Friday, April 26, 2013
Thursday, April 25, 2013
It's that time of year again...
Sumer is icumen in
Lhude sing cuccu!
Groweth sed and bloweth med
and springeth the wde nu
As we celebrate the end of classes and forget the stress of moving, jobs, and final marks with yet another cold one, we're also looking back on another semester that went by too quickly! From everyone here at the UVic Medieval Studies Course Union, we want to give you all our heartfelt thanks for making this year such a success and a real pleasure; both inside the classroom and out, you helped make Medieval Studies a real gem of the University of Victoria! We hope to continue the proud MSCU tradition next year with movies, discussions, board games, colloquiums, and of course many
If anyone is interested in meeting other Medievalists at UVic over the summer, UVSS funding is available upon application for you! Send us an e-mail anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can set you up!
And, of course, post on or join our Facebook group anytime for Medieval jokes, camaraderie, puns, feedback, cool facts, and general enthusiasm!
Bunnies are icumen in!
Finally, a very fond farewell and congratulations to all of those getting hit on the head and leaving us for higher pastures this year: MSCU President Carleigh Nicholls, Vice-President Sarah White, Publicity Director Benet Davis and all of our recent graduates - we wish you the best of luck and you will be missed! As well, a massive thank-you to Dr. Marcus Milwright, who ends his term as director of the program this year and has been an invaluable help, inspiration and support to all of us!
To the rest of you; have a wonderful summer, whether it is filled with work or studies, and keep your eyes peeled for e-mails, sign-up sheets, and our AGM in the fall semester! Events will be planned, pizza shall be eaten, positions shall be opened, people shall be voted, an essay day, a red-ink day, 'ER THE PUB CLOSES!
Hope to see you all there. Until then, valete!
- the MSCU exec
Thursday, February 21, 2013
As you can tell, I'm not currently reading. I should be, but letting you all in the reading situation chez Josef seemed just that much more appealing. As it stands, I have ten articles open on my computer, 3 books on my desk, and two former essays brimming with notes and corrections. And an abstract that's been rewritten four times already over-top of itself. As you may have guessed already, I'm writing a paper for a conference. Consider this post a motivation; for myself, and for anyone else out there who can't seem to get started, or, once started, can't seem to keep going.
I have used every trick I know to avoid facing this paper head on, but oddly enough even procrastination catches up with you over time, because eventually, it IS tomorrow - and the self-set deadline is still staring you in the face, leering gleefully. It is with no small amount of frustration at myself that I recall the long hours in which I lead my happy virtual men to bloody virtual victories, which sadly enough don't really have much to add to my research into inter-religious relations in Medieval Iberia.
Or do they? If I've discovered anything over my university career, it's that ideas come to you at surprising times and at unexpected place. Often, it feels to me like essays are just lying somewhere, waiting patiently to be written when, and only when, their time comes. I'm the impatient one, trying to drag it out from some hole deep in the recesses of my mind out into the open, kicking and screaming. Call me a wordsmith, beating and hammering reluctant ideas and pouting paragraphs into their proper format, clapping it shut with the locks of introduction and conclusion, adding the finishing touches... and then, if the customer doesn't like it, it's goes back into the fire to be hammered out again. Sometimes, writing a paper feels less like art and more like an equation, a structure, a scientific review. I worry that I might cage ideas in iron sentences too early in my haste to finish.
In those moments of doubt, or dread of the long, hard hours ahead, it's temptingly easy to turn away and put down the hammer, caught in indecision. Why be bold and swift and dedicated when one might make a mistake, or introduce a flaw, or forge some unholy union of ideas that looks good at four in the morning, but like Frankenstein stumbles off into the horrifying pages of academic legend? Or worse, in the damning pages of a professor's "funny student papers" collection! Most of all, why write a paper if most of it feels like drudgery or iron-work than art? Amidst this mess of anxiety, a virtual war, however bloody, seem vastly preferable.
But I found something, halfway through my third war of the day, leading the valiant forces of the Netherlands in their quest for politically incorrect Imperialism. I started thinking about what a war was, and what made a people a nation. I thought about religion, and how it both unified and divided communities; even those which espoused the same creed! And then... horror of horrors, I was back to thinking about my essay. That night I quickly penned out the structure to a paper, and it felt, well, natural. An idea had found its time, like Turgon of Gondolin, unexpected and unasked for, but welcome nonetheless.
So this is my academic resolution, in four parts:
that I shall fear not the long all-nighter, nor the ink of the red pen, nor the professor's wrath, and that I shall place all of these behind me in scorn;
that I shall write strong and clear words that ring true now, though they must change in the future, be that weeks or only two sentences away;
that I shall open myself to new ideas and make spaces for them to arrive in my life, no matter where or when they arise;
and finally, that I shall forgive myself for work undone and time misspent, and focus instead on the task ahead, though it be long and arduous.
Work nimbly, you smiths, and may you all see art and beauty in your sentences, and banish forever the thought of dull iron. Look for the ideas that seem to spring naturally - in them lies the spark of genius!
A happy and productive reading week to you all!
(...and seriously, stop procrastinating - tomorrow is now! ... so, another round of Facebook, then?)
Monday, February 11, 2013
We hope that you've recovered from your excellent, "Medieval," themed weekend! The pub crawl was a ton of fun and the conference was very informative.
We will be hosting a Games Night, tomorrow, February 12th at 5:30 in Clearihue C108.
Bring along you favourite "Medieval" themed games like Munchkin, and Carcassonne etc., or feel free to bring any fun group game like Apples to Apples.
Snacks and beverages will be provided!
Additionally, the Conference's keynote speaker, Dr. Rosser-Owen, will be holding a lecture tomorrow at 4:30 in DSB C128 entitled, "An Historical Museum of Ornament: Architectural Plaster Casts from Granada and Cairo in the South Kensington Museum."
Friday, February 8, 2013
|The journey begins tonight!|
Monday, January 28, 2013
Monday, January 14, 2013
Thursday, January 10, 2013
...drinking? If you look to the side, right about.... --->
there, you will see our favourite monk taking some quite unauthourized libations from the monastery cellar. Likewise, we Medievalists take drink deeply from the fountains of wisdom that spring from the metaphorical cask of knowledge, and sate our thirst for understanding on the foam of... um, beer. As it turns out, Medievalists have a reputation for drinking at academic conferences in quantity unmatched by any except engineering graduate students; only with a slightly smaller alcohol tolerance, as this post attests to.
In related news, the ever-almost-victorious UVic MSCU Felicita's Quiz Team is thinking of reuniting for another Tuesday night of mead-ing and greeting, champion quizzing, and drinking! We'll keep you posted; in the meantime, hit up our Facebook page for conversation, updates, and casual get-togethers with people who will be very, very interested in both drinking and your essay on ploughmen in 13th century French texts. (really! We love ploughmen, and ploughing!)
...(We also love alcohol, especially when it looks like this:)
Also, The MSCU may have neglected to inform you of an important date in the past, and shall write this wrong now: March 31 is International Hug a Medievalist day - and planning for this landmark date in our academic calendar has already begun. Currently, plans consist of hugging, eating, and... resisting drinking due to exams. Or drinking because of them!
Besides the obvious attraction of the holy waters, we have many events planned this semester from potlucks to movie nights; and a pub crawl tentatively planned for 8th in conjunction with our thuggish friends from History! Watch this space for more info.
In history today: 49 BC Caesar crosses the Rubicon, thus igniting civil war in the Roman Empire. May your week be as exciting, divisive, challenging, and slightly less bloody!
All the best,
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
As celebration of the end of semester, the MSCU will be meeting up at the Grad Lounge this Friday, November 30th, at 4:00 pm for drinks and appetizers.
Join us to take a break from essay writing and studying!
See you all Friday!
Sunday, October 28, 2012
The MSCU will be hosting a free pumpkin carving event to get into the Halloween spirit.
Join us this Tuesday, October 30th at 3:30 pm in David Strong Building C108.
We will provide the pumpkins but please bring your own carving tools!!!
Feel free to invite your friends, but IF possible, please RSVP to our Facebook event so we can make sure to buy enough pumpkins.
RSVP here: https://www.facebook.com/
Additionally, we will be finishing Season 1 of "Game of Thrones" by watching episodes 9 and 10.
If you prefer to just come for the show, we will begin screening the episodes around 5:00 in the same room as above.
Likewise, if you just want to come for pumpkin carving, leave whenever!
Thursday, October 25, 2012
Via the British Museum:
This major exhibition will run until 25 November, don’t miss out:
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Friday, October 19, 2012
Today's post is a going to start out somewhere quite different in subject than the Middle Ages, at first glance: the website for Humans of New York. For those of you who are not familiar with it, as I was before today, Brandon, the photographer-blogger of the site, has committed to taking the photos and recording the stories of complete strangers he meets on the streets of New York. It's been getting a lot of traffic recently, especially because of a post made regarding positive body images. There's no summarizing the brilliance of it, so I'll simply provide a link. Go. Look and think.
And if you haven't already, cast your net a little wider on that website, and think about what it says about humanity, kindness, cruelty, and the society we live in. I found I was convinced, as the photographer was, that streets of New York are a window onto exclusion, marginalization, loneliness, and poverty even in plain sight, in the midst of crowds, of North America's most important city. I found the portraits almost painful to read sometimes, but there was also a happiness, joy, wit, wisdom, and courage to be found in surprising places. It left me with a renewed appreciation for the paradoxical nature of our lives today, that such happiness and sadness can exist right next to one another, at the same time.
What struck me the most was the sense of loneliness in many of the stories; not only the homeless, or the buskers, but wealthier businessmen, working people, young and old. It's a loneliness that isn't momentary; and often, it isn't visible from a casual glance. Which got me thinking: how many of the people around us, here in Victoria, feel the same way? And that, as many things often do, ended in me thinking about Medieval society, which inspired me to write this post.
Were people lonely in the Middle Ages? I suppose we can assume they were; but until the 11th century, even cities of over ten thousand people in Latin Christendom could be counted easily on your hands. The popular image is of halls of full of feasting, boasting warriors, welcomed by the generous king and courageous in their loyalty. When reading a text such as Beowulf, however, it's clear that this was not always the case. Even in a story which exemplifies this ideal relationship and community we can also see a response to suffering, especially loneliness. Just one example, from Liuzza's standard-at-UVic-until-last-year 2000 translation, page 86, lines 1071-1076:
Identity changes. Community changes, social structures become more specialized. On the fringes, of course, the scale of villages, the complexity of communities and technologies remained often relatively limited. Even to the present day, communities in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland remained deeply isolated, such as that in St. Kilda: (more info here)
The Church, kingdoms, universities, towns, and guilds all begin to centralize power and undergo fundamental (or continue to undergo!) reforms. By the 13th century, the Middle Ages that we looked at in Monday's post, that of Beowulf and Anglo-Saxon Europe, have lost some features, altered some others, and gained a host of new institutions. We're in the "high" Middle Ages, the time of knights, and roses, and ladies; landholders and feudal relationships (if you're living in the Loire river valley in the 13th century, you might even be experiencing "Classical feudalism", though if Dr. Haskett ever caught me using that word outside of a jest, I'm certain he would follow through on his threat of anathema).
And even though one could argue that society is even more greatly socially stratified in the High Middle Ages than in the Early, at least some people seem to have so many more "options"; in trades, in universities, in guilds... after all, is the Renaissance not based in a flourishing of artisan culture and prestige, and Venice's early success on a highly socially mobile society? Well, more recent scholarly work paints a more complex vision of these societies; ones that on the surface seem to display social mobility and meritocracy, but that are bound by visible and invisible signs of class and place that seem alien to the smaller-scale relationships of Beowulf.
Next time this topic comes around, we'll continue to think about inclusion and exclusion in high Medieval society, but for the moment, here's a thought: if, even in the relatively larger scale, complex, and increasingly specialized society of the high Middle Ages, we discover the same senses of exclusion, isolation, and alienation inside or on the outskirts of very tight-knit and local communities, what does that imply for a city on the scale of, say, New York?
Victoria has crime rates and a homeless population well above the national average. What does that say about our communities here in B.C. in the year 2012, a thousand years after urbanization begins to gain ground again in Europe? What do works such as Beowulf or Le Morte d'Arthur tell us about how far we are today from the world they describe -- if at all?
** Remember to come out to the MOVIE NIGHT on Tuesday from 5-7, for more game of Thrones madness! Also, if anyone is game for reviving the
Monday, October 15, 2012
For those of us with aging laptops that dislike Youtube and/or who are excited in a perhaps more than healthy way by hyperlinks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y13cES7MMd8
Also, those of us who may appreciate cute Arthurian references will enjoy this:
And those of us who miss the hipsters not present in the Beowulf above will find solace in this LOTR parody.
Now! By way of introduction to the second half, the MSCU's job is to build the community of medieval-ist/-tending students here at UVic, build links with faculty, other departments, and cool events on campus, as well as connecting our study here at UVic with all the cool stuff happening out there! So, we want to hear from you - and it can be on this blog! If you're interested in sharing your view of the Middle Ages through Viking longships, Carolingian court politics, papal opulence, Late Antique marginalia, medieval underwear, whatever! let us know, and we'll give you a place to publish. It's a chance to share your perspective on academia with the whole wide internet! (which apparently reads our blog by the way, if Google statistics are to be trusted, so I'm not just saying that! Maybe blogger has been taking a page from Medieval war chroniclers...)
For our part, we'll do our best to keep up a steady stream of academic and healthily not-so-academic resources to make your understanding of the Middle Ages that much more bizarre!
For those of you not yet fans of our Facebook group, you can sign up here!
Remember that Game of Thrones continues on Tuesday 5-7 in CLE A311 at UVic, with episodes 5 & 6. Someone will be there a little early, so feel free to come even if you missed the last one - we can give you the run-down synopsis! What's that? Someone already has, you say?
Keep it medieval, people.
Monday, October 8, 2012
Friday, September 28, 2012
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Just letting you know that our Annual General Meeting will be this Wednesday, September 19th at 4:30 pm in Clearihue C109.
We will be electing executive positions as well as brainstorming events for the upcoming year.
Also, if you haven't done so already, please join our Facebook group here:
We hope to see you all there!
Thursday, September 13, 2012
This story has a Canadian connection. The DNA of the skeleton will be compared to a Canadian man, Michael Ibsen, who is a direct descendent of Richard's sister, Anne of York.
Thursday, August 30, 2012
In the meantime, here's an interesting story.
An English family from Plymouth, Devon recently discovered that their living room was on top of a sixteenth-century well. The well measures approximately 30 inches wide, and goes 17 feet underground. A sword was also found within the well.
Imagine that in your living room?
|Photo courtesy of the NY Daily News.|
For more info, check out the story here:
Also, please comment if you have any ideas for new events.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Good morning, friends.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
I have a great prof for my Medieval Europe class this semester: he links us to pictures and interactive websites and asks us to write about them, which is fantastic homework. Anyway, I tell you this because I found a bunch of stuff on one of the websites.
Rams are sacrificial animals, they're always popping up in religious texts and dying. Is that all there is to it? They die, like Baldr? NO, they also get drilled. I’m going to drop a knowledge bomb here... Pliny the Elder said: “the wildness of rams can be curbed by drilling a hole in the horn near the ear”. Wait. What? I think a lot of behaviours can be cured by drilling a hole in something’s head. Who worked this out? Maybe it was an accident the first time and the ram "fell" on a branch or very sharp rock and insta-lobotomized himself. And some shepherd just happened to be there. Or maybe humpty dumpty was pushed.
The rambunctious nature of rams means that they are associated with toughness and virility. Sheep, on the other hand, are obedient and meek. And stupid. [Apparently not, click here] Interesting gender divide there, with sheep/ram as symbols or behaviour guides. And by interesting I mean it totally fits in with almost everything we've ever read about gender dichotomy in Europe past and present.
Medieval bestiaries are good sources of fun, nerd style. This image is from "Book of the Properties of Things" by Bartholomew. What kind of a title is that? It's the title of a damned encyclopedia, that's what! Thanks to Arabic knowledge and their awesome preservation of ancient texts, Europe was down with science by 1416, when this manuscript was completed.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
The Medieval Club here on campus is having a FREE Coptic Book Binding bonanza tomorrow (Wednesday 28th) at 6pm; Cornett B107.
-pair of scissors
-embroidery floss or similar string you want to use as binding
-yarn or embroidery needle
-old binder with cardboard covers that you don't want any more
-pretty paper or fabric to make covers out of. 6" x 16" would be about the right amount.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Join us Wednesday, March 16th!
Pizza and beverages will be provided.
In honour of that, here are some brief facts about the real Book of Kells. It is an illuminated manuscript in Latin and contains the four Gospels of the New Testament with other various religious texts included. It was created circa 800 CE or earlier by Celtic monks and resided at the Abbey of Kells in Ireland which is where it got its name from. It is highly decorated and ornate with Christian symbols and images mixed with Celtic knots and interlace which displays the merging of the two cultures.
We hope to see you all on Wednesday evening!
Monday, February 7, 2011
The Medieval Studies Course Union Executive for 2011 will be taking turns posting on our lovely blog. Today, I wish to share with you a couple pictures of the Medieval castles I visited while in Denmark in the fall of 2010.
Also, it is my duty to inform you of the MSCU's first Discussion/Games night of the year, which will take place this Wednesday, February 9th at 6pm in CLE A311. The topic of discussion will be Medieval Pilgrimages, but we will expand on this topic as we see fit and according to how the discussion flows etc. After our discussion we will play games, yay! If you have a chess set or backgammon, please do bring them, or any other board game you would fancy to play. There will be lots of snacks and friendly people to converse with, so come on out on Wednesday!
The picture above is of Fredericksborg Slot in Hillerød, a lovely area just outside of Copenhagen in Denmark. Technically this is a Renaissance castle, as it was built in the early seventeenth century; however, this castle was originally a hunting-lodge (which is situated right on the lake in Hillerød) which was bought by King Frederick II in the sixteenth century. His son, Christian IV, the most well-known king of Denmark, decided to re-build the lodge and make what you see now- a magnificent royal residence. Although used as a summer residence, I found that it was quite enjoyable in the winter, with skating and tobogganing around the lake. (Yes, despite having an extremely flat landscape, the Danish do toboggan!)
Ever wanted to see the castle where Shakespeare's Hamlet took place? Look, now you have! Shakespeare's Hamlet was allegedly partly-based upon Amleth, a figure from Danish folklore. Shakespeare, hearing of Kronborg Castle from abroad, which yes, often is covered in misty fog from the ocean, decided to use this castle as his inspiration. Kronborg Slot was used as a defensive fortress, as it is located directly on the Sound between Denmark and Sweden. Sweden is so close that you can see quite clearly the downtown buildings of Helsingborg, which is directly across from the castle.
Til next post
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Monday, January 25, 2010
The first man married a woman from Houston ,Texas. He told her that she was to do the dishes and house cleaning... It took a couple of days, but on the third day, he came home to see a clean house and dishes washed and put away.
The third man married a girl from CANADA. He ordered her to keep the house cleaned, dishes washed, lawn mowed, laundry washed, and hot meals on the table for every meal. He said the first day he didn't see anything, the second day he didn't see anything but by the third day, some of the swelling had gone down and he could see a little out of his left eye, and his arm was healed enough that he could fix himself a sandwich and load the dishwasher. He still has some difficulty when he pees."
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Monday, January 4, 2010
Sunday, November 29, 2009
So, I don't have a story for you tonight, so here's some pictures of stormtroopers to carry you over for the moment. Enjoy.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
The Pope leans towards Mr. Campbell and said, "Do you know that with one little movement of my hand I can make every person in this crowd go wild with joy? This joy will not be a momentary display, like those believers in your 2010 Olympics, but go deep into their hearts and they'll forever speak of this day and rejoice!"
Campbell replied, "I seriously doubt that. With one little wave of your hand? Show me"
So the Pope backhanded him.