Sunday, April 15, 2012

Making the Most of Summer Travel

I was quite excited when I read about the First Summer School on Christian Apocryphal Literature, running this June 24th-27th in Strasbourg, France. The seminar will include a number of lectures and workshops on the Pseudo-Abdias Latin collection of the Acts of Apostles, which informs chapter 2 of my dissertation (on the apocryphal acts of apostles in Anglo-Saxon England). Naturally, I started to plot about how to get to the seminar as soon as I received the news.

Over the last several weeks, I've been working on applying to various places for funding, mainly writing grant proposals for summer research and travel money--which has been a great benefit to focusing my research and goals. As it turns out, I've found a way to justify the trip (with some expected funding as well as hoping to still receive some grant funding), and this past week I registered for the seminar, bought my airline tickets, and reserved a hotel. I'm now more excited than ever.

I'll be in France for about 10 days (flying to France on June 20, returning on June 30), and will be attending the apocrypha seminar during the middle part of this time. Unfortunately, I won't have the ability to foray much into wider France or Europe, and I'll mainly stay in Strasbourg and the surrounding towns (of course, there is much to take in of the city itself).*

So I'm posting all of this mainly to lead to soliciting advice. I'm asking many people these same questions (especially my advisor), and thought I would see what others have to say here. Since it's my first trip overseas, I'm wondering: How does one make the most of this type of travel, specifically regarding research? I'll certainly have most of my focus trained on the seminar, but what else should I take advantage of? What is the most valuable advice about Europe generally, and France/Strasbourg specifically?

* I had hoped to travel to Vercelli, Italy for some time in the Biblioteca Capitolare archives (mainly with the Vercelli Book), but a number of unchangeable factors (one being the timetable of the trip) means that I'll be unable to do so now.


Jennifer Lynn Jordan said...

Ooh! Congrats on the funding. This sounds like it will be a blast.

Matthew Gabriele said...

only advice I have is to have realistic goals. Most likely you won't be able to get too much done, if you're there on a seminar. investigate the local archives, since there are some real gems there and you won't have to spend time traveling. Also, the local specialty in Strasbourg (name eludes me right now) goes with white wine - not red. :-)

bwhawk said...

Thanks, Jenn & Matthew. I'm hoping to check out the archives (getting my hands on some catalogues to see what's there ahead of time). The food advice is definitely appreciated--glad to know about the white wine, which I normally prefer anyway.

Emma Gorst said...

So exciting! I love research trips. I have lots of suggestions; feel free to email me if you like. Have you been in touch with the archives/libraries yet via email? do book ahead as they may have limited spots or be doing renovations, and book specific manuscripts as they might be in demand or on loan. Also ask what documentation they'll need from you; presumably you've got your library reference letters from your advisor already taken care of. (Sorry if any of that is too obvious..)
Having a plan - down to the local train/bus timetables and such - would be helpful to make the most of limited time. For example - buses might not run on Sundays. Archives might close at 3pm. You can sometimes use google maps to estimate travel times, but I don't know about its accuracy in Strasbourg etc. Ten days will be a whirlwind! enjoy!