You’ve probably deduced from my periodic postings of awesome and inspirational pictures that I love art.  Photography, painting, sculpture, dance, theater, instrumental, film, fashion…  If it’s art (and is pleasing to look at in purpose–no Red Square or bodily fluids, here, guys, or found art, DuChamp), then chances are I’m a fan.  I know that according to philosophers of art I’m suppose to acquiesce to the artist and believe it’s art if it was intended to be art, but I believe that for me to consider it art, I must like to watch/listen/experience it.  That’s what I believed as a kid and what I believe in now.

Anyway, these works of art may not be Botticelli-like in their beauty, but they make me smile.  They are clever and fun, and while writing a dissertation that’s all I’m looking for, really.  No hidden agenda or meaning.  Yes.  Simple works right now, folks.

I found these on imgfave, and you can view all twelve famous deconstructed fairy tales here.

Robin Hood

Works Cited: Note: Not historically accurate, but way cuter!

The Frog Prince

Works Cited: This reminds me of "Fractured Fairy Tales" from "Rocky and Bullwinkle." Not familiar with that? Get thee to YouTube!

Snow White

Works Cited: I'm personally a fan of the deer and the mushroom. Do you think this one gave Snow White that dazed and confused expression?


This is going to be a short post, completely composed from a stream of consciousness, as my dissertation due date is looming in the not-so-distant future.  I’m trying (sometimes successfully!) to limit my time on Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress, and definitely on such correspondence applications such as Facebook Chat, AIM, and Skype.  I totally get sucked in, and I apologize to those who look for me there.

I’ve learned through trial and error several things about myself when I’m working.

Not even close to the number of books on my desk...

  • Don’t use the Mac.  This seems counterintuitive, but my Mac is fast.  Yep, I’m complaining about my computer being too fast while I’m working.  Why?  Well, because websites load faster.  That one minute break to check email leads to a click here, a click there, and then I’ve spent an hour of productivity click-click-clickity-clicking.  I use my HP netbook instead, which is functional, but moves at a comparatively glacial pace.  Websites like YouTube and StumbleUpon aren’t nearly as fun.
  • Work out of my room.  Yes, this means walking up one of the painful Durham hills carrying lots and lots of books, but I need that time out of my comfortable college accommodation.  Plus, since college decided that a folding chair was a suitable replacement for my desk chair, in actuality the library is more comfortable…  And there are fewer distractions about when the purpose for a library is study.
  • Wake up early, no matter what.  Yes, as a night owl I feel like the veil of sleep doesn’t lift until mid-afternoon, but really I get so much more done when I get up at 7-8 each morning.  If I’m at work by 9, then I can work all day and actually do something at night.  I woke up three mornings in a row before 5 AM about two weeks ago while on holiday, so I bloody well can get up at 8!
  • Caffeine and music make Sarah a not-so-dull girl.  I’ve never had so much Diet Coke, coffee, and tea before in my life, and I’m convinced that a tenner for an entire movie soundtrack has to be an incorrect price on iTunes.  I mean, really, who won’t be enthused by listening to the Game of Thrones main title or “He’s a Pirate” from Pirates of the Caribbean?  Currently my favorite?  “An Historic Love” from the Tudors, season one.

Just a quick update on life: I’m going to York in October for my PhD position in English/the CMS (Centre for Medieval Studies).  My dissertation is on hospitality and the guest-host relationship in Middle English Gawain romances.  My dissertation is 12-15,000 words (or roughly 45-60 A4 pages).  I registered for Pottermore on the third day and am currently awaiting my welcome email.  I went to Yellowstone National Park for two weeks in early July, and rejoiced in wearing bug spray, pigtails, and hiking boots everyday.

With that, more Diet Coke.


This term has been crazy.  No, really.  Any way you put it, since Christmas school has been

mad, insane, batty, wacky, nuts, screwy, cooky, bonkers, daft.

I got back and immediately had an essay due.  After that, I had to finish whipping my applications into shape and edit my writing samples.  Next, a 5000 word essay worth 100% of my grade in my Issues module.  Now? A research proposal for my Research Methods course, which is also the cherry on top of my applications.  I’m trying to get it up to scratch so that I get funding.  There are up to eight Durham Doctoral Scholarships and 250 applicants.  Ouch.  And it’s the only funding I can apply for here as an overseas student.  So, that means I have roughly a 3% chance of getting funding.  Ooof.  And on top of this, the regular reading and classes (though, to be fair, my Issues classes are done, and in RMR I only have the daunting Dialogue Day –presenting a paper in a pseudo-conference atmosphere).  Now, before Easter break, I have to come up with a research essay topic and meet with my essay supervisor and finish another 3000 word essay.

I don’t have time for a proper post, but I wanted to update any regular readers on what’s been going on.  On the bright side, Alicia (who has a new fashion blog!!!) has turned in her Master’s thesis of 101 pages, and my former roomie, Ryan, has passed the Japanese Language Proficiency Test N1 (the highest level of mastery in the Japanese language)!  I’m so proud of them!!!

So, onwards and upwards.  I’ll try to update more regularly, and pictures by me will turn up after break begins, as my camera vanished while I was home for Christmas.  Keep rocking on, just keep swimming, and everything’s gonna be alright.

Above: probably what my room looks like from floor-level because I haven’t yet taken my Issues books back!  Black Death, the Pearl, and the Book of the Duchess, baby!

Media note: The Oscars are this Sunday, and I’m betting on The King’s Speech, Colin Firth, and Christian Bale.  The ceremony’s being taped at home, so it’ll be good fun during break!  Adele has a fantastic new album out, 21, which is her follow-up to the amazing 19 (“Chasing Pavements” is a well-known tune from that album).  Plus, I finished Her Fearful Symmetry and am now reading The Piano Teacher and Bill Bryson’s Mother Tongue.  Fun fab fact: Bill Bryson is the chancellor at Durham!  Finally, I’m reading Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida and The Tempest for class.  Hooray for an amazing mix of good music, films, and texts!

We’ve finally begun our Issues module lectures on the Renaissance.  As I read dense, boring, and often ill-written articles in preparation for Monday’s class, I was struck by the eloquence of Paula Findlen’s article, “Possessing the Past,” in which she discusses the material collection obsession of Renaissance patricians.  To illustrate her point about books and the preservation of knowledge, she included a quote from Petrarch:

And I perhaps own more of them than I ought; but just as in certain other things, so does it happen with books; success in earning money is a stimulus to greed.  There is indeed something peculiar about books.  Gold, silver, precious stones, beautiful clothing, marbled homes, cultivated fields, painted canvases, decorated horses and other similar things, possess silent and superficial pleasure.  Books please the core of one’s mind; they speak with us, advise us and unite us with a certain living and penetrating intimacy.

92, adapted from Petrarch, Rerum familiarium libri I-VIII, 157 (Fam. III, 18)

Petrarch believes to truly possess a book, one must read it, understand it, and contemplate it.  It has to feed one’s mind and soul and not just his or her pride and vanity.  It’s a lovely thought.

Works Cited:

I’ve come across these two links the past few days and had to share.  Tomorrow is the last day of term, so I don’t have time to write a proper post, so this will have to suffice for a bit.

Bookish Christmas Tree Alternative


Happy December!



It’s been a long time since my last post.  I suppose that speaks to the nature of the grad school beast, but it bugs me.  So, in order to get inspired on a quick post, I looked at some friends’ blogs.  You may have read about Alicia in my style post here.  She’s another grad student (in ancient history) and a fellow bookworm.  Her latest post was on the contents of one of her bookshelves, and I think I’ll respond to her post with my own.

One shelf in my two bookshelves has this contents.  I suppose I should mention that I have two bookshelves; one mounted on my wall which came in my room and one hastily put together from IKEA’s lesser brother, Argos, which has three shelves.  (The putting together of this second bookcase is what introduced me to many of my housemates, so while I doubt it’ll last more than a year, it does have great sentimental value already.)  I’ve chosen to begin with my mounted bookcase, which has one shelf of magazines and decorative elements and one shelf packed to the gills of books and various hot drink mixes (coffee, tea, hot chocolate).  I should note that these are my non-academic books.  Without further ado, here they are:

  • The Road, Cormac McCarthy
  • The Piano Teacher, Janice Y.K. Lee
  • Cleopatra’s Daughter, Michelle Moran
  • Her Fearful Symmetry, Audrey Niggenegger
  • Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
  • Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak
  • The House of the Spirits, Isabel Allende
  • Three Cups of Tea, Mortenson & Relin
  • The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova
  • Leonardo’s Swan, Karen Essex
  • Sprezzatura: 50 Ways Italian Geniuses Shaped the World, Peter D’Epiro
  • Walking to Canterbury: A Modern Journey Through Chaucer’s Medieval England, Jerry Ellis
  • Rules Britannia: An Insider’s Guide to Life in the United Kingdom, Toni Summers Hargis
  • How to Read Literature Like a Professor, Thomas C. Foster
  • Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World: Nicholas Ostler
  • Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour, Kate Fox
  • Knickers in a Twist: A Dictionary of British Slang, Jonathan Bernstein
  • The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro (I just finished this yesterday!)

Okay, so maybe they’re not entirely non-academic (Empires of the Word is literally the history of the world’s languages and equates in my mind to Hermione Granger’s “light reading” of various histories of the magical world.  It’s deep stuff, I tell you.)  I’m starting The White Queen by Phillipa Gregory this evening, so it’s technically not on my bookcase, but it did occupy the space now taken by The Remains of the Day less than 12 hours ago.

What books occupy your shelves?  What is on your imaginary shelf?  (I would have to go with a first printing of Harry Potter, the destroyed copy of Shakespeare’s collected works that my aunt and uncle tossed away–meticulously annotated by my grandfather who got a full scholarship to Harvard but fought in WWII, instead–and leather-bound, and an illuminated manuscript.)

Works Cited:

And, yes.  That picture of me in my new glasses is coming!  I just have to find someone to take my picture when it’s not dreary and awful outside.  Hmmm.  Maybe over Christmas in Oklahoma where it’s still sunny?

No, I haven’t joined or anything, but I have discovered a wonderful blog concerning all things university, and in particular, all things British university.

The University Blog

I found a link to this blog by clicking my way from The Glamourous Grad Student (see previous post) to one of her posted “Weekend Reads,” and then stumbled upon this post, “10 Great Ways to Push Past Uncertainty.”  TUB has covered the brand spanking new Harry Potter course at Durham as well as getting rid of writer’s block and frustration.  It’s a great place for academics to look for both entertainment and inspiration, and even though I’ve only read about 8 posts, I’m hooked.

I find myself looking for reassurance anywhere I can, and the internet happens to be the best place at the moment because of its worldwide collection of authors and contributors.  The UK Student Room forums are giving me insight into the collegiate lifestyle in Durham and allowing me to get to know some of my fellow MA students online, albeit in a fairly superficial way (which is one terrible drawback of online forums like the UKSR or Yahoo!).

I think even though it is the web (and we can totally trust everything on the ‘net, right?), these little tips written by complete strangers help me to get a grasp on just how lucky I am to be able to fund almost all of my own tuition and accommodation through pure hard work and how normal my doubting and anxiety is.  I need to focus on the positive more than ever; hey, I walked onto one of the largest campuses in America and did a pretty good job, if I say so myself, with commuting, paying rent, and staying on top of full course loads.  I made great connections with professors and peers and jumped into classes I would have presumed to be too over my head a year ago.  (Funnily enough, even though I love history, I really stink at remembering dates and details.  Especially with ancient and medieval history, in which there are so many Philips, caesars, popes, and Edwards, not to mention fairly unpronounceable names, I struggle.  However, I jumped into early medieval history and well my first quarter, proving that my fear of the details is conquerable.)  I should remember this.

I know it’s silly, but at this juncture in my life when everything is so uncertain, these little reminders of potential and the strength of the human spirit and mind help me put everything in perspective.  You won’t find me posting any Hallmarky cards up on my wall anytime soon, but I think we all can use a bit of inspiration now and then.

And hey, if nothing else, this blog makes a darn good read when procrastination sets in…