My room is in that state rooms are in when you’re close to a deadline. I could punctuate this post with bursts of uppercase terror, but will refrain. Here’s a funny story.
My Masters course is split into four (count ’em) different strands: Medievalists, Early Moderns, Actual Moderns (with a side order of American) and Us. We are 1780-1900, the Long Nineteenth Century, in fact two periods – Romantic and Victorian. I am a Victorian. Sam is a Victorian. Gabby is a Victorian. Michael and Heather, meanwhile, are Romantics. And so it goes on. The psychology of these strands is very interesting: the Medievalists subtly look down on us all, because they are Medievalists and their love is pure. We look down on the Modernists because they do Woolf, however the Modernists look down on us because they do Woolf, everybody looks down on the Americans but secretly wants to be them because they’re in a cool little club and lovely Professor Bush takes them out for dinner. While most people have an awed and baffled respect for the Medievalists (their love might not be pure, but their manuscript-reading classes were significantly harder), opinion is divided on the Early Modern. I mean, obviously, they’re the period of Shakespeare and thus essentially better than we can ever be, but on the other hand, as individuals they seem to be studying all manner of rot (pick from words like ode – late – Milton – Jonson – elegy – revival, and string them together into something frankly terrifying) when they could be doing lovely Shakespeare and occasional Marlowe.
And everybody looks down on us. Nicely. We are unmistakeably The Best Group, for which other strand produces postgrads capable of destroying with a single swipe, entire tables of glasses at the English Graduate Christmas Party? Who else devotes hours of their lives to thinking up porn film titles for adaptations of Dickens’s novels? Who dominates the URR, strays into other strands’ classes, and writes entire dissertations on migraines in Victorian fiction? Oh yeah. MSt English (1780-1900), that’s who.
Thing is, though, for all our wit and charm, there’s either a temperamental incompetence associated with wanting to read a lot of Keats and/or administrative malice that means we literally never know what’s going on. Our course convenors are unparalleled in their brilliance, and we had a splendid mini-conference with both of them smiling kindly and then giving us sandwiches from Pret. We are even now planning the lavish presents which we shall lavish on them when this lousy war is over and our dissertations are in (Victorian hair jewellery to which we would all contribute a lock is the current best idea). I personally bow to no one in my love for a certain convenor’s red jumper, and wish the wearer was my grandad (I also wish he’d give up that racing bike, can it be safe). Equally, though, we are the last strand to get our results from last term, aka half our degrees. The Medievalists had theirs a week ago, Renaissance yesterday and Modern/American apparently got theirs today. See. See.
Of course, we could have just emailed our convenor at once, but preferred instead to spend five hours in a state of seething neurosis on email, before Ben (who is going to be a journalist and is accordingly hard-hitting) emailed our convenor for his results and got them Just Like That. I mean really. I of course was not brave enough to do this, having been rung by my Modernist seminar partner hours earlier and promptly sent a THE YANKEES ARE COMING sort of email to the cohort, who promptly ran over to their respective colleges in order to collect results that weren’t there.
We get our results tomorrow. I am not calm. I am dwelling. I have come to the conclusion that there’s absolutely nothing anyone can say to me by way of comfort which will not essentially make me want to bite them. In fact, the only good thing about anything is that – oh my god, watch this pathetic segue from narrative to content, it’ll clunk, it’ll audibly clunk – the RSC are filming David Tennant’s Hamlet (HURRAH) for the BBC (HURRAH, screw you ITV & Channel 4 and other independent media ohgod sometimes I worry about myself) and the production company IS BLOGGING this glorious televisual feast. The whole cast has signed up; principals Tennant/Patrick Stewart/Penny Downie and Oliver Ford-Davies, but also people like the amazing Ricky Champ and Ryan Gage. There’s going to be a BBC minisite, to boot. I wish I was there. I wish I was official blogger. Or hatstand, frankly.
There’s understandably been a lot of coverage of news of the film (after all, 5,000 fans were petitioning for it as far back as January), but one thing nobody’s discussed (as far as I can see) is the film’s length. The new version will apparently come in at 180 minutes, which interests me: at Stratford, we used to go up at 7.15 and FOH would get out at about 10.50 – presuming we finished at 10.40-45 (sounds about right) and had a 20 minute interval, it sounds as if the filmed Hamlet will come in very slightly shorter than the stage version – I wonder what will go. The film will be broadcast on BBC2 later in 2009, and then in the US and Japan in 2010 (which seems a bit redundant – it’ll be ripped online as soon as it’s shown here).
The search for gainful employment from September continues, incidentally. It does not gallop apace, but it does continue. Beloved readership – you seem to be growing, people keep telling me they read this blog, I mean it’s terribly nice of you but do make yourselves known – has inexplicably failed to provide me with wealth, goods etc. This must change, and soon.
ETA: Hamlet as Facebook feed. “Hamlet’s father is now a zombie“.
Dr Sophie Duncan is Fellow in English at Christ Church, University of Oxford. She works regularly as a historical advisor and as a dramaturg for theatre, TV, radio and film. She likes theatre, detective fiction and cocktails.