Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Reactions to "Michael Jackson and Saint Guinefort"

Here are a few reactions to my First Things piece, "Michael Jackson and Saint Guinefort," both positive and negative.
Everyone seems to be assuming I'm Catholic for some reason. Sorry to disappoint; I'm a Restoration Movement Christian currently attending a Presbyterian church.

Also, weirdly, the Washington Post lists my piece in the "Trench Warfare" section of their political browser. I can't quite figure it out, since the piece is not political (except in the broadest sense that man is a "political animal"), and if it's any kind of trench warfare, it's from the Right Flank of the Church, directed right back at the Right Flank of the Church.

Morning Medieval Miscellany

For your Tuesday morning:

Friday, June 26, 2009

Update Your Blogrolls!

Here are a couple of medieval blogs I'd never seen: Medieval Research with Joyce, and Medieval Bookworm.

Chivalry Today Appreciation Package

I got my Chivalry Today appreciation package yesterday! Here's what you might have missed out on:
Lots of goodies especially for kids. My son is going to love that Swords book.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Arthurian Scholarship

I received this e-mail today:
Please forward this message to any students interested in Arthurian literature and a scholarship opportunity. Mark Adderley has informed us that the scholarship below, which has been on our website for a while, has been withdrawn by his publisher 'owing to lack of interest'. He advises that we should lobby the publisher to help him understand that this was a mistake.If you are interested in writing the essay or have someone in mind who might be, please reply to this message no later than 4 July so that I can lobby on your behalf.
Leonie Viljoen

Here are the scholarship details:

Any student currently enrolled in college and studying for a liberal arts degree, or in high school and planning to study for a liberal arts degree,is eligible. Deadline for submissions: July 31, 2009.

Westbank Publishing announces the new Matter of Britain Scholarship. The award of $500-$2500 will be made in August for an essay of 1500-2000 words in length, comparing the way Merlin is presented in Mark Adderley's new novel The Hawk and the Wolf with the presentation of the same character inany of the following books:
  • Barron, T. A., The Lost Years of Merlin (Philomel, 1996)
  • Stewart, Mary, The Crystal Cave (Eos, 1971)
  • White, T. H., The Sword in the Stone (G. P. Putnam's, 1938)
  • Geoffrey of Monmouth, The History of the Kings of Britain, trans. Michael A. Faletra (Broadview, 2008)
  • Geoffrey of Monmouth, The Life of Merlin (in Faletra's translation of the History)
  • The Myrddin poems (The Romance of Merlin, ed. Peter Goodrich, Routledge, 1991)

I suspect the "lack of interest" is better described as a "lack of advertising," since I've already got a handful of students who want to apply for this. The e-mail provided the url http://www.markadderley.net/scholarship/, but the page was already gone when I checked it.

RIP Karl Heinz Göller

I had no idea Karl Heinz Göller had died. I looked for more information, but found none. Do any Wordhoarders know anything?

The date of his birth surprises me. The last time I saw him he must have been 80 already, and I'd have guessed his age closer to 60. Back then, he was hale-looking indeed, and a very gracious person.

Medievalism announces sessions being organized in his honor at the 2010 Congress.

Morning Medieval Miscellany

Today in the world of medievalism:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Morning Medieval Miscellany

On this morning:
Sorry for the lack of original posting of late -- I've been lending my limited brain power to my monograph.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Morning Medieval Miscellany

Morning is almost over, so in some time zones this will be an Early Afternoon Medieval Miscellany -- though I suppose all the Wordhoarders in Europe, Africa (which has only a few), Asia and Down Under have always had to take the word "morning" with a grain of salt.
In non-medieval news, one of my students has posted a picture of my bidet. Yes, it's genuine.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Authors Needed at Chivalry Today

Chivalry Today has asked me to note:
Chivalry Today is looking for a few good authors! The Chivalry Today Podcast is currently putting together its interview schedule for Season 4, which will begin in September 2009. If you've published, or are working on a book, paper or journal article that is in any way related to knights, Arthurian legend or the practice and ideals of chivalry in any period of history, host and producer Scott Farrell would love to hear from you and consider having you as an interview guest on the show. It's a great way to reach over 5,000 potential readers throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe, all of whom have a demonstrated interest in the topic of chivalry.Please feel free to contact show producer Scott Farrell for more information, or send a press release or review copy to the Chivalry Today studio. You can find our contact information and mailing address on our website at www.ChivalryToday.com

Morning Medieval Miscellany

For your weekend:
Also, apparently all the Twittering medievalists out there are adding themselves to TwitR.org under the hashtags #medieval, #medievalist, and #professor. I have too.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

One Last "Chivalry Today" Appreciation Package

One of my favorite podcasts is Chivalry Today. Each episode lasts about an hour, so I like to save them up for long car trips.

This season, Chivalry Today had their $10 Challenge, in which donors of $10 or more had a chance to win an appreciation package with all sorts of chivalry-oriented goodies. Donors of $100 or more got the package automatically.

The drawing was at the end of the last episode, and I wrote to Scott Farrell to ask if all the appreciation packages were gone. There is, as of this writing, ONE LEFT! So, the first person willing to donate $100 or more over the summer will get the one remaining package. It includes several books, a coffee mug, and a gift certificate for Historic Enterprises that can be used for Knight School or their products. As a satisfied Historic Enterprises customer, I'm sure you'll find some cool swag there.

Next season, Farrell will be running a contest called "The Nine Worthies of Chivalry Today." He'll ask listeners to send in suggestions of individuals they'd choose for an updated list of "nine worthies," which will be divided into three categories (just like the medieval "nine worthies"): modern, historical and fictional. (disqualifying names from the medieval list - so King Arthur and Charlemagne are right out.) He'll also be challenging listeners to send in $9, one buck per worthy.

According to Farrell, the first interview guest of the next season (on the Sept. episode) will be Prof. Jennifer R. Goodman, author of Chivalry and Exploration: 1298-1630, looking at how the legends of chivalry had a very strong influence on the Age of Exploration.

Oh, and in case you're wondering for all my shilling of Chivalry Today & Historic Enterprises -- no, I don't get a kickback.

Leeds Is Coming Up

For those not on the scholarly side of medievalism, there are two Big Shows of academic medieval studies. On this side of the Atlantic is the International Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo, Michigan.

On the other side of the Atlantic is the other essential conference, the International Medieval Congress* at Leeds. I never get to go to Leeds myself, since I can usually only afford a conference abroad once every couple of years, and then I go to the Medieval and Early Modern English Studies Association Conference in Korea to help support medievalism in Asia. I love MEMESAK, and it's certainly grown into the center of Asian medievalism, but it's a far cry from the importance of Kalamazoo & Leeds -- but maybe someday.

The Leeds Congress is coming up here next month, July 13th-16th. It features over a thousand papers on a variety of subjects and has a thematic focus. This year, the overall theme will be heresy & orthodoxy, so medieval scholars particularly interested in religion will be making the pilgrimage there.

So, if you're thinking of going, time's drawing near! Also, if you'd like to give a paper, there are actually a few slots for sessions that need a third paper, which you can find at the Late Speakers Calls page.

Me, I won't be able to make it, which is a shame -- I really want to hear Alaric Hall's paper on the early 20th-century reception of the Anglo-Saxon charms.

*The two names are so similar, it reminds me of a bit from the Life of Brian about the People's Front of Judea vs. the Judean People's Front.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Morning Medieval Miscellany

Here are some medieval offerings. A short list today, since I've caught up.

Four Years of Unlocking Wordhoards

I completely missed my anniversary yesterday -- the Wordhoard is four years old.

*sniff* They grow up so fast!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Talking Dogs

Warning: Non-Medieval Content

Can dogs talk? I used to have a dog that could say a few words (though never on command).* One of those words was "Grandma," which she only said when Grandma was around. The first time she said it, we were picking blackberries and raspberries with Grandma on the other side of the fence from her, and she couldn't get over the fence.

When she said "Grandma," everyone stopped and stared at her. We couldn't believe it, and it was unmistakeable. When she spoke, it didn't sound like her normal whine -- it sounded like she was trying to approximate human speech.

Contrary to what Stanley Coren claims, over the years it became clear that the dog knew that Grandma was the name of that person; she never uttered it inappropriately (like while begging for a treat). Of course, that's probably the limit to what a dog could say intelligently -- a name or a single-word noun. In retrospect, I'm a little surprised she never said cheese.

*When I was a kid, everyone outside our family thought it was a joke that we said one of our dogs could talk. Now, with the ubiquity of talking dogs on YouTube, I'm guessing all doubt is gone.

Most Medieval Man in the World 2

For those who were begging to here more about the adventures of Professor Awesome, PhD, the Most Medieval Man in the World, here's more information.

Did you know that among his many degrees is a PhD in Awesome Studies?

Integrating Twitter

For those who use the service, I'm going to start posting Unlocked Wordhoard updates on Twitter using #medieval.

For those who don't use Twitter and have no idea what the above means, don't worry about it; you won't notice any change whatsoever. It's just another means of announcing an update to the site.

Morning Medieval Miscellany

After yesterday's truncated Miscellany, here are a few things that were left out:
OK, that's it for now. All caught up!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Morning Medieval Miscellany

I have to head out the door in just a few minutes, but here are several items before I go:
I'm already out of time. Check back later this week for more Miscellany.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Morning Medieval Miscellany

It's still technically morning here, so let me just bump out a handful of these so I don't get too far behind.
OK, that's it, I've run out of steam. I'll pick up the remainder in the next Miscellany.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Most Medieval Man in the World

My evil twin, Professor Awesome, PhD, seems to have escaped from the Ivory Tower long enough to make this video.

Any resemblance to The Most Interesting Man in the World is probably just a crazy coincidence.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Camille Paglia on Islam

Camille Paglia writes the only thing worth reading at Salon.com, but her recent column, "Obama's Hit -- and Big Miss" was not a good example of this. It definitely had a phoned-in quality about it.

One weird sentence was of special interest to medievalists, though. She wrote:
But the now widespread stereotyping of Islam as medieval and inherently violent and intolerant ensures eternal war.*

What's the word "medieval" doing in there? In point of fact, Islam is medieval, in origin anyway. As someone particularly interested in 1st-century Christianity, I would probably be particularly interested in 7th-century Islam were I muslim. I take her meaning there to mean something like "still medieval."

Again, though, what's the word "medieval" doing there? Wouldn't the sentence "But by now the widespread stereotyping of Islam as inherently violent and intolerant ensures eternal war" communicate much the same idea? I'm assuming she's being redundant, and using the word "medieval" to mean something like "anachronistically inherently violent and intolerant," since, as we all know, the modern era has been one of inherent peace and understanding.*

If we break this sentence down, it seems that stereotyping Islam (or anything else, I suppose) as medieval (among other things) ensures eternal war. Note that she isn't saying that Islam is medieval, and therefore ensures eternal war, but that the false stereotype of Islam as medieval ensures eternal war. She seems to be saying that war eternally comes to Islam from without, a symptom of false "secular professional class" and Christian stereotypes about Islam as medieval and inherently violent and intolerant.

Now, this makes really little sense. Even if we were to give her all the camels she wants us to swallow and all the gnats she wants us to strain here, is the West really eternally at war with the medieval? I think it would be more accurate to argue that we stereotype the medieval as violent, but it isn't like the US military shells Renaissance Faires, or the SCA is branded a terrorist organization, or the police hassle scholars at medieval conferences. A certain class of person (probably her "secular professional class") uses medieval as an insult, but I've yet to have a bunch of bobos like Obama beat me up in a dark alley because I'm a medieval scholar.***

The more I look at it, I don't think she really has any idea why she threw the word "medieval" in there. Paglia probably was just looking for a third negative trait for the sentence, and settled on medieval because it sounds bad in the ears of Salon readers. A pity.

*Now that I've written this post and ruminated on this sentence, I find it appallingly ugly. Starting with "but" makes it technically a fragment, which I'm not necessarily against if it's done for good stylistic purposes, but in this case it adds nothing. The phrase "now widespread" should have a hyphen in it, only serving to emphasize that the word "now" is out of place here, and doesn't balance well with the word "eternal" later in the same sentence. The modifier "inherently" is weirdly-placed as well -- is she saying the stereotype is that Islam is stereotyped as inherently violent, but not inherently intolerant, or that it is inherently violent and intolerant, but not inherently medieval? Yuck. This reads more like an off-the-cuff blog post (like this one) than a polished article. Paglia, you're a better writer than this.
** Insert sarcastic tone here. Isn't it so delightful that we live in the Age of Aquarius?
***OK, true, bobos are probably too wimpy to actually succeed at beating me up, but I would think if you got enough of them together, they might try.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Morning Medieval Miscellany

I have absolutely nothing of interest to say about the Ren Faire. I trusted pirates, got a sunburn, and watched all types of stunts involving fire. Here, however, are some people who do have something to say:

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Morning Medieval Miscellany

Google Reader seems to be working right for me again, so here are a few posts clogging the pipes:
By the time you're reading this, I'll probably be at the Ren Faire. Perhaps I'll have some images and comments for you next time.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Origin of Eth

Gearwor has put together a recent e-mail exchange about the origins of the eth (ð) in Old English. The discussion about the distinction between eth and thorn (þ) hits on a question I am frequently asked but am never sure how to answer.

On Salamanders and Fire

While I'm having minor technical difficulties, there will be no Miscellanies, but I can direct you to the occasional post here and there. Gypsy Scholar asks whence the notion of salamanders being impervious to fire comes.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Picking a Little Nit

It just suddenly occured to me that to call it "Occam's Razor" is wrong. Since it is named for William of Occam (or Ockham), the word Occam is not a person, but a place. Just as Julian of Norwich is just called "Julian," or Hildegard of Bingham is just called "Hildegard," the shortened version of William of Occam would be William, not Occam.

If we're too lazy to call it "William of Occam's Razor," then the shortened version should be "William's Razor," rather than "Occam's Razor."

There, nit successfully picked. Since I've been writing about Benedictines today, it is only just and right that I give the Franciscans their due.

Google, Fix the Glitch!

Some sort of technical glitch with Google Reader is making it hard to do a Morning Medieval Miscellany.

Ah, yeeeeeah, Google, I'm gonna need you to, you know, fix the glitch, m'kay? Grrrreat.

Monday, June 01, 2009

TimesOnline on Beowulf

I wanted to ignore this, since it is so stupid, but e-mail is full of people upset over it. Times television critic has this to say about Beowulf and those who study it:
Most people have only read Beowulf because they were forced to under threat of being made to do manual labour for the rest of their lives, after being sent down from university. It is by convention and degree syllabus the starting block for English literature, albeit that it is written in a defunct Germanic language about a Swede who goes to Denmark. Only a few hobbity university bods can speak it, and having learnt Nordic Elvish they speak little else and share a particular accent that sounds like something from The Lord of the Rings or the Muppets. They wear odd clothes, usually involving a great deal of leather, hoodies, amulets on thongs and a lot of buckles. Beowulf should be spoken out loud — indeed, it should be bellowed, otherwise the people trying to get out of the room won’t hear it.

Now, really this is so colossally stupid I really don't know why we have to respond to it. There's no law that says you have to like Beowulf, but "a few hobbity university bods" can speak Old English? As one of the few Anglo-Saxonists I know who actually looks a little hobbity, I think I'm safe in saying that we're no more hobbity than the general population (unfortunately, to my way of thinking). And then we "speak little else?" Ummmm ... who the heck out there speaks Old English conversationally at all? Our clothes involve "a great deal of leather, hoodies, amulets on thongs and a lot of buckles?" So, basically this dude thinks that an Old English class looks just like a Ren Faire?

Folks, some things are so tremendously idiotic that it's just too tiresome to respond. Was the article supposed to be funny? I can't really tell. Ever wonder why TV is a wasteland? It's because guys like this are given the mantle of "critic" and are published.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to return to my habits of speaking Nordic Elvish while wearing my leather thong -- you know, the one with the big buckle in the front.