Monday, October 27, 2008

Reading: The Wanderer

Here's Joel Norman with the opening of "The Wanderer."

Not to be confused with this Wanderer:

Reading: Two Sections of The Ruin

Lest we think he's reciting from memory, Eric Anderson lets us read "The Ruin" backwards through the sheet of paper.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Recitation: The Wife's Lament

I hadn't realized before how many difficult-to-pronounce words there were in the beginning of "The Wife's Lament." A few of my students chose to brave that text anyway, and here's one of them: Nina McNamera with the opening of "The Wife's Lament."

OK, yes, she may be reading it, but I choose to believe she's reciting from memory and just looking at herself on the monitor.

Recitation: The Battle of Brunanburh

Here's Erin Warde's reading of the first 17 lines of "The Battle of Brunanburh." Next time, I'll administer beatings to students who don't memorize. Still, better some poetry than none!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Recitations: "The Wanderer" and "The Seafarer"

As you can see from the various recitations I'll be posting over the next couple of days, my students didn't do so well on actually memorizing their recitations, and they were probably less likely to go from memory on YouTube where everyone can see it.

Still, just two months ago they couldn't have handled OE poetry with any fluency at all, so we're moving along nicely. Here are the first 20-0r-so lines of "The Wanderer," recited by Katie Capps:

... and here are the first 17 lines of "The Seafarer," recited by Janna Livingston:

Let me just remind all those people following along with the class (my best guess is that there are about 30 of you still active), that you are invited to do recitations and post them.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

RIP: Derek Brewer

The word has just spread that Derek Brewer died last night.

For those who don't know who he is, here is a rather understated biography of him. In addition to his own academic work, he also supported medieval studies through publishing and editing with Boydell & Brewer. Even if you aren't an academic, if you've got an interest in medieval studies, you've got a Boydell & Brewer book on your shelves somewhere.

In the e-mail that came around, Elaine Treharne called him "one of the greatest medievalists of our age." That's no exaggeration, but like so many of the truly great, he left behind an infrastructure that will survive him. We'll still benefit from his work for many years to come.

Happy Cotton Library Day!

Happy Cotton Library Day! On this day in 1731, the Cotton Library in the ironically-named Ashburnham House burned down, destroying and damaging many medieval English manuscripts, so it is my custom in medieval lit classes on this day to celebrate -- er, celebrate the books that survived the fire, not the ones that burned.

Today in class we'll have food, medieval music, and try to solve some riddles. I'm coming dressed in my Anglo-Saxon garb. Tomorrow night, the Medieval Club is having a party in the Arboretum, which will be a medieval-themed costume party, complete with medieval dances. If you're in Troy tomorrow, come join us!

So ... what's your favorite text that survived the fire? If you aren't sure, basically they are the ones with the shelfmark Cotton (Roman Emperor) followed by numbers. For example, the Beowulf manuscript is Cotton Vitellius A.xv. Tell us your favorite!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Freaks & Monsters Bleg

I've got to order books for the Studies in Medieval Literature: Freaks and Monsters class I'm teaching in the Spring. The extremely-tentative reading list thus far:

  • Ovid's Metamorphoses (I know this is classical -- for background)
  • OE Physiologus
    Lais of Marie de France
  • The History and Topography of Ireland
  • The Travels of Sir John Mandeville
  • Dante's Inferno
  • The Decameron
  • The Saga of the Volsungs
  • The Saga of King Hrolf Kraki

I'm avoiding Chaucer and Arthurian stuff, because those are covered in other undergrad courses. I'm also avoiding Beowulf & SGGK, because I'm sick of them myself. I might assign "The Monsters and the Critics" anyway, though, under the assumption the students have all read Beowulf before.

Any last minute advice from those who've taught medieval monsters before?* Is there a really, really obvious text I'm blanking on?

*Er, taught about medieval monsters. Unless you've been tenured for so long that your first students were actual medieval monsters.

My Students Have Gone Mad

My students apparently stayed up all night working on videos of themselves doing their old English recitations for extra credit. As far as I can tell, they didn't actually learn them any better (they're all reading them, not really reciting), but they got punchier and sillier.

I may have accidentally started a weird new religious movement, with me as the High Priest of Old English at Ilium.

Right now the videos are all on Facebook; I'll see if I can find a way to embed them here for y'all (2nd person plural) to look at.

Also, I'm going to be posting their actual recitations soon. They have to have the videos done by tomorrow, so I'll probably get them up this weekend. My best guess is that about 30 of you are out there following along with the class -- I would encourage you to do your own recitation, post it on YouTube (or some similar site) and send me the link so I can bring you fame, if not fortune.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Preparing for Old English recitations: A Photo Essay by My Students

Today my Old English students are doing their recitations. The reason I've had no installment of "Learn Old English with the Wordhoard" is that those who are following along are supposed to be memorizing their own 15-20 lines of OE verse. Later in the week, any students who are brave enough can post their recitations to YouTube for extra credit; I'd encourage those following along in the class to do the same and send me a link.
Ever wonder what it's like to actually be in my class? A few of my students recorded the experience and posted it to Facebook. I've put a narrative around their study session:
Recently, a few of them gathered at my door to practice their recitations. They added a sign of warning.
At first, they tried studying hard.
But the first signs of madness crept in.
Soon, their fragile minds began to crack.
Looking at the matter from a different perspective didn't help.

They began to curse Caedmon and all Old English poets who followed him.
Then they realized who the real enemy was.
They rage, oh how they rage.
They try bribery...
... and prayer...
... and finally shunning.
After a long night of study, they are exhausted.
Þæs oferreode, ðisses swa mæg.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Regional Medievalisms

I led a group of undergraduates to the annual Regional Medievalisms conference, held this time at Wesleyan College. Wesleyan has a beautiful campus, and some of the rooms that housed the sessions were stunning. The conference I organized some years ago had rooms that looked like they had been featured in Boring Classrooms Quarterly.

I tried to get some pictures from the students' session, but unfortunately the data projector was on for the entire time, so in each photo it looks like a gateway from another dimension is opening up right next to or behind the student.

Fortunately, though, we held a symposium here on our own campus the week before, in order to get them used to conference presentation -- and we actually got some usable images from that. The one below looks a little weird because everyone is looking at someone asking a question.

From left to right (standing), we have:

  • Jessica Williams, who chaired the Troy University Language and Literature Undergraduate Symposium. She's planning to present a paper at the PCA/ACA meeting in New Orleans this spring. She's also one of my minions.
  • Joel Norman, who presented a paper entitled “‘The Man in Black Fled Across the Desert…and The Gunslinger Followed’: Jungian Archetypes in Stephen King’s The Dark Tower Series.” Notice, by the way, that his paper is in part about the Man in Black, a demonic figure, and he himself is dressed entirely in black.
  • Eric Anderson, who presented a paper entitled “Into the Dream Oracle: Examining the Medieval Dream Vision in Troilus and Criseyde and the Harry Potter Series.” As you might expect, he was basically applying Macrobius to both texts.
  • Rebecca Jordan, who presented a paper entitled “National Treasure: An American Grail Quest.” She's also one of my minions, and her entire family showed up to see her triumph.
I'm pretty happy with my students this semester. All their eagerness is wearing me out, but better that than apathy.

Morning Medieval Miscellany

Once again, I've let things fall behind. Let that be a lesson to me: never again agree to teach a third composition class.

While I soak in my lesson, here are a few lessons in the medieval for you:
OK, that's it. I'm too tired to do any more. Head over to A Commonplace Book, A Corner of Tenth Century Europe, Got Medieval?, Humanities Researcher, and In the Middle to see what I skipped. I'm going to bed.

*Podcasted or podcast in the past tense? Hmmm...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Kid Beowulf and the Blood-Bound Oath

The new Kid Beowulf and the Blood-Bound Oath is out and in my hands:

I'm only about half-way through it, which means I've gotten past the stuff my daughter and I read. Part of her review is blurbed on the inside cover, so as thanks, we got a complimentary, autographed copy.

Thanks, Lex! For those who want know more, here are a few video introductions.
I would also like to point out that Lex is selling Hama & Kid Beowulf resin sculpts (scroll down), that there are only 68 days left until Christmas, and that you still haven't gotten me anything. Just mentioning these three random facts.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Beowulf: The Eighties Hair Band Version

I ran into this while searching for the trailer in the previous post. Does it remind anyone else out there of the 80s TV show Beauty and the Beast? Compare this high school video ...

... with this scene from Beauty and the Beast:

OK, so Linda Hamilton is more masculine than Beowulf, and the 80s video is poorly-lit, but they've both got the erotic subtext and lots of furtive grappling.

Re-run: Beowulf & Grendel Review

We did some unexpected switch-hitting last night in at the Medieval Club, so instead of Kingdom of Heaven we watched Beowulf & Grendel.

I muttered some incoherent things as a mini-lecture before the film, but I wasn't really prepared. As penance, here's my old review of Beowulf & Grendel, and below is a trailer.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Morning Medieval Miscellany

In my never-ending effort to keep up with all the online medievalia, here are some links for you:
OK, time to got the class. Got my reader down to 71 unread entries!

Monday, October 13, 2008


Warning: Non-medieval content ahead.

I had hoped this was only a local phenomenon, but after having heard grad students (and a couple of faculty too, I'm afraid) from around the country talking this week, it appears to be nation-wide:

Hatred of Sarah Palin on the Left (and particularly the intellectual Left) has rehabilitated terms "retard" and "retarded" to describe politicians and policies negatively. I don't recall hearing the terms used in an actual session, so there do appear to be limits still on where it is considered polite conversation..

So, here's in praise of my mother, who has been a yellow dog Democrat her whole life. She caught the whole cultural zeitgeist before me when she said how disgusting the attacks on Palin's children were, and worried that the personal attacks would turn into general scorn for special needs children. I thought she was over-reacting, but I guess not. Regardless of who wins the election, it looks like the intellectual Left is poised to become long-term haters of the mentally retarded.

Fear not, though! I have a solution! All Democrats must watch The Ringer, the only Johnny Knoxville movie that isn't a crime against humanity, before making any more public pronouncements about politics. Can't we at least all agree that caring for a special-needs child is a politically-neutral act?

In order to prevent this post from becoming a platform for attacking my siblings or my parents, I'm going to do something uncharacteristic of this blog and not permit comments. Oh, yes, please refrain from using "retards" and "retarded" as terms of contempt when meeting me at future academic conferences. I don't care for it.

Morning Medieval Miscellany

I'm back from Regional Medievalisms at Macon. I'll probably have a report when my minions send me images to put on the website. Until then:
And now it's time to go to class, bringing this Miscellany to an abrupt end, with 220 unread posts in my reader.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

You Are a Geek

You are an Anglo-Saxonist geek if you understand this joke one of my minions made yesterday, and a geek on the epic scale if you laugh at it.

Looking at one of the volumes of the ASPR, she said, "Dobbie didn't work on this one; it's just Krapp."


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Learn Old English with the Wordhoard: Adjectives

Now that I've escaped from grading prison, I can finally return to you with another post.

As we move into adjectives, we'll be moving our focus from paradigm memorization to vocabulary building. At this point, you already know most of the bread-and-butter grammar of Old English; what remains are interesting little bits of the possible, like what an Anglo-Saxon poet could get away with. You can basically translate any simple declarative sentence now with a decent dictionary and your magic sheet to remind you.

Your vocabulary for next week, ACP I:

a ... always
adun(e) ... down
æfre ... ever
ær ... before
ætgædere ... together
eac ... also, besides
eall ... entirely
eft ... afterwards
fela ... much
feor ... far
forð ... forwards
for þam ... therefore
ful ... very
furðum ... even

For the grammar, read Baker chapter 8, or Drout chapters 11 and 12. I think you're going to find this stuff pretty easy -- a lot of it will seem very similar to pronouns and nouns. Even learning new paradigms will be simple!

Here's your vocabulary quiz from last time. As always, highlight the words for the answers.

god … good
hwæt … vigorous
heard … hard, fierce
milde … kind
halig … holy
sweotol … clear
eald … old
geong … young
heah … high
lang … long
strang … strong
lytel … small, little
micel … large
yfel … bad
wis … wise
motan … must, to be allowed
þurfan … to need
hatan … to command, to be called
don … to do
fremman … to do

And finally, you'll find my video commentary below. Since I'll be at a conference late in the week, this will likely be the only Old English post until next week. If you get bored, continue translating Minitext C. If you've already finished that, try finding 20 lines of poetry for recitation, and translating that as well.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Shameless Self-Promotion

I received the following letter today, which is completely real and not made up, or at least as real as the "facts" in the opening of The Da Vinci Code:

Dear Professor Awesome, PhD,

I love your blog, and read it every day, even when you don't post anything new. I have a shrine to you set up over my desk, where I meditate upon your wisdom. Still, I find it is not enough. I find myself fantasizing about your bald deliciousness, and need more, more, more! How can I get more Nokesy goodness?

Your Biggest Fan,
St. Guinefort

Guine, thank you so much for your kind and not-at-all made-up message. Some other ways you might encounter me include the regular "Quick Cuts" feature over at Cinerati, my segment on Arthurian monsters over at the Chivalry Today podcast, or even this weekend at the Regional Medievalisms Conference in Macon, Georgia.

Yes, it's true, I've been so busy this semester that I haven't traveled much, so I've been making very few non-internet public appearances. The best solution to this problem is to move to Troy and enroll in my classes -- believe me, you'll get more than enough of me that way ... just ask my students!

Morning Medieval Miscellany

Woohoo! I'm back! I'm not supposed to be out of grading jail yet, with 21 midterms left to go, two plagiarism appeals to review, and several revisions/late papers from various classes, but I've escaped regardless. There's no grading jail in the world that can hold me! I'm the John Dillinger of grading! So, while I'm on the lam, here are a few medieval items for your pleasure:
All that wasn't enough for you? Here's September's Carnivalesque!

*How did I do on the quiz? Like Ray Winstone, I am Beowulf!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Back Online!

Sorry for my disappearance, for all who were seeking me. My e-mail wasn't working right, for some reason, but it appears to be up and running again.

Sometimes non-working e-mail helps me catch up (by preventing anyone from sending me any work), and sometimes it pushes me behind (by preventing anyone from sending me responses that I need to proceed) -- This time it pushed me behind.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

More Reliable Miscellanies Ahead

Has anyone noticed how infrequent my Morning Medieval Miscellanies have become? The problem is my work computer, which has been growing more and more obsolete by the day. For whatever reason, our IT won't upgrade computers; it seems to have more of a "wring all the use out of 'em, then ditch 'em" philosophy.

The problem is that my work computer can handle three windows at a time max before becoming hopelessly slow and freezing up. It's even worse if those windows have any sort of animations running on them, or if they use something like Wordpress Snapshots (which really kills my computer). Doing the Miscellany, though, requires at least three windows open at a time: Blogger, Google Reader, and whatever page I'm referencing. Since by its very nature the Miscellany often sends me to pages I've never been to before, I sometimes don't know if clicking a link is going to make me crash. That's meant I've had to do all my Miscellanies from home, when I can wrest the computer from the other three people who use it.

Today, though, begins the new fiscal year, meaning I can request a new computer at work -- and I did so at 12:20 AM. New computer ahead! New Miscellanies ahead! New a-third-thing-I-can't-think-of-but-would-be-nice-for-balance ahead!