival work, manuscript or print, covering the period 1500 – 1800. Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • The shape of the archive – ideology and interpretation
  • The permissive archive: its definition and its past, present and future
  • Alternatives to the permissive archive
  • Archival research as discovery or construction
  • The archive which challenges or disrupts
  • Uncatalogued material – how to find it, how to access it, how to use it
  • New findings
  • Success and failure
  • Broken or dispersed collections
  • The archive and the environment
  • The archivist and the historian
  • The ethics of the archive
  • The comedy of the archive
  • Order and anarchy

Please send 300-word proposals to Deadline July 31st.

Submissions are not limited to the 20-minute paper. CELL will be holding a workshop on the use of archival materials, and we are keen to hear from scholars with ideas for alternative presentations such as group sessions, trips or guided walks. Submissions will be peer-reviewed by Professor Lisa Jardine.

You can also download a PDF of the Call for Papers here

All I wanna do is (clicking mechanical pencil noise) and go to the BL

Apologies, dear readers, for not posting anything for ages. I’ve been transcribing, transcribing, transcribing… so many letters. Truth is, I haven’t been much in a drawing mood. Sometimes I just want to draw all the time and sometimes, like the last few weeks, my brain’s somewhere else (in the Manuscripts room of the British Library, in this case) and I can’t seem to put drawing pen to paper, at least not to produce anything I might want to post here.

Anyway. I’m trying to get my eye back in. Meanwhile, here is a quick drawing about King’s Cross Station.

This is what all the transcription right now is in aid of. I do not want to come to King’s Cross during the Olympics. Oh dear me no.

Happy totally-not-your-birthday, Shakespeare

I wasn’t going to do a picture for ol’ Shakspur’s birthday, but then I was having a conversation with @paulshinndraws on facebook and I started annoyingly going on about this (sorry Paul). So I drew it. I can’t say I did it with care and attention, exactly, and I might have forgotten that ‘HAPPY’ doesn’t have an ‘R’ in it. Also I was too lazy to go downstairs to the scanner. It’s been a long day.

More Shakespeare-themed stuff here for your viewing pleasure.

Undergrads! Know Your Shakespeare Criticism!


So… I scrawled this after a huge pile of marking, I feel it accurately reflects how I feel about criticism in general, to be honest, not just when it’s used by undergrads. Although I should add that there was loads of critic-related cleverness from my students, even about Eliot (I know!). Students are ace.

I would also like to expand my prohibition of Bloom to include all people called Harold. By which I mean, Harold Jenkins.

Then I posted it on Twitter and lots of nice people retweeted and commented! Which was top. And unexpected. And today I even made it into my own mild authorship controversy, when it got posted unattributed on someone else’s blog. [Edit: it appears to have entered tumblr, sans attribution, at some point, and reached said blog through there, so it wasn’t said bloggers’ fault. Apologies happened, no harm done whatsoever!] But then the lovely @RuthAhnert and @wynkenhimself let everyone know – thank you! And here it is on my blog, Googleable and everything, as advised by @wynkenhimself.

And here are some other marking-related scrawls, because why not.