Saturday, May 20, 2006

Possible Indy Nokes Sighting

I've been invited to give three sessions at InConJunction Science Fiction & Fantasy convention on July 7th and 8th. If anyone plans to be in the Indianapolis area that weekend, I'd love to meet you at the convention.

The three sessions:

Friday (July 7), 6PM -- "The Lord of the Rings: Christ, King Arthur, and Middle Earth"

Saturday (July 8), 2PM -- "Sam’s Family Tree in The Lord of the Rings"

Saturday (July 8), 6PM -- "Real Medieval Magic, Medicine, and Religion"

Those of you who've read this page often will recognize this as part of my public outreach project.
  • The "Christ, King Arthur, Etc" paper will be an altered version of the one I gave at the Troy University Mythology Symposium, and is a sneaky attempt to get people interested in Arthuriana.
  • The "Sam's Family Tree" paper will be a popular version of a scholarly paper I gave at PCA last month (and am currently whipping into publishable shape), and a sneaky attempt to get people interested in Old English.
  • I'm not 100% sure what I'll be doing with the "Real Medieval Magic" presentation yet. I'm strongly considering talking a little about Bald's Leechbook and the Lacnunga, then walking them through the dozen metrical charms found in the Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records (translated, of course).

For those interested, the presentation part of these sessions will only be about 15-20 minutes. The rest will be discussion time during which you can ask questions or tell me that I'm wrong. I'll probably also use PowerPoint to show some facsimile images of the Leechbooks and Lacnunga, too. Don't worry -- It'll be cool, not boring.


  1. Anonymous2:44 PM

    Sounds cool to me!

    Of course I was interested in Arthur even before Tolkien. And I actually did a paper on Anglo-Saxon royal genealogies, at least partly motivated by the lineage of Rohan (not that I mentioned it at the time). I still have my own translation of the charms in ASPR in a (paper) file somewhere. So I'm an easy sell.....

    If you want to include something in the way of magic-and-medicine that would look recognizable, if not fully intelligible, to your audience, you could try one of the late Middle English charms and formulas, in addition to the Anglo-Saxon material. (Which will certainly need much more explanation!)

    It is of course all overtly Christianized, far beyond the "Nine Herbs Charm" or "Against a Stitch."

    Off-hand, I can think of Sisam's "Fourteenth Century Verse and Prose," with its Tolkien-supplied glossary to establish relevance instantly, which includes the lively "Rat's Away" ("I comawnde all the ratones that are here abowte").

    Unfortunately, that is the only example there. The Norton Critical Edition collection of "Middle English Lyrics" edited by Luria and Hoffman (in normalized spelling) includes a nice set of about ten folk-prayers / charms, some with rituals, in Section V, my favorite being the charm "For the nightemare" (#116), with its parallel in "King Lear."

    Both are currently in print (Sisam from Dover, as "A Middle English Reader and Vocabulary"), just in case anyone is actually inspired to search them out. (I always hated being told "this is interesting, too bad you can't find it easily").

  2. Yeah, there are a LOT of things I could do that might be interesting to non-specialists. I was thinking about the AnSax charms because A). It limits the number I have to deal with to twelve, and B). It's really hard for non-specialists to lay hands on that kind of material. I've also got a facsimile edition of Bald's Leechbook (BL Royal 12.D.xvii), so I might be able to get some neat-looking PowerPoint slides out of that.

    I've got time to think about it, though, so I'll probably change my mind several times before the actual event. I'm going to try to write up something that can be presented elsewhere as well, if there is a demand.

  3. Anonymous8:38 PM

    I can see the logic of "you won't have seen this before" when it comes to slides. And also of limiting the corpus.

    I was a bit more concerned about the risk of "preaching to the choir," and risking losing the rest of the "congregation" with what they might find excessivly arcane.

    I very well may be underestimating your target audience!

    I have memories of panels at early Mythcons, which found it necessary to explain that gosh, folks, European languages are mostly related to each other, not just those descended from Latin, and even to Sanskrit, and that Tolkien INTENDED Quenya and Sindarin to be related in the same way. That before getting to anything the rest of the audience wanted to hear (like comparative Elvish phonology). And of people who will insist that Shakespeare wrote in "Old English," and that is why he is very hard to hard to understand.....

  4. It's hard to tell what people are already going to know about. My guess is that they won't know much of anything linguistically (like HEL), and will have a monolithic view of the medieval world.

    My usual method in these circumstances is to define terms as I go, and try to offer a few tidbits for those who find the main subject too elementary, but it can be a hard tightrope to walk.

    Are you planning to come, Ian? If so, I'll try to bring along something extra (and a bit more difficult) for you.

  5. Anonymous11:17 AM

    Thanks, but I'll almost certainly be in Southern California at the time!

  6. Anonymous9:17 PM

    I'm not sure that this is the place for a request, but I'm wondering if you or a reader might provide a concise (20+/-) reading list of must-read MDVL literature
    (Scandinavian, Anglo-Saxon, Germanic) in good English translation editions...? It would be much appreciated.

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