Research Progress Notes – Week of February 18th

[Edit: Apparently I forgot to post this one, so I’m putting it up for posterity]

This is a pretty short one.

This week was pretty much a wash work-wise. I gave myself the task of deciphering the margin notes of Wellcome 82, the manuscript I looked at that has the urine flask image. But after the first note I looked at, I pretty much abandoned this project. I’ll admit, a lot of this had to do with how hard I found it. These notes are written in a really difficult handwriting with a lot of abbreviations, and the margins of the manuscript were cropped when it was re-bound in the modern period, so bits of the text are cut off in places. But I also realized that this is just a major departure from the focus of my dissertation. I think there’s a really interesting article to be written from analyzing these margin notes – about the intellectual context of fourteenth-century Salernitan physicians and their understanding of early medieval medical theory – but that’s just not where my project is going. And if I wrote that right now, it would mostly be to prove that I’m not useless when it comes to texts, which is an unnecessary way to overcompensate for the fact that reading Latin is not my strength. So, while I did a few useful things this week, I really didn’t get much done outside of rejecting that side project.

I probably could have done some writing. I met with a couple people who gave me good and useful suggestions about what to do while I’m in Sicily. I mentally mapped out the next phase of my project. I got my reader card for the British Library and an introduction letter from my advisor. But otherwise I crocheted. Honestly, even though I don’t think that was the most productive use of my time, it’s what I needed to do to stay sane.

Next week. Into the British Library! I’ll be looking at more ars medicinae manuscripts and urine flask images, this time from a slightly earlier time period.