Another school year begins

I started teaching a new class at a new university yesterday. For the next four months, I have the pleasure of teaching English 214: Medieval Poetry of the Fantastic at Wilfrid Laurier University’s Brantford campus. We started with the Norse creation myths and Ragnarok yesterday and we move on to Beowulf and selections from the Kalevala next. I’m very much looking forward to exploring these texts with an engaged group of students. (And cheers to them for being lively for three hours starting at 7.00 PM!)

Here is the course description:

This course invites students to explore the fantastic worlds of medieval poetry. Our reading will take us from the glaciers and volcanoes of thirteen-century Iceland to the Celtic underworld, from the glorious courts of the High Middle Ages to the dark forests of ancient Karelia, and from earthly paradises to heavenly cities. We will encounter questing knights, powerful elf queens, chanting sorcerers, and poetic dreamers. Most of the texts will be studied in modern translations from Old Norse, Middle Welsh, Old French, and Finnish, as well as Old and Middle English. One of the goals of this class is to introduce students to Middle English language. (It’s not as hard as it looks!) Beginning with an hour-long introductory session in Week Seven, we will practice reading the London dialect of Middle English in each class. By Week Twelve, students will have sufficient experience with the language to work through one of Chaucer’s early dream visions.

 

Hot off the e-presses

The article I mentioned in the last post, “Number Symbolism in Pearl: Lines 720-721,” was published online today. I am amazed at the speed and efficiency of this process. Many thanks to the editors of Studia Neophilologica and to Heather Wallace at Taylor & Francis.

You can find a link to the article on the Publications page.

A Forthcoming Article

I’m delighted to announce that my short article, “Number Symbolism in Pearl: Lines 720-721,” has been accepted at Studia Neophilologica. I’ll be sure to post the essay once it’s published; in the meantime, here is the abstract:

Concatenation is one of the hallmarks of the intricately wrought dream vision Pearl. However, in the transition from Section XII to XIII (lines 720–721), this structuring device fails. While several scholars have attempted to explain this breakdown of formal integrity, few have considered its numeric resonances. The crux at lines 720–721 can be read as an intensification of the symbolic numbers twelve and five. Drawing on biblical and patristic sources, medieval number theory, and critical discussions of Pearl’s structuring principles, I argue that the displacement of the link-word ryȝt by the name of Iesus is not a mere instance of carelessness on the part of author or scribe but a considered and carefully constructed comment on the distinction between the mundane and celestial planes.

PearlIllustration2-e1401071794626.jpg

My first thoughts on Brexit

And so the Lonely Isle stands
Amid the cold, dark sea and fog,
Proud but cut off from kindred lands:
A dead, dry branch–and soon a log.
A place that hates its helping hands,
And thinks it’s fine to call them wogs.
And yet the future’s not as bright
As Europe’s lights that shine at night.

Kalamazoo ICMS 2017 Call for Papers

I am organising a panel for the 52nd International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University (Kalamazoo, MI). The panel is loosely linked with my postdoctoral project, which, in part, deals with late-medieval English devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus.

Ihesu Dulcis: Devotion to the Holy Name in Medieval Europe

ICMS Kalamazoo 2017

In 1494, after much championing by Lady Margaret Beaufort and promulgation by the Provinces of Canterbury and York several years earlier, the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus received papal sanction. As Rob Lutton reminds us, however, these official recognitions simply granted added authority to “what had already become a widely popular devotional cult.”[1] Growing out of Cistercian tracts of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, Holy Name devotion was linked to late-medieval vernacular religious practice in Germany (Heinrich Suso), Italy (John Colombini and Bernardino of Siena), and England (Richard Rolle). In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, devotion to the Holy Name proliferated with the founding of confraternities, chantries, and altars dedicated to the Name of Jesus.[2] The cult continued until the Reformation, with some groups and practices persisting into the seventeenth century.

This session welcomes papers about any aspect of  Holy Name devotion, including (but not limited to) its foundations, its growth, and its relationship to Latin and vernacular religious and literary traditions. Topics could examine: the development of local confraternities, private or household devotion, art and architecture, Holy Name devotion and other Christocentric beliefs and practices, the relationship with Lollardy, post-Reformation afterlives, and so forth. This session aims to add to the recently reinvigorated scholarship of this fascinating, late-medieval devotional cult.[3]

Please submit 250-word abstracts, a brief bio, and the ICMS PIF to benjamin.barootes@mail.mcgill.ca by 15 September 2016.

[1] Rob Lutton, “‘Love this Name that is IHC’: Vernacular Prayers, Hymns and Lyrics to the Holy Name of Jesus in Pre-Reformation England,” in Elisabeth Salter and Helen Wicker, eds., Vernacularity in England and Wales, c. 1300-1550 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2011), 119-45, at 124.
[2] R.W. Pfaff, New Liturgical Feasts in Later Medieval England (Oxford: Clarendon, 1970), 78-79.
[3] See, for instance, Rob Lutton, “The Name of Jesus, Nicholas Love’s Mirror, and Christocentric Devotion in Late Medieval
England,” in I. Johnson and A.F. Westphall, eds., The Pseudo-Bonaventuran Lives of Christ: Exploring the Middle English Tradition (Turnhout: Brepols, 2013), 19-53; and Sebastian I. Sobecki, “Lydgate’s Kneeling Retraction: The Testament as a Literary Palinode,” Chaucer Review 49.3 (2015): 265-93.

IHS strained glass

You can also find the CfP here.

Is… [fffshhh] is this… [crackle] is this thing on?

I’m launching this site in conjunction with the start of my postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Medieval Studies. My project, “In nomine meo: The Texts and Contexts of Oxford, Trinity College MS 8,” shows how a single manuscript, the Beauchamp missal, can serve as a window onto a series of Letter Bcomplex but interrelated aspects of late-medieval society. It examines the social contexts of this manuscript’s production, use, and circulation to launch a broader investigation of how late-medieval English readers negotiated the boundary between accepted and condemned religious practices. In so doing, I hope to bring a fresh perspective to late-medieval devotional practices and the textual communities that fostered them.

The site will include occasional blog posts about my on-going research, my travels to archives and conferences, and other medieval matters. I will also use the site as a repository of my articles and essays, so keep an eye out for when I figure out how to upload those.