Old English Elegies – Creative Responses in Class

This semester I tried something new. For the past several years, I have taught “Reading the Middle Ages: the Heroic and the Chivalric” at Brock University’s Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. In past classes, the assignments have consisted of a midterm test, a term paper, and a final exam. (While this is a literature-focused class, it’s not an English class per se; similarly, it’s a course that attracts students from many disciplines, so there’s a wide range of skills, interests, and time commitments.) I wanted to offer them more chances to write, especially early in the semester, and to get more feedback going into the term paper, so I opted for a short assignment on the Old English elegies due just before our reading week break at the end of Week 6 (mid-February).

In class, we had studied the usual Big Three of the Old English elegies—The Wanderer, The Seafarer, and The Ruin—so I uploaded the six other elegies (Deor, The Husband’s Message, The Wife’s Lament, The Riming Poem, Resignation, and Wulf and Eadwacer) to our course website and asked the students to offer a response to one or two of these elegies. Responses could take the form of a more-traditional, literature-course approach, offering a critical, close reading. Others might investigate a historical aspect of Anglo-Saxon culture raised in the elegies, such as the scops’ use of harps: I imagined the possibility of a student, probably a History major (I have lots of these), investigating the design of Germanic harps. A third approach could be a transhistorical or cross-cultural analysis. (Indeed, one student produced a very interesting comparison of The Wife’s Lament and “Where I Live” by Woodkid.) All these options would take the form of a three- or four-page short essay.

But then I tried something even more radical (for me), too.

Inspired by several colleagues’ successes in various courses at their schools, I gave students the option to pursue a creative response to the Anglo-Saxon elegies. In this case, respondents were welcome to select their medium of choice (language, paint, pencil, video, RPG, song, stone, etc.). Creative responses had to be accompanied by a written component (minimum 1.5 pages) detailing the relationship of the artistic work to the elegy.

I thought perhaps a couple of students would be intrigued by this possibility, and some might even (erringly) see it as easy marks. I wasn’t really expecting to get 10 submissions—one quarter of the class enrollment—and the many different and fascinating ways that these students engaged with the poems.

I got a short story about the Husband (of ~ Message fame) and the contest he holds among his thegns to find the largest piece of driftwood on which to carve the runes he sends over the waves. Another student wrote an alliterating elegy of their own, The Lord’s Woe, which responds to and occasionally inverts, many of the poetic devices found in The Wife’s Lament. This clever piece includes some great, and very Anglo-Saxon, turns of phrase, including “Tis true that twilight turns triumph to tragedy” and the coined kenning “the violent swan mountains”.

The majority of the artistic responses were visual but these took many forms indeed. Illustrating the stages of the lamenting lord’s life in The Rhyming Poem, Murray Wilcox presented a miniature illumination bringing together many examples of Germanic symbolism.

Murray Image © Murray Wilcox

Several students created responses to the scop’s song Deor, each capturing the message of the refrain, Þæs ofereode,   þisses swa mæg (That passed over, so may this), in a different medium.

Owen Barton fashioned a clay ring with the translated inscription This Shall Pass and placed it in a small wooden gift box; this creation represented a final gift to the one-time scop from the lord of the Heodenings.

deor-ring-box-e1552954561388.jpg     © Owen Barton

 

 

Briana Bullett made a Deor sun-catcher out of stained glass. As she writes, the hourglass, like the skull and the rose, represents the transience of this world, but an hourglass can be flipped over and so a new cycle can begin anew. The choice of a sun-catcher was likewise part of her reading of the poem and response, for the passage of the sun also marks the passage of time that Deor comments on in the elegy.

Deor stained glass © Briana Bullett

Kalina Oullette also explored cycles and transience in her Deor-inspired drawing. She incorporates the symbol of the ouroboros to form the border of a clock-like circle; placing the Wyrd rune at the centre of her circle, she extended six rays from it to divide her ‘clock’ into portions representing each of the six stanzas of Deor.

Deor Ourobouros

© Kalina Oullette

Claire Dafoe crafted a painting in pieces to reflect the “friendless exile” of The Wife’s Lament.  For example, the juxtaposition of regular and jagged edges contrast the separation between the man-made world from which the Wife has been outcast and the wild forest she now inhabits. Similarly, the Wife, now a shadow of her former self, is set among the landscape of her exile but is not of it.

WL 1

© Claire Dafoe

Sydney Engel tackled the long-standing question of whether Resignation A and Resignation B form one poem in two parts or are two separate poems in a novel fashion: through cookies. She read both pieces and subsequently created a set of cookies responding to each (part of the?) poem; she then interpreted her cookie-based response as a means of inquiring how the two poetic pieces relate. The conclusion of her analysis of these cookie-based datasets was that, whether or not we are dealing with a poem in two parts or two separate poems (and we cannot know, due to the missing folios), “it is at least clear that there are two distinct speakers in Resignation.” (I would be a bad medievalist if I didn’t doff my cap to her title: “A Batch Made in Heaven.”)

Engel 1Engel 2 © Syndey Engel

Raneem Blaibel focused on the theme of darkness in Wulf and Eadwacer. She used charcoal, which, she writes, allowed her to best capture the gloomy and sombre tone of the elegy. The line that Raneem inscribes at the bottom of her piece drew her attention to the pathetic fallacy that becomes a centrepoint of her artwork, whereby she aims to capture the “mourning mind” of the speaker.

Wulf 1

© Raneem Blaibel

These creative pieces were not the only wonders that crossed my desk this February by any means. There were many excellent essays on the elegies too, including Wulf and Eadwacer as a reflection on poisoned love between just two individuals; The Husband’s Message as a “counter-elegy”; and the transformative effect of hope in Deor. What stands out most for me about the creative responses—besides the obvious beauty of the works and the inspiration they exemplify and offer—is the lesson they provide about how there are many ways to think about, and through, these complex and rewarding poems. As an instructor, this was a very productive and rewarding assignment, and I hope to have to the opportunity to do it (and similar projects) again.

 

 

 

Pearl-Poet Society @ ICMS 2019

The International Pearl-poet Society is thrilled to have a strong presence at the 2019 Congress at Kalamazoo: five sessions, plus a co-sponsored session with the International Piers Plowman Society (shout out to Noelle Phillips and Michael Johnston).

Below are listed our sessions for the coming ICMS. We’ve got a strong block of relatively back-to-back sessions (a slight break after our BUSINESS MEETING AT 12.00 on SATURDAY), from early Friday through Saturday. Many exciting topics to be covered, indeed! I’m very much looking forward to seeing familiar faces and meeting new members–it only takes a friendly nod, maybe a handshake, to join. The pentangle tattoo comes later.

Acknowledging that the website will not respect my careful positioning of tabs etc, if you care about theses things, please refer to the PDF here.

The Pearl-poet Society is looking forward to another great year at Kalamzoo. So many great discussions await!

 

Friday @ 10.00 (Session 188)

188 SCHNEIDER 1235

Is There a Class in This Text? Teaching the Pearl-Poet (A Roundtable)

Sponsor: Pearl-Poet Society

Organizer: B. S. W. Barootes, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies

Presider: B. S. W. Barootes

 

“The Pearl-Poet and Non-Conformist Religious Ideas in the First Year Seminar”

Felisa Baynes-Ross, Yale Univ.

“Playing the Manuscript: Teaching the Games of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,”

Julie Nelson Couch, Texas Tech Univ.; Kimberly K. Bell, Sam Houston State Univ.

“An Intertextual Approach to Courtliness and the Divine in Pearl,”

Amber Dunai, Texas A&M Univ.-Central Texas

“Defamiliarizing the Pearl-Poet: Rejecting Translation and Broadening the Course,”

Stephen D. Powell, Univ. of Guelph

“Teaching Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in the Context of Rhetorical and Linguistic Traditions

of the Middle Ages,” Scott D. Troyan, Univ. of Wisconsin–Madison

 

 

Friday @ 1.30 (Session 247)

SCHNEIDER 1235

Gender and Engendering in the Works of the Pearl-Poet

Sponsor: Pearl-Poet Society

Organizer: B. S. W. Barootes, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies

Presider: Kimberly Jack, Athens State Univ.

 

“Nurturing Fathers and Supportive Authorities: Reconsidering Paternal Affection in the Pearl-Poet’s

Works” Ashley E. Bartelt, Northern Illinois Univ.

“Untying and Re-Tying the ‘Endles Knot’: Retroactively Reading Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

as a Woman’s Narrative” Jonathan Juilfs, Redeemer Univ. College

“‘He Said, She Said,’” He Said: Gendered Dialogue in Pearl and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Florence Newman, Towson Univ.

“The Emotional Intelligence of Pearl: Purging the Jeweler of Gendered Irrationality”

William M. Storm, Eastern Univ.

 

 

Friday @ 3.30 (Session 322)

VALLEY 2 GARNEAU LOUNGE

Fifty Shades of Green: Hagiography and Demonology in the Pearl-Poet Corpus

Sponsor: Pearl-Poet Society

Organizer: B. S. W. Barootes, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies

Presider: Ashley E. Bartelt, Northern Illinois Univ.

 

“Confessing to Fairies” Richard Firth Green, Ohio State Univ.

“Romance in Saint Erkenwald: Blending the Pagan Past and Christian Present”

Jenna Schoen, Columbia Univ

 

 

Saturday @ 10.00 (Session 361)

SCHNEIDER 1160

Visual Rhetoric in the Works of the Pearl-Poet I: New Frontiers

Sponsor: Pearl-Poet Society

Organizer: B. S. W. Barootes, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies

Presider: Denise A. Stodola, Kettering Univ.

 

“The Green Knight without the Green: Re-Investigating the Multispectral Illustrations of MS Cotton Nero A.x art. 3”

Matthew R. Higgins, Georgia State Univ.

“Visible Thoughts: The Spontaneous Gesture and Imaging Identity in Pearl

Misho Ishikawa, Univ. of California–Los Angeles

“Peripheral Vision: Choreographing Description through Dance in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Clint Morrison Jr., Ohio State Univ.

“Crashing by Dasein: Neurorhetoric Supplying the Vision for “Being There” at the Green Chapel”
Scott Troyan (University of Wisconsin—Madison)

 

 

Saturday @ 3.30 (Session 487)

VALLEY 2 HARVEY 204

Visual Rhetoric in the Works of the Pearl-Poet II: Looking Closer

Sponsor: Pearl-Poet Society

Organizer: B. S. W. Barootes, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies

Presider: Julie Nelson Couch, Texas Tech Univ.

 

“Spaces for Seeing: Sight as a Function of Moral Space in the Works of the Pearl-Poet”

Andrew Roos Bell, Univ. of Connecticut

“Inside the Whale and Outside the Ark: Reconsidering Enclosure in Patience and Cleanness”

David K. Coley, Simon Fraser Univ.

“Visual Rhetoric and Argumentation in Pearl” Denise A. Stodola, Kettering Univ.

“Of schyr goulez: Red as Complement to Green in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Witt Womack, Univ. of Leeds

 

Co-sponsored with the International Piers Plowman Society

 

Thursday @ 3.30 (Session 134)

SCHNEIDER 1325

The Places and Spaces of Alliterative Verse

Sponsor: International Piers Plowman Society; Pearl-Poet Society

Organizer: Michael Johnston, Purdue Univ.

Presider: Ashley E. Bartelt, Northern Illinois Univ.

 

Piers Plowman and the Field of Vision”

Richard Bergen, Univ. of British Columbia

“Mountainous Couplings in Piers Plowman and Other Writings”

Matthew Boyd Goldie, Rider Univ.

“Continuity and Bifurcation: A Metrical Study of Piers Plowman and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

David O’Neil, Univ. of Southern Indiana

Et in Acadia ego

As those who’ve traipsed over to the About page may already know, this year I hold a Harrison McCain Foundation Visiting Professor Fellowship at Acadia University (Wolfville, Nova Scotia). The fellowship was established by the foundation set up in honour of the late Harrison McCain—yes, of Superfries® fame!—to foster academic and pedagogical collaboration between Acadia professors and colleagues at other institutions. As an Acadia alumnus (MA ’07), I am particularly excited to return to my former home at the Department of English & Theatre Studies to work with Professor K.S. Whetter and his students.

Our project, “Teaching Boethius via Chaucer: Exploring the Chivalric Ethos through The Knight’s Tale,” focuses on Chaucer’s attitude to Boethius as well as approaches to teaching Chaucer and Boethius in an undergraduate classroom. We use the imprisonment of the two Theban knights, Palamon and Arcite, Arcite’s mortal wound, and the concluding speeches by Theseus and Egeus as sites for interrogating how Chaucer interwove Boethian philosophical themes into chivalric romance. Chaucer, who famously translated Boethius’ Latin De consolatio philosophiae into his native Middle English, introduced these weighty topics into the Knight’s Tale, producing a much more philosophical and tragic narrative than was usual for medieval romance—romance being the literary genre most commonly associated with chivalry. Chaucer, however, takes the usual action-adventure tropes of romance and significantly modifies the genre by incorporating substantial Boethian themes into the knighthood-adventure-love formula typical of romance. This Boethian framework of the Knight’s Tale is well accepted by scholars, but more needs to be done with it, especially the ways in which Chaucer—as is his wont—mixes contradictory emotions and tropes, creating a tale which is simultaneously a tragic and philosophic love story and also a story with a happy ending. What has not thus far been acknowledged is the extent to which these contradictions themselves endorse and ignore Boethian philosophy.

I spent a little under two weeks at Acadia in mid-October and joined Prof. Whetter’s English 2163: Arthurian Literature course for a series of sessions on Chrétien de Troyes’ Knight of the Cart (Lancelot). The students had already read Yvain and so were familiar with some of Chrétien’s tropes and concerns. My first day with them consisted of a lecture on Boethius and a brief overview of the Consolation of Philosophy, including its major points such as the transience of this world, the pursuit of higher truths, and, most important for our reading that week, Fortune’s Wheel. The students had received a short excerpt of the Consolation (Book I, poem 1 to prose 4)—sort of a teaser for the whole text. I was delighted with the students’ engagement with Boethius, particularly when two of them told me after class that they felt they absolutely must read the whole thing now! (We agreed that they probably shouldn’t start until after the semester was over.) In the next three sessions Prof. Whetter and I took a team-teaching approach to discussing Chrétien’s Lancelot, and the class offered many thoughtful comments about and insights into the love of Lancelot and Guinevere, the complexities of chivalric identity and codes, and the Boethian echoes in the text. I’m looking forward to incorporating much of this discussion in my “Reading the Middle Ages: the Heroic and the Chivalric” course next semester at Brock’s Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.

Visiting Nova Scotia is always a treat, but visiting during the autumn is especially lovely. Last year when I stopped by Wolfville after the excellent Atlantic Medieval Association conference, the leaves hadn’t yet started to change. This year, only a few weeks later, I was met with splendour. Wolfville is a very lovely town—great shops, cafes, restaurants, and very friendly peoples at every turn. I can’t wait until next semester when I return for another bout of teaching (Tolkien this time) and then next summer when I spend several weeks with Prof. Whetter working on the written component of our project.

Morning Fireworks

International Pearl-poet Society ICMS 2019 Sessions

This promises to be an excellent year for the Society at the International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University. We have five very exciting panels scheduled for Kalamazoo next May. Please do keep in mind that the IPpS Business Meeting is held at 12.00 PM on the Saturday (May 11). We will elect a new Vice-President and plan our proposed sessions for the 55th ICMS in 2020.

 

Is there a class in this text? Teaching the Gawain-poet (Roundtable)

Chair: B.S.W. Barootes (Pontifical Institute of Mediæval Studies)

 

“The Pearl-poet and Non-Conformist Religious Ideas in the First Year Seminar”

Felisa Baynes-Ross (Yale University)

 

“Playing the Manuscript: Teaching the Games of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Julie Nelson Couch (Texas Tech University) & Kimberly Bell (Sam Houston State University)

 

“An Intertextual Approach to Courtliness and the Divine in Pearl

Amber Dunai (Texas A&M University—Central Texas)

 

“Defamiliarizing the Pearl-poet: Rejecting Translation and Broadening the Course”

Stephen D. Powell (University of Guelph)

 

“Teaching Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in the Context of Rhetorical and Linguistic Traditions of the Middle Ages”

Scott Troyan (University of Wisconsin—Madison)

 

Gender and Engendering in the Works of the Pearl-poet

Chair: Kimberly Jack (Athens State University)

 

“Nurturing Fathers and Supportive Authorities: Reconsidering Paternal Affection in the Pearl-poet’s Works”

Ashley E. Bartelt (Northern Illinois University)

 

“Untying and Re-tying the ‘Endles Knot’: Retroactively Reading Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as a Woman’s Narrative”

Jonathan Juilfs (Redeemer University College)

 

“‘He Said, She Said,’ He Said: Gendered Dialogue in Pearl and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”

Florence Newman (Towson University)

 

“The Emotional Intelligence of Pearl: Purging the Jeweler of his Gendered Irrationality?”

William M. Storm (Eastern University)

 

Visual Rhetoric in the Works of the Pearl-poet I: New Frontiers

Chair: Denise A. Stodola (Kettering University)

 

“The Green Knight Without the Green: Re-Investigating the Multispectral Illustrations of MS Cotton Nero A.x art. 3”

Matthew R. Higgins (Georgia State University)

 

“Visible Thoughts: The Spontaneous Gesture and Imaging Identity in the Pearl-Poems”

Misho Ishikawa (UCLA)

 

“Peripheral Vision: Choreographing Description through Dance in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Clint Morrison, Jr. (Ohio State University)

 

“Crashing by Dasein: Neurorhetoric Supplying the Vision for “Being There” at the Green Chapel”

Scott Troyan (University of Wisconsin—Madison)

 

Visual Rhetoric II: Looking Closer

Chair: Julie Nelson Couch (Texas Tech University)

 

“Spaces for Seeing: Sight as a Function of Moral Space in the Works of the Pearl-Poet”

Andrew Bell (University of Connecticut)

 

“Inside the Whale and Outside the Ark: Reconsidering Enclosure in Patience and Cleanness

David K. Coley (Simon Fraser University)

 

“Visual Rhetoric and Argumentation in Pearl

Denise A. Stodola (Kettering University)

 

Of schyr goulez: Red as Complement to Green in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Witt Womack (Independent scholar; University of Leeds)

 

Fifty Shades of Green: Hagiography and Demonology in the Pearl-poet Corpus

Chair: Ashley E. Bartelt (Northern Illinois University)

 

“Confessing to Fairies”

Richard Firth Green (Ohio State University)

 

“Romance in St. Erkenwald: Blending the Pagan Past and Christian Present”

Jenna Schoen (Columbia University)

Cleanness Cotton Nero A.x fol 56

London, British Library, MS Cotton Nero A.x (art. 3), fol. 56r

ICMS 2019: Pearl-poet Society CfP

The International Pearl-Poet Society is sponsoring five sessions at the 54th International Congress on Medieval Studies (May 9–12, 2019) at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI.

1. Is there a class in this text? Teaching the Pearl-poet (Roundtable)

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight has long been a mainstay of Brit Lit surveys and introductions to medieval literature. However, the recent anthologising of Pearl, both in the Middle English and in translation, and the rise of pedagogical interest in vernacular religious traditions such as those exemplified by Cleanness and Patience, calls for a fresh appraisal of classroom strategies for approaching these texts.

2. Visual Rhetoric in the Works of the Gawain-poet

From the description of shining, jewelled New Jerusalem to the blazons of Sir Gawain and the Pearl-maiden to the Pearl-dreamer’s inability to ‘see’ clearly, the Gawain-poet reveals himself to be a writer who depends on visual metaphors, imagery, and motifs. Seeking to renovate earlier work by Sarah Stanbury (1991, 2007), Maidie Hilmo (2001), and Tony Davenport (2008), this session will explore the ways that the poet deploys motifs of sight and seeing to shape the meaning of his texts.

3. Gender and Engendering in the Works of the Pearl-poet

Morgan le Fay, Hagar and Sarah, Lady Bertilak, the Pearl-maiden, Lot’s unnamed wife and daughters, Queen Guinevere. Shrinking Gawain, wayward Jonah, ‘beardless’ Arthur, the gentle Jeweller, the Green Knight with his half-giant chest and shoulders to match. Households hoping for heirs; kingdoms that shall never know one. The Pearl-poet presents a broad spectrum of gendered characters. This session invites participants to consider how the poet plays with tropes of gender in the Cotton Nero A.x poems and St. Erkenwald.

4. Beyond the Codex: Extraliterary Influences on the Texts of the Pearl Manuscript

The Pearl-poet was, without a doubt, widely read. But what other cultural ‘texts’ and contexts influenced his poetry? How did architecture, the liturgy, political upheaval, religious debates, economic anxiety, international affairs, and epidemic outbreak weigh on mind of the poet as he composed his works?

5. Fifty Shades of Green: Hagiography and Demonology in the Pearl-poet Corpus

Between the celestial city and the shady Green Chapel, the miracles of a London bishop and the Leviathan-underworld in the belly of a sea beast, the works of the Pearl-poet explore the full range of the divine and the infernal. The papers in this session will interrogate the poet’s use of hagiographic tropes as well as material from folk traditions as he crafts his supernatural narratives.

⊕   ⊕   ⊕   ⊕   ⊕

We invite abstracts from scholars of all levels. Papers may deal with one or all of the poems by the Pearl-poet. Paper sessions will consist of either three twenty-minute or four fifteen-minute presentations; all paper sessions will afford at least thirty minutes for discussion. As lively conversation and collaboration are key goals, the pedagogical roundtable can accommodate up to six participants presenting for seven or eight minutes, with approximately half the session reserved for discussion.

Please send your abstract (max. 300 words) and the completed Participant Information Form by

15 September 2018 to

Benjamin Barootes

bsw.barootes@utoronto.ca

Pontifical Institute of Mediæval Studies

59 Queen’s Park Crescent East

Toronto, Ontario

Canada    M5S 2C4

SGGK illustration and first page

(BL, Cotton Nero A.x fols. 94v-95r)

ICMS 2019 CfP: Provincial Aristocratic Households redux

The Provincial Aristocratic Household in Late-Medieval England

Based on the wonderful turn-out at the 2018 ICMS panel (over 20 people at a Sunday-morning session!), I have organised another iteration of the session at the 54th Congress at Kalamazoo (May 9 to 12, 2019).

⊕   ⊕   ⊕   ⊕   ⊕

This interdisciplinary panel explores the rich world of the provincial household in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Although often mocked in the cosmopolitan capital, provincial courts were sites of important social, cultural, and historical innovation and advancement: Yorkshire and the North witnessed early interest in eremitic and vernacular piety; the West Midlands and the Marches fostered the alliterative revival; and in rural Gloucestershire, Lord Berkeley’s Cornish clerk John Trevisa translated one of the great scientific texts of the age. Far from the dark and draughty halls imagined by urbane detractors, the provincial household was frequently a shining example of the wealth, learning, and worldliness found in the furthest reaches of the kingdom. This session invites papers from scholars concerned with any aspect of a particular noble household outside the metropolitan centres. Possible topics include:

  • courtly and hall entertainments
  • provincial literature and literary representations
  • devotion and prayer; the household chapel
  • book production, circulation, and collecting
  • local (gentry) affinities
  • hosting and hospitality
  • art and decoration
  • food and feasting
  • supply, management, and procurement of goods
  • building, architecture, and renovation

To offer the breadth that this expansive topic warrants, this paper session will consist of four, 15-minute papers, with 30 minutes reserved for questions and discussion.

Please send your abstract (max. 300 words) and the completed Participant Information Form by

15 September 2018 to

Benjamin Barootes

bsw.barootes@utoronto.ca

A New Boss

After two years at the Centre for Medieval Studies (U Toronto), my SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship is coming to an end. I’ve had a great time at the Centre, made some excellent new friends and colleagues, and managed to get a considerable amount of work done. (Since autumn 2016: four articles and a book chapter published, plus an encyclopedia entry.) As it happens, I also managed to make some good headway on the project that brought me to CMS, “In nomine meo: The Texts and Contexts of Oxford, Trinity College MS 8.” My research trip to the Bodleian last June (funded in part by the Society for the Study of Medieval Languages and Literature, aka Medium Ævum) opened up considerable new avenues for this investigation.

Which brings me to some news. Starting in September, I will be one of the four Mellon postdoctoral fellows at the Pontifical Institute of Mediæval Studies. My PIMS project is titled, “Devotion to the Holy Name in the West Midlands, 1375-1425: The Material Evidence.” Working with Dr. Ann Hutchison, I’ll continue my study of the Beauchamp missal (the Trinity 8 manuscript), focusing on its links to West Midlands book production and the spread of Holy Name devotion. For instance, in one part of the project, I’ll be looking at William Beauchamp’s links to his brother-in-law, Hugh, 2nd Earl Stafford, and the Lichfield region of Staffordshire, the point of origin for several prominent devotional texts from the period.

Pims door

I’m very excited to start my work at PIMS alongside my fellow Mellon, er, fellows: Andrew Dunning, Anna Peterson, and Simona Vucu. Plus I’ve got one of the easiest office moves possible–two blocks due south. (The hardest part so far has been learning a new postal code.) Another bonus of working for the Pope is that PIMS is located next to my favourite  tree in Toronto.

Pims tree