Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Text Criticism cont.

In the comments Derek the Anglican raises a good point worth exploring. Especially when cataloging sermons, we tend to treat similar sermons, or sermons that have adapted another sermon as "the same text." And with Derek I have to say that I do not think that this is a valid procedure. At the very least we should be marking these with some way of differentiating the different versions. We need to recognize that even an adapted sermon or homily is remediated and recontextualized: that ol' problem of continuity with what it borrowed but discontinuity at the same time and the acceptance of a new audience. Sometimes that will be more important than at others.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

More Medieval News

Historian: First English Bible Fueled First Fundamentalists

Medieval Justice Not So Medieval

French jails to be converted into swish hotels to cut State’s debts

Church takes first step to redundancy

Medieval pendant found in village

Germans Take Pride in the Wurst

Ancient Roman road map linking Spain to India unveiled












Obituary of Richard Hogg, from The Independent on 10 Dec 2007

Professor Richard Hogg: Historian of the English language
Published: 10 December 2007

Richard Milne Hogg, historian of the English language: born Edinburgh 20 May
1944; Lecturer in English Language, University of Amsterdam 1969-73;
Lecturer in English Language, Lancaster University 1973-80; Smith Professor
of English Language and Medieval Literature, Manchester University
1980-2007; General Editor, Cambridge History of the English Language
1992-2001; FBA 1994; married 1969 Margaret White (two sons); died Manchester
6 September 2007.

Richard Hogg, a world-renowned specialist in the linguistic history of
English, died suddenly midway through the sabbatical year which should have
allowed him to bring important projects on dialectology and on Old English
to completion. His best-known achievement is the six-volume Cambridge
History of the English Language (CHEL, 1992-2001), of which he was General
Editor.

Hogg's roots were in Edinburgh, where he was born, in 1944, grew up and
studied. After nearly 40 years away, he was still wholly a Scot in speech
and sympathies. His postgraduate career in Edinburgh had begun with two
contrasting academic preoccupations: the Chomskyan analysis of present-day
English syntax on the one hand (his PhD topic), and Middle English dialects
on the other (his research post). In their very different ways, both
represented state-of-the-art linguistics of the time.

At 26 he took up a lectureship in Amsterdam, and four years later he moved
to Lancaster University. In 1980 he arrived at Manchester University as the
surprisingly young Smith Professor of English Language and Medieval
Literature. Not that I recall him ever teaching literature: it was rarely
possible to get him to do anything that he didn't want to.

His early publications are mostly on the syntax of words like "both" and
"none", including the book (English Quantifier Systems, 1977) derived from
his PhD. Increasingly he started to focus on the sounds and forms of
historical English, especially Old English, the period up to about 1100, on
which he became an authority. He tackled linguistic change generally, and an
interest in analogy led to one paper called simply "Snuck" ­ an explanation
for that common variant of "sneaked". He also worked in phonological theory,
publishing the influential textbook Metrical Phonology (1987) with his
colleague and former student, Chris McCully.

The historical strand led to the multi-author Cambridge History of the
English Language (CHEL), a big project which took many years of planning and
good management to bring to successful completion. It has become a standard
work in the field. Hogg himself edited the first volume on the earliest
period of English and wrote the chapter on phonology and morphology. Last
year, we jointly edited a new one-volume History of the English Language,
and Hogg was still working on his own Grammar of Old English (volume 1
published in 1992, volume 2 nearly complete at his death).

He ranged widely. Interests included English dialectology ­ both the facts
of variation in historical and present-day English and the ways in which
scholars have approached these facts. Likewise he followed the history of
English grammar writing and attitudes to language. His main current project,
three-quarters finished, was a history of English dialectology that combined
those themes of language variation and of intellectual and cultural history.
He was planning a joint monograph with his newest colleague, Nuria
Yáñez-Bouza, on the history of prescriptivism in England.

In the mid-1990s Hogg became one of the founding editors (together with Bas
Aarts and me) of a new academic journal published by Cambridge University
Press, English Language and Linguistics. It would look for the best in
English language scholarship, but with a constant eye to its relation with
linguistic theory. In addition to his scholarly expertise, Richard Hogg
brought to the project a shrewd understanding of the academic world and of
academic publishing. Throughout his career he strongly promoted the
importance of English Language studies. Philologists pay close attention to
textual evidence; linguists build theories. Hogg did both.

Although he wore it lightly, Hogg was always a thinker, and time and again
his judgement was proved sound. He came up with imaginative, often
ingenious, suggestions both as a theorist and as an organiser. In meetings
he could talk his way through the twists and turns of a complicated sequence
of ideas with a body language to match. He had acted as Dean of the Faculty
of Arts in Manchester (1990-93), and was influential nationally and
internationally, often called on as adviser or consultant. In 1994 he was
elected a Fellow of the British Academy, and a decade later of the Royal
Society of Edinburgh.

Hogg was fun to have around, always ready for conversation and gossip. His
enthusiasm for the English language was infectious, and in breaks he could
chat with students about football, film or country music. Indeed, the
lectures themselves were often studded with anecdotes. He started a blog in
2006 in an "attempt to expose some of the many fallacies about English".
Church takes first step to redundancy

Monday, December 17, 2007

Good Post

I was going to compose a post on the 12 Days of Christmas, but was beaten to it by someone who said it much better.
Moyen Age
had a very good post on it earlier this week.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Textual Criticism

I'm knee deep in editing my manuscripts again. At least until its time to correct them thar papers and finals next week. But anyway, its brought up a question that started pontificating on back in April. Then I segued into modern applications, but now I want to tackle the problem from a different point of view.

I'll use my own work as an example. The Letter to Sigeweard survives in a single manuscript in its entirety. BUT, 3 other manuscripts have texts that seem to be part of the letter. BUT, those "parts" are not letters: that is, while the text overlaps with the text of the letter, and may a) have been adapted from the letter for other purposes or b) may have been material that Aelfric was preparing for sermons and used to fill out the letter written roughly simultaneously with his work on those sermons. In fact, I'm arguing both depending on which of the other manuscripts is being spoken of.

The issue I want to think about and raise here is about those other "parts." It seems that in each case the overlapping material with the letter is material being used as a sermon. In one case, it is highly improbable that Aelfric made this text into a sermon and so a later redactor adapted this letter for sermonic purposes, as he did also for a couple of other Aelfrician epistles. In the other cases it isn't so clear.

Now the traditional treatment of all these parts is to consider them as part of the "Letter to Sigeweard", though none of the other copies have ever been used to create a critical text of those overlapping portions. The closest we come is the Crawford edition of the letter in EETS The Heptateuch, which edits the main mss and one other that contains a large portion of the text, but does so in parallel columns rather than as a critical text.

So my questions are these: 1) isn't creating a critical edition of the Letter in a sense doing violence to the manuscript context of the adapted portions? 2) how best to produce both a "critical" edition and yet at the same time preserve the texts that appear as separate units in other manuscripts--that they be enjoyed, read, and studied not simply as parts of the Letter to Sigeweard but as independent texts, they are both and should be studied as both.

Still thinking about this....

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Old English Musings

My first thought occurred over the American holiday: how sad for those poor saps in Europe who didn't have turkey and the trimmings! I mean, few things do I enjoy more than pulling my juicy turkey out of the oven, getting my stuffing out of it, sampling of course to make certain it isn't poisonous, and carving that bird...falling on my sword by eating some skin so that others won't have to and consume too much fat. This isn't to mention my mashed potatoes...I have to say, I do a mean batch of taters, there are even a few Anglo-Saxonists who have driven HOURS to have my mashed potatoes. I'm honored. But Aelfric and Alfred never had them....poor chaps. All our typical Thanksgiving fare here in the States (and I presume Canada) is of New World origin. It all reminded me that I've also been wanting to read A Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Food by Ann Hagen and The Mead Hall: The Feasting Tradition in Anglo-Saxon England by Stephen Pollington for some time, but I've not received either yet. My loverly spouse has given me Early French Cookery and The Medieval Kitchen in recent years and I've like both books.

The job market continues to loom in my musings as well. And I spare some of that musing to think of the field in general rather than just myself. I wonder and marvel at my university, which is not alone, in not filling a recently vacated Anglo-Saxon seat. In fact, what's odd is that while we did not even fill that seat, we did hire someone to do Chinese linguistics and literature with that line! Some years ago our English department absorbed Linguistics and one of the linguists who recently retired had a side interest in Chinese. So the powers that be found it more expedient to keep that interest and commitment going rather than hire a medievalist, specifically an Anglo-Saxonist. There are certainly other schools who want a general medievalist at this level....its a perception not even of the academy that is doing us in, but a perception or problem within ENGLISH Departments, among those of our colleagues closest to us who do Old English langauge and literature. What to do?

Medieval News

Demolition could uncover deserted medieval village

Thieves raid Medieval Village


Runesten fundet ved Fåborg



Royal burial ground unearthed

ARCHAEOLOGISTS REVEAL JEWELS OF AN ANGLO SAXON PRINCESS AT KIRKLEATHAM MUSEUM

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Monday, November 12, 2007

Pre-Beowulf Thoughts

Yes, I'm still on a kick. As I prepare for the release of the latest Beowulf movie I can not help but brace myself, not for the movie, but for the outcry from my fellow Anglo-Saxonists. I expect all sorts of modernisms, from exploration of Grendel's and Grendel's Dam's motives and the conflict with the Danes or with Hrothgar personally---part and parcel of our world now is the explanation of the villain's villainy--temptation scenes for the hero, yes, I mean SEX, which while not in Beowulf proper is certainly in plenty of medieval tales and seems as necessary in modern tales.

Again, though, I have to say that every time a tale is newly told, we should expect differences. Of COURSE it isn't going to be the Beowulf of the Vitellius manuscript! The question I suppose is how far can it wander from that source and still be called Beowulf. Still, I'm apprehensive, and I hope its a good movie.

But what gives? In the last 7 years by my count there have now been four movies and 3 new translations and 2 new editions of the poem, make that 3 new editions of the poem. There seems to be a lot of interest in the poem not only among scholars but among the general reading public as well. An interest that we Anglo-Saxonists should harness and welcome, as it gives us opportunity to talk about Beowulf.
Really didn't find anything this week:


EU funds Fountains Abbey project

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Updates

It amazes me the strong, strident even, reactions people have to adaptations of Beowulf. In a recent discussion someone sent me at LiveJournal has at least some folks upset that Heaney used "archaisms" such as "tholed", which his introduction to the stand alone version has him explaining that the word derived from his grandparents Ulster dialect which one writer there said was a "snobbish" and didn't make Heaney special.

Interestingly though no one reacted specifically to things like "So" for "hwaet" or "tarn hag", and other things that have annoyed others. I do find it surprising and have a theory as to the root of it.

One of the good things that this shows though is that there is excitement about Beowulf, an excitement we Anglo=Saxonists should harness and enlarge on and encourage.

New Carnivalesque Up

The New Carnivalesque is up at Seredipities: http://earmarks.org/archives/2007/10/28/168
Its the Early Modern Edition this month.

The News

Not much going on Medievally speaking, but here's what there is:


Will a cemetery excavation establish a link between the Black Death and
resistance to AIDS?
:

Late Antique Roman Graveyard At Copenhagen


Medieval Ruins Found Near Stockholm Castle

Monday, October 15, 2007

Willibrord

Back in Issue 6 of the Heroic Age (www.heroicage.org) Michelle Ziegler published an interesting paper that sought to establish that Bede was wrong about Willibrord "continuing" the work of Wilfrid in Frisia and that Willibrord can not be said to have belonged to Wilfrid's familia by the time he went to Frisia. Its an interesting paper, though in subsequent work I've come to disagree with it but not because of anything wrong with the paper itself. I know, that's confusing.

Anyway, among the evidence that Michelle adduces is the presence of Irish art, script, and works produced at Willibrord's monastery. But I've begun to wonder if this as certain an idicator that Willibrord was not part of Wilfrid's familia as I did those years ago when Issue 6 was published. On further examination of Wilfrid's biography, there is much of the Irish there: from hermits to connections to St. Brigid to his style of being a bishop, there is MUCH that Irish in Wilfrid's career. So pointing to the Irish with Willibrord seems to me not as much of an indication of Willibrord's connections as one might think.

Friday, October 05, 2007

This is so wrong in so many ways

The first soferet Yes, folks, it is Tefillin Barbie. Wow. The article is interesting, but I'm just arrested by Tefillin Barbie....

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Latin Bible of the Week

Long ago I set myself the task of reading the Vulgate, preferably directly from the manuscripts. I try to do a chapter a week, in part to keep Latin fresh when I'm not otherwise working in it, as well as just trying to get to know the book and style of Latin that influenced the medieval period so heavily. I'm not always consistent or successful in making the time to do a chapter a week, but today I did. I started a month or so back on the book of Sirach, aka Ecclesiasticus in part because I've not ever read all of it in English much less anything else, and I've a new appreciation for wisdom literature. So here is today's reading:

1 fili accedens seruituti Dei sta in iustitia et timore et praepara animam tuam ad temptationem
2 deprime cor tuum et sustine declina aurem et excipe uerba intellectus et ne festines in tempus obductionis
3 sustine sustentationes Dei coniungere Deo et sustine ut crescat in nouissimo uita tua
4 omne quod tibi adplicitum fuerit accipe et in dolore sustine et in humilitate tua habe patientiam
5 quoniam in igne probatur aurum et argentum homines uero receptibiles in camino humiliationis
6 crede Deo et recuperabit te et dirige uiam tuam et spera in illum serua timorem illius et in illo ueteresce
7 metuentes Deum sustinete misericordiam eius et non deflectatis ab illo ne cadatis
8 qui timetis Deum credite illi et non euacuabitur merces uestra
9 qui timetis Deum sperate in illum et in oblectatione ueniet uobis misericordia
10 qui timetis Deum diligite illum et inluminabuntur corda uestra
11 respicite filii nationes hominum et scitote quis sperauit in Dominum et confusus est
12 permansit in mandatis eius et derelictus est et quis inuocauit illum et despexit illum
13 quoniam pius et misericors Deus et remittit in tempore tribulationis peccata omnibus exquirentibus se in ueritate
14 uae duplici corde et labiis scelestis et manibus malefacientibus et peccatori terram ingredienti duabus uiis
15 uae dissolutis corde qui non credunt Deo ideo non protegentur ab eo
16 uae his qui perdiderunt sustinentiam qui dereliquerunt uias rectas et deuerterunt in uias prauas
17 et quid facietis cum inspicere coeperit Deus
18 qui timent Dominum non erunt incredibiles uerbo illius et qui diligunt illum conseruabunt uiam illius
19 qui timent Dominum inquirent quae beneplacita sunt illi et qui diligunt eum replebuntur lege ipsius
20 qui timent Dominum parabunt corda sua et in conspectu illius sanctificabunt animas suas
21 qui timent Dominum custodiunt mandata illius et patientiam habebunt usque ad inspectionem illius
22 dicentes si paenitentiam non egerimus incidemus in Dei manus et non in manus hominum
23 secundum enim magnitudinem illius sic et misericordia ipsius cum ipso

Vetus Latina

This group has placed an excellent edition of the VL of John's gospel online.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Mind the Gap

Aelfric in the Letter to Sigeweard fits things into the typical "ages of the world", identifying 8. He traces in two places Christ's birth in the sixth age of the world, but his final comment on the ages traces the sixth age as BEGINNING at the Ascension and proceeding to Judgement Day. There seems to be an uncertainty about what to do with Jesus' lifetime: does the Incarnation mark a new age, or is it part of the old one and the Ascension mark the beginning of the new? Alefric seems unsure....

Carnivalesque XXXI

Carnivalesque XXXI's roundup of blog entries of note is up at Tiruncula

Friday, September 21, 2007

Matthew: Anti-Pauline Sentiments

This began as a) reading a new article by David Sims in the latest New Testament Studies on Matthew 7 as specifically anti-Pauline. The bloggers at Deinde offered a response to the article, which I had read a couple days before running into the blog. I posted the following comments on the E-Matthew list:

Deinde has a 2 part post on Daniel Sims' latest article. I just read
this over the weekend, but I'm one of those who while perhaps not
going quite as far as Sims think that it is hard to read Matthew as
pro-Pauline or reconcile some of Matthew's statements with Paul. The
post is interesting in that it seeks to disprove Sims central thesis,
that Matthew is writing directly against Paul and not those who have
distorted Paul. IN my view though, the blogger raises some good
issues, but in the end doesn't assail Sims position. For example, one
objection is that Paul like Matthew has the.....

I didn't quite finish it, but continued in another post....
First, this assumes that some points of agreement must mean that
there can not be significant points of disagreement.

Second, most of the passages to which he points, save one, don't seem
to me to address the issue the blogger desires: none of them are the
defense of Torah or statements about its usefulness. So even if
"Matthew" has read Paul's letter to the Romans, which in itself is
doubtful, those passages are not going to warm the cockles of
Matthew's heart. Even the passage in Romans 13 which Deinde (a team
of bloggers, not sure who did that entry), points out is an
agreement between Matthew and Paul (Paul's recitation of the
"commandments" of which the greatest is love of neighbor as self)
does not set these in the context of observing the Torah as Torah--in
fact this proto-"love and do as you please" may in fact be read as
"set aside the Torah IF you "love" for love fulfills the Torah (or
"love is all you need" from the Boys from Liverpool). So rather than
affirm Matthew's view of the Law, the statements in Rom 13:8-10 might
despite their verbal similarity mean opposite things.

Third, even if Paul and Matthew agree on the point of "love your
neighbor as yourself" as the greatest commandment, it might be noted
that so do the Pharisees. Yet, one can hardly claim that such
agreement with the Pharisees means that these Pharisees, Matthew, and
Paul have no sources of rather significant disagreement with one
another.

Fourth and lastly, I think the blogger at Deinde has forgotten or at
least overlooked passages like Acts 21: 20-21 and further 21:28. The
charge against Paul as preaching AGAINST the Torah seems not only a
very real one, but Luke takes some pains to illustrate a) the
Jerusalem churches' full blessing and acceptance of Paul's message to
the Gentiles [note though that he does not here mention James or any
other leader] and b) that he subsequently presents Paul as an
observant Jew well versed in the Torah and "pirke avoth" to borrow a
title. Luke, writing at least Acts after Matthew, is well aware of
the attacks on Paul and the perception of Paul, not Paul's followers
who are at issue here, but Paul himself. Such a testimony I think
underscores the veracity of Sims reading of Matthew 7.

Just to add a few points too: Matthew's Jesus deals with other Jewish groups. In the Sermon on the Mount there are several statements criticizing the practices and positions of Pharisees, Sadduceess, and perhaps even "Essenes", at least positions taken by the Qumran community. And we know from the NT itself that all is not peaceful and unified in the early CHristian movement and that the writers of the NT documents made no bones about criticizing those with whom they disagreed, including the famed disagreement between Peter and Paul recorded in Galatians. Should it then be a surprise if Matthew while criticizing other non-Christian Jewish groups in the gospel should not also be taking to task other Christians who have gone awry from his point of view? Rhetorical question....of course it shouldn't.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Roberta Frank and Baseball

For those not in the know yet:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/30/sports/baseball/30squirrel.html?_r=2&ref=sports&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

Yes, we medievals do get around!

Friday, August 03, 2007

April cont.

WAAAYYY back in April as I was doing my Congress paper, I gave a post that talked about continuity, reinterpretation of works, etc. The point was to try and compare medieval strategies of appropriation of different works that a) either take the "same" work, and here we have to be careful of terms like "same", but retell it with new spins, essentially taking an old story and making it new and/or b) appropriating a text from the past and recasting it in some way. I used Tolkien and Tolkien movies as one example.

A related realization came at the same time. Now this realization is new to me, and its precious for all that, but the rest of the medieval world has probably realized this and it is so basic as not to be considered. But here it is: it is the same process and the same mindset that approaches the Germanic past in Beowulf and Widsith and borrows from the great cauldron of story that also produces Judith and Exodus etc out of enlarged cauldron of story that now includes Biblical and Roman/Classical sources; AND influences prose writers like Aelfric, Hrabanus, and the like: i. e. the encyclopedia approach for which some of the early middle ages has been dismissed as is the same process that leaves us tantalizing hints of Volsunga Saga in Beowulf or Theodoric in Norse tales and the like. Thus the prose writers are picking and choosing in the same way as the oral poet. As has been long recognized now neither Bede, nor Alfred, nor Aelfric are mere translators or users of the past in an unqualified fashion. Rather they take, they reshape, reuse, and produce new, innovative texts. In my Congress paper I explored this somewhat by suggesting that evidence of audience reception in the manuscripts in which Letter to Sigeweard reside s reveal a degree of appropriation in a way similar to how tales become retold, the text in manuscript is no longer Aelfric's but becomes a sermon in Oxford, Bodley, 343, and in Oxford, Laud 509 we have evidence of readers, Old English and Latin, who are commenting and interacting with the text making it their own. In other manuscripts we seem to have parts of the Letter excised from their context and reused as homilies. In 2 of these cases, the text is anonymized: in Bodley 343 and London, BL, Harley, there is little to suggest that the homilies were Aelfrician in origin, they've become someone else's text.

Now I say all this to make a modern point, one that Scott Nokes will be making in an essay to be published in the next Heroic Age. There's been a spate of medieval movies, always has been really from Errol Flynn in Robin Hood to the great Lion in Winter to the BBC's recent Robin Hood series and even some bad ones like Christopher Lambert's Beowulf complete with Roland in purple tights and porn stars as Grendel's mother and an invented character supposedly Hrothgar's daughter. While Heaney's Beowulf may not be "Beowulf" in one sense, as one scholar of note has written that she threw the book across the room, it is in another as much Beowulf as the Beowulf in Cotton Vitellius A.xv, for we assume that the version in the manuscript is but one poet's version and that another performer, written or oral, would have a somewhat different Beowulf. Similarly, Tolkien steals scenes from Beowulf or even rewrites The Wanderer while Tolkien himself is "retold" in the various movies (and even in the numerous books that literally rip him off). I posit that this is the same strategy of retelling and appropriation that the medieval authors we medievalists study engaged in! And rather than be excoriated and put down and groaned over, we should welcome these retellings.

We should welcome them not because they give us an excuse to write papers for the Studies in Medievalism conference, or give us an opportunity to relax our gaze somewhat as we do some easy work (by which I mean I need not hone my Latin or Old ENglish or other linguistic skills or strain my eyes peering at a manuscript page damaged by fire and hard to distinguish words etc). I mean that we should welcome them because we want there to be interest in the medieval period! We in fact should FAN THE FLAMES! Sure, some, if not many, of these films and stories will not be historically accurate, nor will they be "medieval" in the sense that they'll appeal to medieval audiences. In the latter case, while our story stealing strategies may in fact be similar if not the same, all stories even retold ones speak to our own time. So a medieval story retold is going to be told for a modern audience, which has a different sense of story, humor, and characterization than the medieval. In the former case of "historically" accurate, I don't worry too much about that either in the case of stories. The Old English Exodus for example is certainly not historically accurate, but its a grand piece of poetry.

This isn't to say that I think we as professionals should give up historical accuracy or talking about medieval literature in favor of modern medievalisms or anything of that nature. I am saying that we should, for practical, theoretical, and survival reasons encourage, welcome, praise, and comment on modern medievalisms rather than disparage, reject, put them down. Medieval studies is increasingly in the academy being marginalized. Particularly in the English departments of the world, Old English is no longer a requirement, medievalists who retire are not being replaced, and if the medieval is covered at all, it is in a general survey course. Of all the jobs in the last few years advertised for English departments, 15 and 13 were general medieval positions, and most of those expected some sort of composition or WOrld Literature or Renaissance component--i. e. medieval was only a part of the package. 3 last year were specifically for Old English, 4 the year before if I remember correctly. This doesn't bode well. But if, and here I'm echoing Scott's piece but I am in complete agreement with it, we are seen as engaged in popular culture, and can harness popular culture to increase interest in our fields, all the better for us.

And we already know that such a strategy works. The recent Chronicle of Higher Ed article on the Congress at K'zoo was revelatory in this respect. Of the current crop of young medievalists, and those currently in grad school, the vast majority developed their interest in medieval studies by reading Tolkien or playing D and D, or fantasy literature, or some other popular culture expression of medievalism! If it worked for them, why not for a wider audience? Its the old adage all over again: you attract more flies with honey than vinegar. Encouraging and welcoming these movies is going to attract students who want to learn more, and so we have opportunities to correct the errors without being disparaging. Being negative and decrying the movies will drive away potential students, and we can not afford to drive away students--without students interested in our work at all levels, universities will not hire us in this increasingly market driven view of higher education prevalent in the US now and being exported abroad.

So theoretical and practical points: modern medievalisms are engaging in a medieval practice by appropriating and retelling medieval stories and we should be happy and encourage that and reap the benefits of such interest. Ok, sermonizing mode off.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Book Proposals at Bloggy U

Over at Bloggy U the issue of Book Proposals and how do one has been broached. Anyone with advice, knowledge, experience, and insight is welcome, nay, begged, cajoled, etc., to post.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Site worthy of Note

I was updating the HA links files and came across this site. Ah, if only every medieval text could be so treated:

">Vita St. Eufrosine

Monday, June 25, 2007

Medieval News

Mysterious medieval maze restored:
http://www.24dash.com/news/58/22379/index.htm

Ethiopia's 'lost' Muslim towns belie Christian past:
http://www.metimes.com/storyview.php?StoryID=20070615-051900-6778r

Othello's Cypriot citadel on the brink of ruin:
http://in.today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=entertainmentnews&storyID=2007-06-15T190741Z_01_NOOTR_RTRMDNC_0_India-303299-1.xml

Medieval fun to see in 800 years of city:
http://www.wetherbynews.co.uk/wetherby-news?articleid=2954987

Marking market's start, Charter Market in Cricklade:
http://www.wiltsglosstandard.co.uk/news/latest/display.var.1474814.0.marking_markets_start.php

Up and coming star' librarian to catalog Westminster Abbey books:
http://www.news.uiuc.edu/news/07/0612cook.html

Claim that £1m El Cid sword is a forgery provokes a duel of words:
http://news.independent.co.uk/europe/article2651055.ece

Romanian government criticized by lawmakers for returning 'Dracula
Castle':
http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/06/14/europe/EU-GEN-Romania-Draculas-Castle.php

Monday, June 18, 2007

More Medieval News June 8-16

Medieval News June 8-14

Bodies from Viking ships to be exhumed

Ancient Hill of Tara is put on 'crisis list' backed

Israel Museum unveils rare Biblical manuscript from 'silent era'

Is this Chaucer's astrolabe?

Konstantin der Große - Landesausstellung in Trier


English manuscript unveiled in LA


June 8

Saint:
William, Archbishop of York, d. 1154

Death:
218 Macrinus, Roman Emperor
410 St. Melania the Elder
632 Muhammad
1042 Harthacanute, King of Denmark and England
1154 St. William of York
1376 Edward, the Black Prince
1383 Thomas de Ros, 5th Baron de Ros, English Crusader
1384 Kanami, Japanese actor
1476 George Neville, English archbishop and statesman
1492 Elizabeth, wife of King Edward IV of England

Events:
68 The Roman Senate accepts emperor Galba.
536 St. Silverius consecrated as pope
793 Norsemen sack Lindesfarne
1042 Harthacnut, King of England & Denmark, dies, is succeeded in
England by Edward the Confessor, in Denmark by Magnus, King of
Norway
1147 King Louis VII and Queen Eleanor of France leave St. Denis on
crusade
1191 Richard I, King of England, lands at Acre
1287 Revolt of Rhys ap Meredudd
1333 Edward III orders seizure of the Isle of Man
1374 Chaucer given the office of Controller of Customs
1405 Richard le Scrope, Archbishop of York and Thomas Mowbray, Earl
of Norfolk, executed in York on Henry IV's orders.
1495 First written record of Scotch Whisky




June 9

Saints:
Ephrem the Syrian
Columba
Willibald of Eichstät

Death:
68 Nero, Roman Emperor
373 Ephrem the Syrian, Christian hymnodist
597 St. Columba (Colum Cille)
630 King Shahrbaraz of Persia
1171 St. Silverius consecrated as bishop
1290 Beatrice, Dante's inspiration
1361 Philippe de Vitry, French composer

Events:
1064 Coimbra is taken by Ferdinand, King of Castile
1075 HOMBURG (defeat of Saxons by Henry VI of France)
1156 Marriage of Friedrich "Barbarossa" King of Germany, to
Beatrix of Burgundy
1198 Otto IV chosen King of Germany
1247 Carpini, Papal Legate returning from the Mongols, reaches Kiev,
Russia
1310 Duccio's Maestà Altarpiece, a seminal artwork of the early
Italian Renaissance, is unveiled and installed in the Siena
Cathedral in Siena, Italy.
1358 MEAUX (Jacquerie defeated by Captal de Buch and Gaston Phoebus)
1365 Pope Urban V excommunicates Don Pedro, King of Castile
1480 Turks attack Malta

June 10

Saints:
John Dominic, Archbishop of Ragusa

Birthday:
1213 - Fakhruddin 'Iraqi, Persian philosopher

Death:
1075 Ernest of Austria
1190 Friedrich "Barbarossa," King of Germany, Burgundy, and the Holy
Roman Empire,drowns in the Saleph River while leading an army to
Jerusalem.
1424 Duke Ernest of Austria

Events:
1179 Baldwin IV defeated by Saladin
1194 Much of Chartres, France, destroyed by fire
1248 Destruction of Bergen, Norway, by fire
1258 Provisions of Oxford Issued
1376 Election of Wenceslaus as King of Germany
1429 Defeat of the Earl of Suffolk by Joan d'Arc


June 11

Birthday:
1403 John IV, Duke of Brabant
1456 Anne Neville, wife of Richard III of England

Death:
1183 Henry the Young King, son of Henry II of England
1216 Henry of Flanders, Emperor of the Latin Empire
1216 Henry, Emperor of Rumania supposedly poisoned by his wife
1292 Roger Bacon
1488 King James III of Scotland

Events:
1144 Dedication of the Abbey Church of St. Denis, the first great Gothic church in France
1186 The Glastonbury Abbey "Lady Chapel" is consecrated
1258 Provisions of Oxford reforms proposed by Parliament
1381 "John Ball hath rungen his bell" Peasant revolt in England
1474 Louis XI, King of France, ratifies the "Perpetual Peace"
1488 SAUCHIEBURN; Murder of James III, King of Scotland
1496 Columbus returns to Spain

June 12

Saints:
Barnabus the Apostle
Pedro Rodrigues and Companions, Military Martyrs

Birthday:
1107 Emperor Gaozong of China

Death:
816 St. Leo, Pope
918 Ethelfleda, daughter of Alfred "the Great," King of England
1020 Lyfing, Archbishop of Canterbury
1418 Bernard VII, Count of Armagnac, Constable of France
1435 John FitzAlan, 14th Earl of Arundel, English military leader
1479 St. John of Sahagun

Events:
1298 Wm. Wallace routs English
1349 Edward III, King of England, orders the practice of Archery
1365 King Edward III bans football in London, orders archery practice
1381 Peasants' Revolt: In England rebels arrive at Blackheath.
1402 John, Duke of Burgundy, massacres 3500 people in Paris
1418 An insurrection delivers Paris to the Burgundians.
1429 Hundred Years' War: Joan of Arc leads the French army in their
capture of the city and the English commander, William de la
Pole, 1st Duke of Suffolk in the second day of the Battle of
Jargeau.
1442 Alfonso V, King of Aragon, crowned King of Naples
1446 Peace of Constance
1458 College of St. Mary Magdelen founded, Oxford, England

June 13

Saints:
Anthony of Padua

Birthday:
823 Charles II (the Bald), King of France & Emperor

Death:
1103 Ali az-Zahir, caliph
1231 St. Anthony of Padua
1256 Tankei, Japanese sculptor

Events:
1290 Coup on the Slave Dynasty in India
1329 The Kingship of Robert I, "the Bruce," King of Scots, is
recognized by Pope John XXII
1373 Anglo-Portuguese Treaty of Alliance (world's oldest) is signed
1374 Chaucer given an annual pension from John of Gaunt
1392 Pierre de Craon attempts the assassination of Clisson, Constable
of France
1483 Richard of Gloucester accuses Jane Shore of sorcery

June 14

Saints:
Methodius I of Constantinople
Joseph the Hymnographer

Birthday:
1444 Nilakantha Somayaji, Indian mathematician
1479 Giglio Gregorio Giraldi, Italian poet

Deaths:
775 Saint Ciarán of Disert-Kieran, Irish saint and writer
847 St. Methodius of Constantinople
1161 Emperor Qinzong of China (b. 1100)
1381 Simon Sudbury, Archbishop of Canterbury

Events:
1144 Consecration of Notre Dame, Paris
1170 Coronation of Henry III as King of England
1191 Phillip II of France orders a general assault on Acre. It fails
1272 Founding of Gouda, Holland
1325 Ibn Batuta leaves Tangier to make Pilgrimage to Mecca. He does not return for twenty-nine years.
1334 The Mongol Khatun (Princess) Bayalun journeys to Constantinople
1381 Richard II makes promises to rebels
1497 Murder of Duke of Gandia, Juan Borgia

Quote of the week:
Bernard of Chartres used to say that we are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, so that we can see more than they, and things at a greater distance, not by virtue of any sharpness of sight on our part, or any physical distinction, but because we are carried high and raised up by their giant size.--John of Salisbury

Friday, June 08, 2007

Poetry Day

Robert Frost:

'OUT, OUT--'
The buzz-saw snarled and rattled in the yard
And made dust and dropped stove-length sticks of wood,
Sweet-scented stuff when the breeze drew across it.
And from there those that lifted eyes could count
Five mountain ranges one behind the other
Under the sunset far into Vermont.
And the saw snarled and rattled, snarled and rattled,
As it ran light, or had to bear a load.
And nothing happened: day was all but done.
Call it a day, I wish they might have said
To please the boy by giving him the half hour
That a boy counts so much when saved from work.
His sister stood beside them in her apron
To tell them 'Supper'. At the word, the saw,
As if to prove saws knew what supper meant,
Leaped out at the boy's hand, or seemed to leap--
He must have given the hand. However it was,
Neither refused the meeting. But the hand!
The boy's first outcry was a rueful laugh.
As he swung toward them holding up the hand
Half in appeal, but half as if to keep
The life from spilling. Then the boy saw all--
Since he was old enough to know, big boy
Doing a man's work, though a child at heart--
He saw all spoiled. 'Don't let him cut my hand off
The doctor, when he comes. Don't let him, sister!'
So. But the hand was gone already.
The doctor put him in the dark of ether.
He lay and puffed his lips out with his breath.
And then -- the watcher at his pulse took fright.
No one believed. They listened at his heart.
Little -- less -- nothing! -- and that ended it.
No more to build on there. And they, since they
Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.


From Beowulf in honor of Karen:
Forth he fared at the fated moment,
sturdy Scyld to the shelter of God.
Then they bore him over to ocean's billow,
loving clansmen, as late he charged them,
while wielded words the winsome Scyld,
the leader beloved who long had ruled....

In the roadstead rocked a ring-dight vessel,
ice-flecked, outbound, atheling's barge:
there laid they down their darling lord
on the breast of the boat, the breaker-of-rings,
by the mast the mighty one. Many a treasure
fetched from far was freighted with him.

No ship have I known so nobly dight
with weapons of war and weeds of battle,
with breastplate and blade: on his bosom lay
a heaped hoard that hence should go
far o'er the flood with him floating away.

No less these loaded the lordly gifts,
thanes' huge treasure, than those had done
who in former time forth had sent him
sole on the seas, a suckling child.

High o'er his head they hoist the standard,
a gold-wove banner; let billows take him,
gave him to ocean. Grave were their spirits,
mournful their mood. No man is able
to say in sooth, no son of the halls,
no hero 'neath heaven, -- who harbored that freight!

taken from the translation of http://www.kami.demon.co.uk/gesithas/readings/bss_me.html

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Heroic Age Issue 10

The Board and Editors of The Heroic Age would like to announce
our tenth issue located at www.heroicage.org. With this issue, The
Heroic Age has introduced 2 sections of articles, one themed, and one
unthemed. We hope you enjoy this issue. Below, I've included a
table of contents, and I would also like to remind you of our Calls
for Papers for upcoming issues.

Issue 10:
Articles: Saints and Sanctity
Relics, Religious Authority, and the Sanctification of Domestic Space
in the Home Gregory of Tours: An Analysis of the Glory of the
Confessors 20
by Dennis Quinn

Miracle Stories and the Primary Purpose of Adomnán's Vita Columbae
by Sara E. Ellis Nilsson

Preserving the Body Christian: The Motif of "Recapitation" in
Ireland's Medieval Hagiography by Máire Johnson

Boniface's Booklife: How the Ragyndrudis Codex Came to be a Vita
Bonifatii by Michel Aaij

Tradition and Transformation in the Cult of St. Guthlac in Early
Medieval England by John R. Black

Articles-Unthemed Section

The P-Celtic Place-Names of North-East England and South-East Scotland
by Bethany Fox

Trade, Gift-giving and Romanitas: A Comparison of the Use of Roman
Imports in Western Britain and Southern Scandinavia by Thomas Green

Editions and Translations

The Revelatio Ecclesiae de Sancti Michaelis and the Mediterranean
Origins of Mont St.-Michel by John Charles Arnold (Forthcoming)

Columns

The Forum: The Historicity and Historiography of Arthur: A critical
review of King Arthur: Myth-Making and History by N. Higham, and The
Reign of Arthur: From History to Legend by C. Gidlow by Howard M.
Wiseman

Electronic Medievalia: If I were "You": How Academics Can Stop
Worrying and Learn to Love "the Encyclopedia that Anyone Can Edit" by
Daniel Paul O'Donnell

Continental Business by Michel Aaij

History by Biography:

The Changing Hagiography of St. Æthelthryth by Stacie Turner

Saint Elisabeth of Thuringia, 1207-2007 by Michel Aaij

In addition we have our book reviews edited by Brad Eden from various
contributors and recent losses to the Medieval community.

Issue 11 is planned for a mid-summer release.

Larry J. Swain

Monday, April 23, 2007

Medieval StoryTelling and Modern Appropriation

I'm working on some odd thoughts that are crashing in my head as disparate projects are cross-pollinating each other.

One of the things that I'm trying to articulate is that it strikes me that much criticism of Hollywood these days regarding taking books and adapting as movies is somewhat misguided on the part of us medievalists. I have in mind specifically attempts to film Beowulf for example, or even the Tolkien movies....

If I can try and boil down the thought: In medieval literature we are accustomed to noting that stories live. They have their own life. Chaucer tells a version of an older story that many other tale tellers have told, such as the Fall of Troy in Troilus and Criseide, Shakespeare takes a story from Saxo Grammaticus and turns it into Hamlet and so on. Peter Jackson made LoTR into a movie, it isn't the same as Tolkien's LoTR. Seamus Heaney translated Beowulf and as any Anglo-Saxonist will tell you it is Heaneywulf, not Beowulf.

So what I'm saying is this: it seems to me that the medieval method of story telling: taking a preexisting tale and reshaping it in a new context/genre/medium is still with us and we can trace it from the medieval period through Shakespeare and Marlowe, through Chapman's Homer, Pope's Iliad, Dryden's Aeneid, Joyce's Ulysses right up to the present with Jackson's LoTR. By reshaping the story, these adapters and retellers have made a new work of art, related to what was previously there, but sufficiently different as to stand on its own as an independent work. So when these Beowulf movies come along, and we groan at the fact that it isn't our Beowulf, perhaps we should groan less, and listen to the new story and judge it on those terms.

Still working on this, or wondering if it is worth working on.....

Monday, April 09, 2007

You wanna know some irony? I've been thinking about this in the back of my mind......a dozen years or so ago Robertson wrote a book on "The New World Order" a diatribe that many Christians bought against the Clinton administration: a liberal cabal out to get Christians and destroy America. It seems to me though that his is slight of hand: what's happened is that since 2000 we've had a right-wing, Robertson supported cabal who has destroyed America, taken away our civil rights, and made American ideals a mockery on the world stage. His book was not only an anti-left treatise, but a blue print for Bushites and neo-cons on how to gain and keep power. Something to think about....

Blogs and Tenure

Cathy Davidson at HASTAC,not a blog I know, has raised the issue of blogs and tenure. Mark Goodacre has responded at: New Testament Gateway blog, followed by April DeConick at Forbidden Gospels Blog.

I'm not sure what I think yet, but this is worth thinking about beyond the Religious Studies corridor....

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Update

Derek the Anglican had also written on State of the Question from an outsider's perspective. Click on the link and scroll down to the 12th. Good comments.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

State of the Field Repost

I'm reposting this post because although started on Feb. 5, I only just finished it and so it should be at the top.

Not long ago Mike Drout on his blog mused on the state of the field in Anglo-Saxon studies at Wormtalk The point of the post, one in a series Mike plans over the year, is that the unavailability of key research tools (such as Ker's Catalogue) and the fact that there is no known plans to make these tools available is one indication that the field is not in good shape.

Tiruncula was the first to respond, http://tiruncula.typepad.com/. Her viewpoint is one from the inside, with an emphasis on collegiality, interdisciplinarity, fluidity of field borders, and the like and resports that from that interior perspective, the field is healthy.

Scott Nokes, Unlocked Wordhoard, responded by making some observations: we suffer when we get away from doing literature and into doing philosophy-lite and history-lite.

Responding to Mike and Scott is Eileen Joy at My Life Among Anglo-Saxonists who takes both to task for various comments, though in a way doesn't address the question of the state of the field, but does touch on many of the issues that addressing the state of the field essay should.

So how does one assess the State of Anglo-Saxon studies? 1) tools available 2) positions that are open and filled each year 3) numbers of graduate students finding employment 4) number of good materials being published 5) list servs/discussion boards

There are other measures too. I have to agree with Tiruncula though. Overall, the field measured from the inside is in a pretty good state. There is a great deal of good discussion going on, journals dedicated specifically to Anglo-Saxon studies, many of the tools we use are still available or are currently being redone. The exceptions are the lexical tools (pace the Dictionary of Old English) and manuscript tool--but let's face facts. In this age of the bottom line, there is increasingly little room for scholarly works at all, much less those works whose audience numbers some 200 in the world. I have to disagree here with Mike Drout: as much as I would love to have some of those tools readily available and in print yet, I'm not sure that it is an indication of ill health in the field.

So what does ail us? It isn't what's happening inside the field, because that right now is pretty exciting. It is our place within the academy as a whole that is wanting.

In part this is because Humanities in general are on the wane. There is a decided emphasis now on math and science and technology as where our future hope lies whether we're speaking of the US, the West, Europe, or the world, the solution to our problems are to be found in science and technology, not in asking questions about who we are, where we are, where we come from and so on. Anglo-Saxon studies certainly suffers from the same problems that the rest of the humanities do.

But there is more. As the "pie" shrinks, there is increasing competition for a slice. So why do medievalists generally, and specifically Anglo-Saxonists in English departments seem to be increasingly marginalized? Drout suggests that in part our linguistic skills/interests lie behind our difficulty here. I agree with Drout that our philology, the necessity of learning Latin, Old Norse, Old Irish, Old French, and talking about meter and grammar and all that sort of thing separates the medievalist in general and Anglo-Saxonist in particular from the rest of the English department. All these related fields suffer within the academy: the number of programs teaching Old Norse, or Old Irish, are few and far between. Even Medieval Latin is a bastard step child on the Classics departments in too many instances. Yet, wonderful and exciting things are happening in those fields as well, so that like Anglo-Saxon studies, the view from within is good, the view from the hilltop of the academy is not so rosy.

I could point to faculty lines not being filled when a medievalist retires, or that fewer and fewer graduate students are being hired to the tenure track, or to the lack of tools in our field, and what not and so on. But many of these problems are not Anglo-Saxonists alone but to some degree at least are spread across the academy, particularly on the Humanities side. But I think it safe to say that we are all aware that there is a problem out there.

I think that the root of the problem lies in a perception that generally Humanities are unimportant relative to other "harder" disciplines. By "harder" I mean both "hard" in the sense that a social scientist, historian, or chemist can point to quantifiable results and measurable results. That is seldom true for the Anglo-Saxonist, except those of us who deal in philology, and even then it isn't always as true as one would like. Likewise, the academy in general and students ask what value, meaning what practical value, is there in studying literature, and especially in studying dead languages and literature in dead languages. There are certainly exceptions to that attitude, but.....Related is the attitude that dismisses the ancient, classical, and medieval worlds as unimportant and having nothing to say to the present.

Ten years or so ago Victor David Hanson and a colleague whose name escapes and whom I'm too lazy to look up wrote a book, a wonderful rant really, entitled Who Killed Homer?. To some degree the rant was aimed at Classicists who engaged in theory, and so separated the wonderful texts and stories from the audiences who would hear them and benefit from them.

To some degree this is true. To another degree it isn't. Criticisms of how a scholar does her or his work are as old as the university (and actually older, but let me start somewhere). Along side the rise of the universities was the rise of scholasticism, and certainly this movement had its detractors using much the same vocabulary. Likewise doing philology and "just literature" have had their detractors as well and how these movements and practices have ruined literature for everyone. Just this past week Salon or Slate had an English professor write about how academia separates the pleasure of books from the study of literature.

I sympathize with this, I have to admit. Being a philologist who got into the field for love of language and love of the literature, it distresses me no end ot see students just not get into Beowulf or Sir Gawain, and I see some of my colleagues use the texts to champion a particular theoretical stance that in my view is a discussion best left out of the introductory course. And I agree too that often "theory" is badly practiced, just as philology was at times, and often can appear to have nothing to do with the literature at hand. But our problem in the academy does not stem from doing too much or too little theory, too much or too little literature, too much or too little philology. I love all these things, and may they continue to be practiced in health and in a healthy field, while we weed out those who practice those disciplines poorly (if I hear another MLA paper explain the basics of Focault to me one more time I swear I shall shoot the speaker--I have read him, thanks, I need not have a 16 min crash course in your paper!). Let me say to Eileen and more indirectly to Allen Franzen, that I think theory is important and more medievalists ought to consider various theoretical approaches. But contra Frantzen I do not believe that engaging in more theory or being more deeply involved in MLA and such is what will save Old English/Medieval studies. It might even hurt it, as we are perceived of trying to be like our fellows but not getting there. After all, a theorist who no longer practices in his literary period could care less about the queering of the middle ages or the societal fringes in literature in 12th century France. What the theorist qua theorist is interested in is not application to a period, author, or genre but rather in the theory; at its worst the theorist will make theory points by literally raping period, author, or genre while the accolytes nod in agreement. This doesn't make theory itself bad, but it does make much of the current practice of theory in its relationship to literature a negative one and it is not a road I wish to see medievalists go down.

BUT, that said, we do need to step up our theory in some ways. Presentism is certainly one means of doing so. It is a truism, but a profound one, that our modern Western society is not built on the Classical past as the Renaissance and a good public school education pre-1970 told us. Our modern Western culture is based on and rooted in the medieval world and the medieval and renaissance attempts to recover what they thought best about the classical past (and to some degree ignoring what they considered to be bad). Thus studying the Middle Ages has something to say to our current world and our situation. Beowulf's anti-war platform has as much to say about gangs in Chicago as it does the Mess in Iraq that his Shrubbery has gotten us into. Certainly when we take over the town in which Saladin was born, and people in the Middle East sit in their coffee shops and talk about the massacres of Richard III etc, and comparisons are made between bin Laden and the Old Man of the Mountains and his trained assasins, then we've entered the medieval world as much as the modern one and certainly we medievalists with a foot in both ought to have some good things to say about all this. And let us remember in talking about global warming that the Medieval Warm Period was followed by the Black Death, it bears some thinking on.

This doesn't mean that we should give up philology, literature, or even applying theory to literature. But it does mean that we should be more a public voice, a public scholar, than we have been heretofore. The more medievalists who are out there practicing this kind of theory, I think , the better our world will be but also the better off we'll be in the academy as a whole.

This has been 6 weeks in the making ,and I've prob. stepped on toes. But that's ok.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

This Week's News

Muslim Women as Mullahs


Medieval Burial Ground Unearthed

Saxon, Roman, and Iron Age finds


If you're in the neighborhood of the British Museum: The Origins of the
British
Thursday 8 March, 18.30
Stephen Oppenheimer, historian and
geneticist, talks about his new book,
The Origins of the British:
A Genetic Detective Story.
£5, concessions £3

More Here


Medieval Skeletons

Kilve, Somerset holds fair for church

MEDIEVAL GARDEN PLOT MAY SINK PLAN FOR NEW HOMES

Review of the TV Program: The Dark Ages

Another Review of THC's much vaunted and advertised "The Dark Ages"

2/23:

Birthday:
1417 Paul II, Roman Catholic pope (1464-71)
1440 Mathias I, King of Hungary

Death:
1011 St. Willigis
1072 St. Peter Damian
1370 David II, King of Scotland
1447 Pope Eugenius IV
1447 Humphrey Plantagenet, Duke of Gloucester

Events:
155 Martyrdom of St. Polycarp of Smyrna
303 Emperor Diocletian orders general persecution of Christians
532 Justinian begins work on the Hagia Sophia
553 Pope Vigilius ratifies verdicts of Council of Constantinople
687 Pepin of Heristal arrives in France
1040 Consecration of the abbey-church at Le Bec, France
1245 John of Plato Carpini connects with the Mongols
1305 A sermon preached in Italy mentioned eye-glasses
1421 Coronation of Catherine, Queen to Henry V of England
1440 Execution of Gilles de Raiz
1455 Johannes Gutenberg prints 1st book, the Bible (approximate date)



2/24:

Birthday:
1304 Muhammad ibn Battutah, Moroccan Arab traveler, travel writer
1463 Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, Italian scholar, Platonist

Events:
303 Publication of the first Roman edict for the persecution of Christians
1208 St. Francis's vocation is revealed to him (probable date)
1303 English invasion of Scotland halted)
1389 Capture of Albert of Mecklenberg, King of Sweden
1429 Joan of Arc arrives at Chinon
1446 Drawing of the earliest known Lottery, in Bruges, Belgium
1450 End of the Ambrosian Republic (2nd Commune) of Florence


2/25:

Death:
616 St. Ethelbert, King of Kent
779 St. Walburga

Events:
493 Negotiations open between the Roman Army, besieged at Ravenna, and
the Ostrogoths
1450 Surrender of Florence to Francesco Sforza
1451 Pope Nicholas V bans all social intercourse between Christians & Jews

2/26:

Birthdays:
1361 King Wenceslaus

Death:
1161 Roger II, King of Sicily
1266 Manfred, King of Sicily

Events:
364 Valentinian becomes Emperor of Rome at Nicaea
493 Surrender of the Roman Army at Ravenna to the Ostrogoths
1147 Crusaders massacre the Jews of Wurzburg


2/27:

Birthdays:
288 Constantine

Events:
425 Theodosius II, Emperor of Byzantium, founds a University
493 End of the Siege of Ravenna
1458 George of Podebrad chosen King of Bohemia


2/28:

Birthday:
1468 Pope Paul III

Death:
922 St. Oswald of Worchester
1212 Honen

Events:
591 Gregory I becomes Pope
1066 Westminster Abbey opens
1258 Tatars burn Baghdad
1476 Besieged Grandson, Switzerland, surrenders to the French
1482 Marquis Rodrigo Ponce de Leon of Cadiz raids Alhama, Granada


3/1:

Birthday:
1389 St. Antonius

Death:
492 St. Felix
601 St. David of Wales (approx. year)
1383 Amadeus VI, the "Green Count" of Savoy

Events:
499 Symmachus, Boethius' father in law, holds synod in Rome on
707 John VII elected p
1244 Fall of Montsegur (Albigensian Crusade)
1260 Mongols under Kitbuqa take Damascus
1360 Chaucer ransomed from the French
1382 Maillotin Rising, Paris (Peasant Revolt)
1383 Charles IV, King of France, subdues Paris
1410 Burning of John Badby, tailor, for heresy and a total Solar Eclipse
1469 William Caxton begins to translate "Receuil of the Histories of
Troy" from the French, to become the first book printed in English


Words of the Week:
tuition-that word that every English speaking college student and parent thereof dreads to hear or read. It comes into English from Anglo-French Norman tuycioun, from Old French tuicion, from Latin tuitio, meaning guardianship, guard, a noun from Latin tueri, to guard, protect, look after. It first appears in the late 13th century in the sense of guardianship, care, custody. By the 15th century it can refer to the position, rather than the state of, of being a protector or guardian. In the late 16th, from this meaning it refers then to the position of being a teacher, a tutor. But it isn't until the nineteenth century that it begins to refer to the fee paid to someone for protection or tutoring.

rechabite-an appropriate word for Ash Wednesday, even if I'm a bit late on that. It comes from the Bible, the Rekabim mentioned in the book of Jeremiah (and later apocrypha too). They refused to drink wine or live in houses. Late medieval use of the word beginning with Wycliffe generally refers to the Biblical material, but in the early modern period there comes Rechabitism, generally referring the practices of the Rechabites, and sometimes specifically to the teetotalism. The Independent Order of Rechabites was a charitiable society founded in the 1830s.

harrow-one of my favorite old English words, in part because it comes from Tolkien and in part because it is used in Beowulf and of course the Harrowing of Hell. It comes from the Old English word herigean, the past participle of which gives us hergod, and a verbal noun hergung. In Middle English these became herwede, herwyng. The =er= of course becomes =ar= in the vowel shift. It is related to the verb harry. Both come from a Proto-Germanic word *kharohan (v.), from *kharjaz "an armed force" and so are related to O.E. here (an army, force), O.N. herr, O.H.G. har, Ger. Heer "host, army"), from PIE root *koro- "war" (cf. Lith. karas "war, quarrel," karias "host, army;" O.C.S. kara "strife;" M.Ir. cuire "troop;" O.Pers. kara "host, people, army;" Gk. koiranos "ruler, leader, commander"). The noun "harrier" comes from "harrow" as well, and so the British military jet "harrier" is a Harrower, one who harrows. It is not related to the verb/noun "harrow" in most place names, indicating a farm implement.

wight-another good ol' fashioned Old English word, wiht, meaning a living being. And so it remains and became eventually an obsolete word until again Tolkien revived it with the Barrow wights, and so now when used it often seems to have a ghostly/preternatural reference.

Medieval TV:

The History Channel:
On March 3 the History of Sex will focus on Medieval Sex
March 4 will air The Plague
March 4 will also reair The Dark Ages. Ugh.

Quote of the Week:
Man thinks, God directs.
(Homo cogitat, Deus indicat.) Alcuin


Site of the Week:

The Book of Carmarthen

Sunday, February 18, 2007

This Week's Medieval News

Medieval Remains Under Barn:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/somerset/6345647.stm

Medieval Church in Northumbria:
http://www.hexham-courant.co.uk/news/viewarticle.aspx?id=464553

Historian angers fellow Jews by exploring medieval accusations of ritual
murder of Christians
http://www.ujc.org/content_display.html?ArticleID=208237

Harrow-on-the-Hill:
http://www.thisishertfordshire.co.uk/news/roundup/display.var.1189931.0.skeleton_find_could_rewrite_church_history.php

Battle of Barnet: http://www.hadas.org.uk/wiki/index.php/Battle_of_Barnet

Stow-on-the-Wold turns 900:
http://www.stowonthewold.net/stow6.htm

Makeover for a Tower:http://heritage.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=208872007

2/9:

Death:
444 St. Cyril of Alexandria
720 Umar II
1088 Muiredach MacRory (Marianus Scotus), Abbot of Ratisbon

Events:
1098 HARENC II (Ridwan fails to relieve the Crusader's Siege of Antioch)
1119 Coronation of Pope Calixtus II in France
1292 First Scottish Parliament assembles at Scone
1401 Burning of a Mr. Sawtre as a Lollard heretic
1458 Marriage of Mathias I, King of Hungary, to Catherine of Bohemia

Events:

2/10:

Death:
543 St. Scholastica
1162 Baldwin III, King of Jerusalem
1221 Muhammad Ala-ed-Din, Shah of Khwarizm
1471 Fredrick II, the "Iron" of Brandenburg

Events:
1258 Mongols sack Baghdad
1306 Murder of the Red Comyn
1354 "The Great Slaughter," A riot, in Oxford, England
1480 The Emperor Go-Tsuchimikado occupies his Palace in Kyoto
1494 Founding of Aberdeen University
1495 Sir William Stanley, English lord chamberlain, executed

2/11:

Birthday:
1466 Elizabeth of York, Queen to Henry VII of England

Death:
680 Caedmon
731 Pope Gregory II
821 St. Benidict of Aniane
824 St. Pashal I, Pope
1250 William de Sonnac, 18th Master of the Templars

Events:
1115 WELFESHOLZ (defeat of Holy Roman Empire's army)
1252 Marriage of Ottakar I, King of Bohemia, to Margaret, widow of King
Henry VII of Germany
1398 The English translation of "de proprietatibus rerum" encyclopaedia
1495 Charles VIII, King of France, enters Naples
1498 Savonerola resumes preaching in defiance of his excommunication

2/12:

Death:
1209 Philippe de Plessiez, 13th Master of the Templars
1242 Henry VII, King of Germany
1294 Kublai Khan

Events:
881 Coronation of Charles III "the Fat," last Emperor of the Franks
1049 Leo IX becomes pope
1111 Henry V, uncrowned Holy Roman Emperor, kidnaps the Pope
1424 Marriage of James I of Scotland to Jane Beaufort
1429 Day Of Herrings (Sir John Falstaff defeats French)

2/13:

Death:
1130 Pope Honorius II

Events:
1282 The IlKhan Abaqua travels from Baghdad to Hamadan
1476 French lay siege to Granson, Switzerland

2/14:

Birthday:
1404 Leon Batista Alberti

Death:
433 St. Maro

Events:
842 Oaths of Strasbourg
1009 Massacre of St. Bruno of Querfurt and his party, by Lithuanians
1014 Coronation of Henry II, "the Saint" as Holy Roman Emperor
1021 Murder (?) of Caliph al-Hakim of Egypt
1130 Election of Innocent II as Pope
1400 Murder of Richard II, King of England
1432 Entrance of Henry VI, King of England and France, into London
1489 Treaty of Dordrecht



2/15:

Birthday:
1368 Sigsimund, King of Hungary and Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor
1483 Babur, founder of the Moghul Empire in India (1526-30)
1497 Philipp Melanchthon, German Protestant reformer

Death:
670 Oswy of Bernicia
1145 Pope Lucius II
1152 Conrad III, King of Germany

Events:
494 Last Lupercalia in Rome
1113 Knights Hospitaller formally named and recognized
1145 Election of Pope Eugenius III
1288 Election of Pope Nicholas IV
1386 Coronation of Wladislas II as King of Poland

Sunday, February 11, 2007

This Week's News

News of the Past Week

Fisherman nets rare medieval cooking pot:
http://www.kilkennypeople.ie/ViewArticle2.aspx?SectionID=2594&ArticleID=2028695

New Discovery at Bodian Castle:
http://www.hastingstoday.co.uk/ViewArticle2.aspx?SectionID=479&ArticleID=2027227

Medieval Leper colony in Coventry:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/coventry_warwickshire/6331147.stm

2/2:

Saints:
Blessed Peter Cambiano, OP (Dominican), Priest, Inquisitor General Also
known as Peter de Ruffi

Birthday:
1208 James I, "the Conqueror," King of Aragon

Death:
1014 Sweyn, King of Denmark
1451 Murad II, Sultan of the Ottomans

Events:
2/2 Candlemas
962 Coronation of Otto I, King of the Lombards, as Holy Roman Emperor
1032 Conrad II, Holy Roman Emperor, claims the throne of Burgundy
1077 Scheduled date for the Diet to convene at Augsburg, Germany, to
settle the matters relating to Henry IV and Pope Gregory VII.
1160 Fredrick Barbarossa, Holy Roman Emperor, takes Crema, Italy, in a
siege noted for atrocities
1190 Richard I, King of England, holds council at Rouen, France, and
appoints William Longchamps as Chief Justicar south of the Humber, with
the North under Hugh Puiset
1258 Hulagu Khan takes Baghdad
1317 Philip V recognized as King of France
1387 Marguerithe I, Queen of Denmark, named Queen of Norway
1389 Last date for English Guilds to send particulars of their
organization to the Royal Council
1440 Coronation of Fredrick III as Holy Roman Emperor
1461 SECOND ST. ALBANS (Edward IV defeats his Earls)
1494 Columbus founds the West Indies slave trade

2/3:

Saints:
St. Blaise, bishop (of Sebaste), martyr
Bl. Odoric of Pordenone, Order of the Friars Minor (Franciscan)
St. Ansgar, Apostle of the North

Death:
619 St. Laurence of Canterbury
1014 Sweyn Forkbeard
1116 Koloman, King of Hungary
1468 Johann Gutenberg

Events:
316 Martyrdom of St. Blaise
590 Election of Pope Gregory I, "the Great"
1200 Count Baldwin of Flanders takes the Crusader's Cross at Bruges
1238 Mongols take Vladimir, Russia
1347 John VI Cantacuzenus enters Constantinople - end of the Civil War
1376 Massacre of the city of Cesena, Italy by Sir John Hawkwood
1461 Battle of Mortimer's Cross
1472 Reconsecration of York Cathedral
1488 Bartholomew Dias anchors in Mossel Bay, South Africa

2/4:

Saints:
St. Joan of Valois, Queen of France
Feast of the Flight into Egypt

Death:
211 Septimus Severus of Rome
846 St. Joannicius
854 Rabanus Maurus
1189 St. Gilbert of Sempringham
1498 Antonio Pollaivolo, sculptor

Events:
855 Rabanus Maurus, archbishop of Mainz, dies
900 Coronation of Louis, "the Child," King of Germany
1194 Richard I, King of England, freed from captivity in Germany

2/5:

Saints:
St. Agatha, virgin, martyr Martyred c.250


Events:
1204 Alexius V proclaimed Emperor in Byzantium
1265 Election of Pope Clement IV

2/6:

Saints:
St. Amand of Maastricht, Abbot


Death:
679 St. Amand of Maastricht
1215 Hojo Tokimasa
1497 Jean d' Ockeghem

Events:
337 Election of Pope Julius I
743 Hisham ibn 'Abd al-Malik, 10th Moslem caliph, dies at about 52
1190 Jews of Norwich, England are massacred
1481 First Auto-da-Fe of the Spanish Inquisition


2/7:

Saints:
St. Theodore the General (Stratelates)

Birthday:
1478 Sir Thomas More

Events:
457 Leo proclaimed Eastern Roman Emperor
1301 Edward I revives the title Prince of Wales, confers it on his son
1313 Robert, "the Bruce," captures Dumfries, Scotland

2/8:

Saints:
St. John of Matha, founder of the Trinitarians

Birthday:
412 St. Proclus, patriarch of Constantinople
1291 Alfonso IV of Portugal

Death:
1265 Hülegü, grandson of Ghengis Khan

Events:
1250 AL MANSURA; death of Fakhr ad-Din, 7th Crusade defeated by Baibars
1254 William of Rubrick records the use of oracles among the Mongols
1492 Charles VIII of France enters Paris

Random Site of the Week:

http://www.pseudoisidor.de/html/uberblick_uber_die_falschungen.HTM
Projekt Pseudo-Isidor

Quote of the Week:

Love is a certain inborn suffering derived from the sight of and excessive meditation upon the beauty of the opposite sex. Andreas Capellanus, Art of Courtly

Monday, February 05, 2007

State of the Field

Not long ago Mike Drout on his blog mused on the state of the field in Anglo-Saxon studies at http://wormtalk.blogspot.com/2006/12/state-of-field-when-i-was-in-graduate.html The point of the post, one in a series Mike plans over the year, is that the unavailability of key research tools (such as Ker's Catalogue) and the fact that there is no known plans to make these tools available is one indication that the field is not in good shape.

Tiruncula was the first to respond, http://tiruncula.typepad.com/. Her viewpoint is one from the inside, with an emphasis on collegiality, interdisciplinarity, fluidity of field borders, and the like and resports that from that interior perspective, the field is healthy.

Scott Nokes, http://unlocked-wordhoard.blogspot.com/2007/01/more-on-state-of-field.html, responded by making some observations: we suffer when we get away from doing literature and into doing philosophy-lite and history-lite.

Responding to Mike and Scott is Eileen Joy athttp://jjcohen.blogspot.com/2007/01/my-life-among-anglo-saxonists-more.html who takes both to task for various comments, though in a way doesn't address the question of the state of the field, but does touch on many of the issues that addressing the state of the field essay should.

So how does one assess the State of Anglo-Saxon studies? 1) tools available 2) positions that are open and filled each year 3) numbers of graduate students finding employment 4) number of good materials being published 5) list servs/discussion boards

There are other measures too. I have to agree with Tiruncula though. Overall, the field measured from the inside is in a pretty good state. There is a great deal of good discussion going on, journals dedicated specifically to Anglo-Saxon studies, many of the tools we use are still available or are currently being redone. The exceptions are the lexical tools (pace the Dictionary of Old English) and manuscript tool--but let's face facts. In this age of the bottom line, there is increasingly little room for scholarly works at all, much less those works whose audience numbers some 200 in the world. I have to disagree here with Mike Drout: as much as I would love to have some of those tools readily available and in print yet, I'm not sure that it is an indication of ill health in the field.

So what does ail us? It isn't what's happening inside the field, because that right now is pretty exciting. It is our place within the academy as a whole that is wanting.

In part this is because Humanities in general are on the wane. There is a decided emphasis now on math and science and technology as where our future hope lies whether we're speaking of the US, the West, Europe, or the world, the solution to our problems are to be found in science and technology, not in asking questions about who we are, where we are, where we come from and so on. Anglo-Saxon studies certainly suffers from the same problems that the rest of the humanities do.

But there is more. As the "pie" shrinks, there is increasing competition for a slice. So why do medievalists generally, and specifically Anglo-Saxonists in English departments seem to be increasingly marginalized? Drout suggests that in part our linguistic skills/interests lie behind our difficulty here. I agree with Drout that our philology, the necessity of learning Latin, Old Norse, Old Irish, Old French, and talking about meter and grammar and all that sort of thing separates the medievalist in general and Anglo-Saxonist in particular from the rest of the English department. All these related fields suffer within the academy: the number of programs teaching Old Norse, or Old Irish, are few and far between. Even Medieval Latin is a bastard step child on the Classics departments in too many instances. Yet, wonderful and exciting things are happening in those fields as well, so that like Anglo-Saxon studies, the view from within is good, the view from the hilltop of the academy is not so rosy.

I could point to faculty lines not being filled when a medievalist retires, or that fewer and fewer graduate students are being hired to the tenure track, or to the lack of tools in our field, and what not and so on. But many of these problems are not Anglo-Saxonists alone but to some degree at least are spread across the academy, particularly on the Humanities side. But I think it safe to say that we are all aware that there is a problem out there.

I think that the root of the problem lies in a perception that generally Humanities are unimportant relative to other "harder" disciplines. By "harder" I mean both "hard" in the sense that a social scientist, historian, or chemist can point to quantifiable results and measurable results. That is seldom true for the Anglo-Saxonist, except those of us who deal in philology, and even then it isn't always as true as one would like. Likewise, the academy in general and students ask what value, meaning what practical value, is there in studying literature, and especially in studying dead languages and literature in dead languages. There are certainly exceptions to that attitude, but.....Related is the attitude that dismisses the ancient, classical, and medieval worlds as unimportant and having nothing to say to the present.

Ten years or so ago Victor David Hanson and a colleague whose name escapes and whom I'm too lazy to look up wrote a book, a wonderful rant really, entitled Who Killed Homer?. To some degree the rant was aimed at Classicists who engaged in theory, and so separated the wonderful texts and stories from the audiences who would hear them and benefit from them.

To some degree this is true. To another degree it isn't. Criticisms of how a scholar does her or his work are as old as the university (and actually older, but let me start somewhere). Along side the rise of the universities was the rise of scholasticism, and certainly this movement had its detractors using much the same vocabulary. Likewise doing philology and "just literature" have had their detractors as well and how these movements and practices have ruined literature for everyone. Just this past week Salon or Slate had an English professor write about how academia separates the pleasure of books from the study of literature.

I sympathize with this, I have to admit. Being a philologist who got into the field for love of language and love of the literature, it distresses me no end ot see students just not get into Beowulf or Sir Gawain, and I see some of my colleagues use the texts to champion a particular theoretical stance that in my view is a discussion best left out of the introductory course. And I agree too that often "theory" is badly practiced, just as philology was at times, and often can appear to have nothing to do with the literature at hand. But our problem in the academy does not stem from doing too much or too little theory, too much or too little literature, too much or too little philology. I love all these things, and may they continue to be practiced in health and in a healthy field, while we weed out those who practice those disciplines poorly (if I hear another MLA paper explain the basics of Focault to me one more time I swear I shall shoot the speaker--I have read him, thanks, I need not have a 16 min crash course in your paper!). Let me say to Eileen and more indirectly to Allen Franzen, that I think theory is important and more medievalists ought to consider various theoretical approaches. But contra Frantzen I do not believe that engaging in more theory or being more deeply involved in MLA and such is what will save Old English/Medieval studies. It might even hurt it, as we are perceived of trying to be like our fellows but not getting there. After all, a theorist who no longer practices in his literary period could care less about the queering of the middle ages or the societal fringes in literature in 12th century France. What the theorist qua theorist is interested in is not application to a period, author, or genre but rather in the theory; at its worst the theorist will make theory points by literally raping period, author, or genre while the accolytes nod in agreement. This doesn't make theory itself bad, but it does make much of the current practice of theory in its relationship to literature a negative one and it is not a road I wish to see medievalists go down.

BUT, that said, we do need to step up our theory in some ways. Presentism is certainly one means of doing so. It is a truism, but a profound one, that our modern Western society is not built on the Classical past as the Renaissance and a good public school education pre-1970 told us. Our modern Western culture is based on and rooted in the medieval world and the medieval and renaissance attempts to recover what they thought best about the classical past (and to some degree ignoring what they considered to be bad). Thus studying the Middle Ages has something to say to our current world and our situation. Beowulf's anti-war platform has as much to say about gangs in Chicago as it does the Mess in Iraq that his Shrubbery has gotten us into. Certainly when we take over the town in which Saladin was born, and people in the Middle East sit in their coffee shops and talk about the massacres of Richard III etc, and comparisons are made between bin Laden and the Old Man of the Mountains and his trained assasins, then we've entered the medieval world as much as the modern one and certainly we medievalists with a foot in both ought to have some good things to say about all this. And let us remember in talking about global warming that the Medieval Warm Period was followed by the Black Death, it bears some thinking on.

This doesn't mean that we should give up philology, literature, or even applying theory to literature. But it does mean that we should be more a public voice, a public scholar, than we have been heretofore. The more medievalists who are out there practicing this kind of theory, I think , the better our world will be but also the better off we'll be in the academy as a whole.

This has been 6 weeks in the making ,and I've prob. stepped on toes. But that's ok.