Friday, August 05, 2011

Writing Group, Week 10

Hi all --

the writing post is HERE!!!! AT MY NEW BLOG!!!

Ok, this just pisses me right off

So I went to Wordpress to start a new Blogenspiel.

Some [epithets deleted] stole my name.


I very much doubt it was the result of independent thought, and the address is blogenspiel, but the name of the blog is something else. Most annoying? It hasn't been updated in two years.


Nice way to get traffic, though.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

thinking about moving

So hi there, everybody. Because I am not happy with how Google keeps merging my identities, I am going to have to do one of two things, I think. Either I try to get a gmail account as ADM that is separate from my RL ID, or I move the blog to Wordpress (I think WP will let me have two different IDs for the same email, but if not, I'll just have to check two email accounts more regularly).

so if you have advice on importing a blogspot archive, please let me know. I will be pondering this.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

What we say counts

You know, I started writing this post, in part as a response to a couple of my senior male colleagues who have been showing their asses on the internet so much lately that they might as well wear kilts. And you know? I can't be arsed.

It makes no sense to try to prove that there is no Unified Muslim Plan for total Jihad by Migration. It also makes no sense to try to prove that Muslims *don't* want others to convert.


converting the unbeliever is also part of the Christian mission. Christians are still flocking all over the world to barely industrialized countries and trying to convert the natives. Why is going into a country as missionaries, not planning on settling permanently, and making new Christians NOT jihad, but Muslims who move to new countries, taking their families and settling down and joining a new society MUST be waging jihad?

Jon Dresner offers a possible answer, and it has to do with colonialism and imperialism and how they affect the imperialists

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Reboots, sf, and history

In response to my last post, which was in part on the latest version of Captain America, Bellebonnesage pointed out that Marvel had played a part in the Civil Rights movement, and in fact, The Howling Commandos were always an interracial unit. Even while watching the film, I did think about the Dirty Dozen, which had a less savory plot device for bringing Jim Brown into the film. I think this is specifically where the current reboot lets us down: there is no explanation. In fact, I think this is one of the joys and problems of reboots in general. Reboots are deliberate erasures of story lines and attempts to take a story along a different timeline in the way that sf has played with for years.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I liked the Star Trek reboot, despite having been a fairly serious Trekkie in my much younger days (Yes, there was a time when I could probably have told you the name of an episode based on a couple of hints, but not the episode number!). The reason why the reboot worked for me was that I was able to assume multiple parallel universes in which things play out differently. Also, I think it needs pointing out that, although the original Star Trek is part of my history, it is set in the future. It's not actually history, and very little of it takes place in our historical past. "City on the Edge of Forever" may play with the time paradox and the effects of one slight alteration, but it's always a 'what if' sort of episode. It's also, incidentally, interesting in that it reinforces the idea of Big Events and stuff that doesn't matter. If Kirk and McCoy save Edith Keeler, Hitler wins: see how one intervention in the timeline can have huge ripple effects? But what about the guy who sees Spock's ears? How does that affect him, and his family? Still, the big picture is clear: we shouldn't alter the past.

One might argue that the current Avengers movies are much like the Star Trek reboot. They are fantastic, they are pop culture, and they are clearly not history. This is one of the reasons that casting Idris Elba as Heimdall worked just fine for me -- the Marvel Aesir aren't gods, they're just guys with better technology who got treated like gods. Not that some people could figure that out. But it is because some people can't figure it out that I think Captain America's producers goofed.

Captain America is a superhero. He's sf -- after all, super-strength imparted through an experimental serum and Stark technology? But he's also set in the historical past. Obviously, not entirely historical, because the Hydra is totally Marvel, and even there, this is a reboot of the organization.* But yes, our past, and our historical past. The Second World War is, with the Civil War, one of the few historical events/periods that modern US audiences (and given what I've seen of the UK A-Level exams, UK audiences) can get a grip on, in the sense that they know something about it. But what they know is often wrong. What they know is often misinformed, and leaves out things like Japanese internment camps, or segregation. So when an audience that doesn't know the history of the comic, or the comic's place in history -- and I think most people who see the films won't, because the numbers of people who learn about comic book characters via tv series and films as opposed to actual comic books (and they'd have to go digging backwards to get all of the original story line, which is only available via huge reprint volumes that cost a fortune) -- when they don't know, they are not likely to think about it. A couple of lines of exposition introducing the Howling Commandos could have made a big difference. In leaving out those lines, the reboot cut itself off from an important part of its own history, and rewrote ours.

*Also, despite the coolness of the Hydra logo, it's not a hydra, it's a skull-headed octopus! Hydra, people, NINE heads. If a villain is going to tell us that two heads grow back where you cut off one, then perhaps there should be multiple heads?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Is Captain America Supposed to Make Scared White Men Less Scared?

[There are small spoilers.]

One of the things I've done since Leeds is catch up a little with friends I haven't seen for a month or more. So the other day, a few of us went to see Captain America. As a superhero film, I have to say, it was one of the better ones I've seen -- at least for a Marvel-based film. It was exciting, the script and acting were really good, the casting was great... and it was surprisingly not jingoistic. I think it escaped it by being mostly set during the Second World War, and by having a villain who was a breakaway from Hitler's special arcane & tech forces unit. I loved the odd sort of nostalgia, and the way that Captain America was clearly part of the war effort, but in a 'real guy embodying an emblem' sort of way.

There were really weird moments, though. Weird because, while the evocations of the period often felt real (inasmuch as comics can evoke historical feelings), there was just stuff that was wrong. Once Cap is in Europe, united with the 107th, he's got a multicultural band of brothers. I realize that there are lots of things in the film that aren't real, duh -- secret powers of the Aesir? References to Raiders of the Lost Ark? But when I saw the African-American GI, my initial thought was, "but aren't you supposed to be in a segregated unit? or a cook?" And when the Asian (presumably Japanese) guy says,"Hey, I'm from Fresno!" How could I not think, "Dude, then you'd be in Manzanar or the 442nd!" Better writers on race in America have already commented on this, and how it helps to erase the Civil Rights Movement, so I'm not going there. Yet?

Then last night, I was watching Luther, a BBC crime drama with the amazing Idris Elba. It's good, gritty, and dark. And one of the episodes I watched concerned a white guy who may or may not have been racially motivated. There was a scene where the killer, a skinny white man who was clearly into RPG stuff, went into a shop run by a South Asian man. He blatantly stuffed his bag from the shelves, watching the shopkeeper watch him and do nothing. And it made me think of all the astoundingly offensive and insane commentary surrounding Breivik, the mass murderer in Norway (short roundup here, because I will not link to assholes at Fox), whose ideas of jihad-by-migration have also been defended (although not linked to Breivik there at all) on an academic listserv I read and in fact more directly on that scholar's own blog. No, I'm not linking there, either. This came at a time where yet again, a bunch of misogynist comments were made, and then dismissed by senior male scholars when women complained about them.

The one thing that comes to mind over and over again is how scared and threatened a very large segment of the population must be. Where does this phenomenon of the scared white guy come from? Because that's what it is, isn't it? Beck, O'Reilly, Limbaugh, and all the people who buy into their fear and hatred, and want to channel it back into attacking women and people of other races (and I don't really believe Islamophobia is as much about religion as it is about race -- Sharia law supports a lot of the sorts of positions Michelle Bachman does, after all...) -- how does that work? How is it that, when we look at who truly has power in Western society, we can see that it's mostly plutocratic power, and those who hold it are primarily white and primarily male. Actually, that should be reversed. Male and white. Male is still the biggest conveyer of privilege. In the West, white and straight and Christian are also up there. And yes, there are going to be trade-offs, and within certain communities, the balance will be different. A senior colleague and friend pointed out to me that one of the people who irritates me most on the list serv because he seems so entirely unable to recognize his male privilege, or even his academic privilege, probably can't see it that way because his self-perception is based on being a Jew and being held back by those with white privilege.

But back to the fear: why is it that we live in a world where there is a perception that power is a zero-sum game, and if it is shared, i.e., if we actually live in a world where people of color, people of other religions, people with other sexualities -- and, by the way, women -- share in the running of that world, it means something bad for white guys who think of themselves as Christian? And why is it that the people who fear (because I think we need to include the partners and families of these scared white men -- there are lots of women in the Tea Party, after all) cannot see that they have far more in common with the rest of us folks who live from paycheck to paycheck in multicultural land than they do with the people running things and asking us to pay the bills?

I expect in some ways it all comes down to entitlement, and not the good sort provided by the NHS, or Social Security. If you're used to privilege, and that privilege seems threatened, then all you have to fall back on is a feeling of entitlement. And if power is not a zero-sum game, then privilege kind of is. At least, once privilege -- something that is grounded only by means of historically having power without thinking about where it comes from -- is challenged, then people have to compete for the same jobs, places at university, etc. In fact, a level playing field doesn't feel all that level when it means you don't have the up-hill advantage. When you've never had to share, even giving away a small portion can feel like a huge loss. Being accustomed to privilege, especially the unrecognized kind, leads to feelings of entitlement that don't hold water for me. And I guess entitlement means not having to be scared, or think about one's own responsibilities to others. So a world in which a token African-American or Nisei soldier helps to show that, hey, we've always got along together just fine is a world that says, "see? you don't have to think about reality or question your privilege." It's a world where you don't have to be scared white men.

Of course, lots of us already live in a world where you don't have to be scared white men. It's full of interesting people with different ideas about life and nature and how the world works, and conversations that include bits of different languages, and really, a lot better food. And you know? the doors aren't always wide open, because sometimes assholes with guns show up. But if you are willing to live here with the rest of us, it's a pretty nice place.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

This year, I remembered my bloggiversary: Blogenspiel is NINE!

Yep, it's nine years old.

Ok, really it's a little less, since I didn't start blogging in earnest for a couple of months, but still, NINE!

A lot has changed, a lot has stayed the same. I have gone from being a married person who had stopped working in academia and trying to get back in to a divorced person with a fairly secure (I think) academic position on the other side of the country and a house of my own. I met someone and fell in love, and that didn't work out so well, and the breakup (even though it turns out neither of us have completely moved on, but there is no possible 'back together', either) just about broke me. Didn't blog much about that one, though. Went through another year I didn't blog much about, last year, because once I'd recovered from the personal crisis, I landed in a professional one that is still trying to break me. I am torn between 80% of being in a job in a place I love, where I want to be, and 20% of Giant Black Hole of Dread when I think about actually going in to work, because they don't give you a kevlar vest with quasi-tenure. This year's goal is to reduce the 20% and, more importantly, not to allow it to ruin the 80% or the steps forward I've been making in writing and teaching cool new stuff.

That, and I need to get in better shape and pay off some bills :-)

Other things that have changed:

I've kept a lot of my old blogfriends, and they have become RL friends as well. But some, like New Kid, have changed careers. I've made new friends through blogging, and those friends have been as instrumental as the old ones in helping me see myself as a competent person who actually has a place at the academic table. The only disadvantage is that, as I manage to be a better scholar, I seem to have less time to read blogs, and feel I've lost touch with some of you, and that makes me sad. With any luck, the getting in better shape will also mean more energy to arrange my days better and to faff a bit less. I know that I want to write more on the blog in the coming year, because it really does keep me in practice.

Things that have not changed:

I am still horrified by some of my colleagues and their attitudes towards academia, their inability to recognize their privilege, and sometimes their completely insane hate-mongering.

I am still horrified by the governments of the US and UK, and their attitudes towards higher ed, the thrall in which corporate interests hold them, and the new ways they find to sell us out every day.

I still detest everything Murdoch and, although I do not wish it, I would not weep if I heard that Palin, Bachman, Cantor, Beck, Limbaugh, Buchanan, and others of that ilk were killed by buses, polar bears, or (and this would be a sort of justice) a failure of the infrastructure they have worked so hard to destroy.

I also have no great love for the centrists of the supposed left, and in some ways think they are worse.

I will still be blogging about academic life things, even if talking about my own is too difficult at the moment -- and this is also because of a change that has occurred, i.e., I'm far more pseudonymous than anonymous these days, and I don't want people trying to figure out which RL people I may or may not be talking about.

So... in the next few days, I hope to be posting about strategies for keeping up with scholarly stuff while dealing with a heavy teaching and service load; William Pannapacker's latest iteration of what's wrong with higher ed; a long overdue review of a slightly erotic novella written by a colleague and other medievalist; faculty buy-in... and some stuff I can't remember because it's hot here in Dabbaville, and I can't sleep in the hot.

In the meantime, here is a picture from my summer:

Friday, July 22, 2011

Writing group Check-in week 8

Well, I did get my paper done, and then took a few days off to visit with an old friend who lives on the other side of the Pennines from Leeds. Then home yesterday to a pile of admin stuff. So OBE has hit again -- that and not counting on things like travel and forgetting that I owed my dean a pile of work. So that needs doing Saturday, and the paper will have to get sent on Saturday. Then I will be taking stock of what needs doing before classes start again. The long-term goal for me has stayed relatively the same: I've finished two conference papers, and am trying to get drafts sent to a journal and a volume editor by the end of August. But in the meantime, there is definitely some shuffling going on, and I will absolutely need to take a few days off somewhere, just to sleep.

In the meantime, I'll be adding some more thoughts on recalibrating in ways that don't mean dropping things entirely. That and why I set goals that don't include any time to spare or time to spend resting. In the meantime, I am wondering -- What are people's teaching loads, and how much time do you spend on research during the academic year? I ask because I think I overload myself because of the fear that I only have the summer to get things done, and that's probably why I don't plan any holiday time. Ever.

This week's goals:

ABDMama [Draft of an article MS]: begin cutting, 1,000 words this week
ADM [conference paper for Leeds; revision of paper after]: Get paper submitted to MFF
Cly [revise article for publication & draft chapter for book]: Finish revisions
Dame Eleanor [Revising a conference paper into article MS]: Keep expanding; including actual words on the page (NPhD: got a word count in mind?)
Digger [drafts of two book chapters]: Finish Mash chapter – for real!
Dr. Koshary [work on book MS]: Excused absence: moving this week
Eileen [First draft of a dissertation chapter]: finish current section & map out final section
Erika [Review-ready draft of an article MS]: edit 1 page/ day, write 500 words on conf. paper or freewrite 500 words on second article
Firstmute [chapter draft; send out article]: get back to chapter draft, with a daily writing goal of 3 hours a day
Frog Princess [rewrite Chapter 3; get another draft of the introduction]: make a plan for the remainder of the summer; start dealing with chapter 3, and go through the papers of a subject held at the university library for relevant information
Gillian [an article that needs writing]: planned incommunicado for another week
Godiva [First draft of diss. chap.]: write 500 words/day & basic outline of whole chapter
Jeff [Review-ready draft of completed dissertation]: Get a version of ch. 2 ready to send to committee
Kit: [Write the first draft of a dissertation chapter]: ((specific goal for this week??))
NWGirl [Revising a conference paper into an article MS]: draft section 3 and conclusion
Sapience [Prepare presentation of full dissertation for department]: Keep working on the presentation/ introduction, especially in terms of organization; shift to revisions of the main work if feedback comes in.
Scatterwriter [Complete expansion/revision of an article MS]: write up final point suggested by reviewers, then make last passes through the manuscript as a whole
Scholastic Mama [Revising a conference paper into an article MS]: excused absence for faculty seminar, but will use the time to do some reading
Susan [Revise & polish two chapters of a book MS]: either continue on the current (interrupted) chapter, or go spend a few days on the introduction
Tigs [Completed diss draft]: finish edits on chs. 3-6; complete draft of ch. 7 (NPhD: wow – that seems like a lot for a single week…)
Travelia [prepare book MS for review]: take stock of book ms and create a master to-do list of necessary and desired revisions, making detailed notes on the strengths and weaknesses of each chapter
Zabeel [Complete draft of an article]: one-week holiday planned

Awaiting report:

Audie [working on transitioning a dissertation chapter to an article]*
J. Otto Pohl [Complete draft of 2/3-finished book MS]*
Jen [Revising conference paper into article MS]*
Matilda [Draft of a publishable paper]*
Mel [Finish dissertation!]*
Zcat abroad [write an article]*

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Leeds Reaction 2

Went to lunch today with a friend who needs to come to Leeds more so he can talk about Viking-y things (and grace the disco with his presence), and Friend Who Needs a New Pseudonym (so, currently, FWNNP), and told them about it, at their request. It was sort of nice, because it reminded me of some of the highlights and less-than-highlights, so that I can start writing them up. Still unable to say how my own paper went, although FWNNP liked the one report he'd seen. But then, he liked the paper, too, which he read in a less-polished draft.

But other than that, I was able to tell them about the Really Not Fun experience of giving the time signal, then giving it again, and then again, and having the speaker tell me he was finishing -- only to go into another section. Good thing the original moderator was not there, is all I can say. But, since you all know how I feel about this, let me just say it again: DO NOT DO THIS. EVER. Not if you are famous, not if you are a post-grad, not if you are in the middle. You are taking time from other people. Also, you really aren't doing yourself any favors. If you go over by more than about 2 minutes, people stop paying attention, because they are counting. that's right. You lose your audience. You especially lose the audience if what you are saying is already on a slide in front of them. And, if you are trying to impress, there's a chance you won't, because people will remember the behavior more than they will a brilliant (or even weak, I think) paper.

And I told them about the paper that was pretty much all about how one historian had got it wrong, over and over again. That one was really pretty fun. And the clothing papers, which I will say something about. And the really good one in the session before mine, which was well-delivered by someone speaking in a third language, well-constructed, and really just plain interesting.

I got to tell them about the disco, which suffered from poorer musical choices this year than in the past (really? American Pie when people are still sober? or, actually, ever?), and the very nice people who were there and who they would have liked to have seen. And then we had an extended conversation about "Scandinavian" burials in Ireland. Very extended. Is "Scandinavian" indicative of location? or of ethnicity? both? neither? When immigrants do things that commemorate their cultural traditions (but may not actually be those traditions, but things that are sort of blown up beyond recognition), how do we treat that?

And then we talked more about archaeology. Or rather, they did, and I interjected on occasion, because as I told them, I managed to survive a grad seminar where we talked about onion-topped fibulae for over a week, I think, and can vaguely tell the difference between the best-known fibulae (or brooch, if you'd rather) types. I can even read archaeological reports and understand them pretty well. But really? Not so much my thing. On the other hand, it's nice to have been updated on the whole NO! it's not that! it's an SBT! thing, even if it reminds me that I need to read a bit more on the 5th C.

And now, I'm off home tomorrow. Sad to leave the UK, happy to be going home to cats and friends, sad to not be working in the BL, happy that the Nice Librarian has offered to let me work in a nice space over there, so that I don't have to spend any more time in my department than is necessary. Yes, I think that this year, I will be playing the role of the absentee Department Chair: on campus, available to students and administrators, but not actually in my office unless there are plenty of people around.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Leeds Reaction #1

First off, my Leeds was a bit odd. I never felt I hit my stride till maybe the last day. Normally, I ask questions -- in fact, I have been accused of asking awkward questions. This time, I felt very disconnected, and had a horrible time processing information. I think part of it was that many of the session moderators paused for questions after each paper, and so I didn't have the time to ruminate as I usually do. Anyway, it was a far more difficult Leeds than I expected. The best part was that I got to talk to some really nice and intelligent people, and even though I felt more imposter-like than usual, there were moments that inspired me. One was Guy Halsall's paper, which confronted outright the issue of historians whose work seemed, willingly or unwittingly, to lend fuel to (especially) right-wing political agendas, particularly those that connected immigration to barbarian/Roman relations.

It was especially interesting to me because it bears on an internal conflict I regularly confront. I absolutely agree with him -- yet I am also very aware of the fact that I try very hard not to engage with the current political atmosphere when I teach. Except that I do, in some ways -- it's probably not a coincidence that I frame my surveys around issues like the relationship of the subject/citizen to lord/state, and on ways in which different cultures saw legal status, for example.

It also made me think about what it was that made me uncomfortable about my own paper. I was, and am, very certain that we need to re-think certain basic assumptions about the history of women. But I also do believe Judith Bennett is right about the patriarchal equilibrium. So I honestly worry that, by challenging people to stop simply assuming the oppression of women and the absence of female agency as a starting point, I might also be giving the false impression that I don't think they could be true. Ok -- I'm not entirely sure that "oppressed" is a helpful or good word for the early MA, because it seems to me to be a word best employed when there is a clear understanding of rights being restricted against one's will.

When I argue that we need to understand the situation of women differently, it doesn't mean that I think women's situations were better, or worse. I just mean that we should think about imposing our own values on the past in ways that might not have made sense to the people living there. But Guy's post hits at the underlying problem, and it is one I deal with regularly: to a non-specialist reader, or student, I can see how my approach could reinforce the opinions of people inclined towards anti-feminism and perhaps even give them excuses for dismissing the inequalities of the early MA. And that's not what I want. I don't want them to say, "oh, but look -- women DID have these legal rights we thought they didn't, so obviously we can dismiss any silly feminist arguments." I want people to ask questions so they can see that sometimes things look like one thing, but have a different meaning in a different context. And I think that that should make people more aware of feminist issues (in this case, but really, pick an issue and you can make the argument). But the sessions helped me to put a name to the nagging worry that people will think I am asking them to throw the proverbial baby out with the proverbial bathwater, or even that they will try to find evidence to support a right-wing view that feminism is somehow a bad thing, or a lie.


Thursday, July 14, 2011


More on Leeds later, but rumor has it that things went reasonably well. I was at least able to walk into my session with the knowledge that one colleague had reviewed the draft and liked it. More on the very interesting papers I heard later, and again, I've still got a little bit of the high I always get from talking to really smart people with beer added.

But now, a nap. Apparently I am being taken somewhere by a friend in an hour or so.

Monday, July 11, 2011

At Leeds IMC

And not bloody ready AT ALL.

If you are a RL friend, you have permission to bug me. If you don't really know me yet, please forgive the fact that I may be a bit rude to anybody who wants to talk until I can talk without worrying that my paper -- which is now something like a paper -- needs finishing.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Writing Group Check-In

Hi all --

Well, I am still being somewhat Overtaken By Events, some of which are academic, and some of which are down to a lot of odd things happening in my personal life that I will not go into here. One of the academic event is something I will come back to as soon as the paper is actually finished. I am heading off to the BL as soon as I post this.

But here is one of the things I've realized: when all the time you have for research is the summer, it's possibly not the best idea to use all of that time for a paper you might have been able to get done at home with Interlibrary loan... Also, in my case, I have to remember that reading for a paper is not the same as reading to actually read and learn. I can't read everything I want in its entirety. I wish I could. I should. But there is only so much time, and I always forget that serious reading takes practice -- and I'm out of practice most summers, because I spend most of the academic year reading for classes that are out of my strongest areas of expertise, or completely new (pirates. not doing that again...)

So expect me to write something I hope will be useful about not making the same summer (or for some people, research leave) mistakes over and over. In the meantime, maybe you could also share some ideas on that?

Thanks, and here are your last week's goals, compiled by Notorious, whose super-organized Type A personality is a godsend at the moment!

Writing group week 6 goals:

ABDMama [Draft of an article MS]: Pull sections from diss chapter to help fill out the article; work at least an hour each day.
ADM [conference paper for Leeds; revision of paper after]: finish Leeds paper…or else!
Audie [working on transitioning a dissertation chapter to an article]: reread all secondary sources and current chapter draft; map out/outline article
Dame Eleanor [Revising a conference paper into article MS]: No specific goal posted.
Digger [drafts of two book chapters]: continue working on book chapter; flesh out conference paper outline and start getting image permissions for book
Dr. Koshary [work on book MS]: finish a rough draft of chapter 4
Eileen [First draft of a dissertation chapter]: finish previous goal of 4K words on theory/quantitative data
Erika [Review-ready draft of an article MS]: 500 new words a day, plus clean up one old page per day
Firstmute [chapter draft; send out article]: Finish article draft & send to advisor.
Frog Princess [Review-ready draft of completed dissertation]: Finsh introduction & compile everything
Gillian [an article that needs writing]: Detour for final revision of Leeds paper
Godiva [First draft of diss. chap.]: Write 500 words/day
J. Otto Pohl [Complete draft of 2/3-finished book MS]: completely finish the deportation section
Jen [Revising conference paper into article MS]: finish the current section, writing 400 words each morning.
Kit: [Write the first draft of a dissertation chapter]: write 500 words a day
Matilda [Draft of a publishable paper]: small parts of three separate tasks, with deadlines for each in mind
Mel [Finish dissertation!]: Finish discussion section of chapter 4
NWGirl [Revising a conference paper into an article MS]: Finish section 1 of article & draft section 2
Sapience [diss chapter (done! ahead of schedule!) Prepare presentation of full dissertation for department]: start outlining presentation
Scatterwriter [Complete expansion/revision of an article MS]: start last passes through complete book to make sure argument is complete; begin drafting cover letter to editor
Scholastic Mama [Revising a conference paper into an article MS]: complete week 5 of WJA book
Susan [Revise & polish two chapters of a book MS]: On vacation for two weeks
Tigs [Completed diss draft]: finish the legal section of ch. 2, do a first round of edit on the culture section, and break down what else needs to be done to finish off the chapter
Travelia [Write two conference papers]: give a talk on topic at one conference; looking ahead to the following week to prepare book MS for review [NPhD: Travelia, do you want to add this MS to your overall goals?]
What Now [Polished book proposal]: trying to figure out what to do when a project is scooped
Zabeel [Draft first two sections of new article]: read three books and one article; continue daily writing goals of 3 hrs/day
Zcat abroad [write an article]: Plan out structure of article, and re-read base text for notes

Awaiting report:

Bardiac [Review-ready article MS]*
Caleb Woodbridge [MA thesis]**
Cly [revise article for publication & draft chapter for book]**
Jason [First draft of a dissertation chapter]**
Jeff [Review-ready draft of completed dissertation]*
Ms McD: Revising a conference paper into an article MS***
My Museology: redraft three dissertation chapters***
Ro [MS revision (NPhD: article?)]*

Thursday, July 07, 2011

following GH

So I suppose I am both happy and semi-annoyed to find what has become an impetus for this paper laid out so clearly on p. 321 ff of Cemeteries and Society in Merovingian Gaul.

I'm in very good company, at least.

The real question is, what are we going to do about it?

Blogger meet-up at Leeds

Hello, all --

For those going to the International Medieval Congress at Leeds next week, Jonathan Jarrett and Magistra et Mater are organising a bloggers'meetup. This will be 6-8 pm, Stables Pub at the Weetwood site on Tuesday 12th July. For anyone who has not met any of us before, Magistra will be the tall middle-aged woman with short brown hair, glasses and a faintly bemused look. Jon has long black hair and will be talking enthusiastically. I am the medium-sized (I suppose -- not particularly tall, nor short, nor thin, but not actually plump), middle-aged (because I am certainly older than Magistra and Jon), and blonde with a sort of bob-pageboy haircut, likely in something brown-and-white or black-and-white and skirt-ish.

Monday, July 04, 2011

An example of why I am writing this paper

"Allegations that widows took fraudulent vows in order to remain free to lead a life of sexual abandon leave no doubt that the cloistering of widows represented an integral part of the church's effort to enforce monogamy. As this program met with success and the conjugal family emerged as the basic unit of society, the function of sheltering unmarried ladies, formerly assumed by extended families, was taken over by the convents. As in other spheres of life, her too the royal family led the way. Louis the Pious not only sent his notorious sisters to nunneries but also installed his widowed mother-in-law as abbess at Chelles." SF Wemple, Women in Frankish Society, 105

Granted, Wemple is sort of old news these days. But the ghost of this sort of scholarship is alive and well, I think. There's plenty out there that contradicts this interpretation, which rests in part on a feminist reading of the role of the church in the Early Middle Ages and indeed, on a function of monogamy that may or may not have been entirely true at the time. Most importantly, I think, is a more recent idea that we see in, for example, essays in de Jong's Topographies of Power, LeJan's Femmes, pouvoir et societé, and even in Goldberg's biography of Louis the German and Althoff's work on the Ottonians. That those all assume a degree of agency that Wemple doesn't is very important. That only one of them is in English is one of the reasons that I'm writing this stupid paper: despite the fact that more and more Anglophones seem to be reading German these days, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of synthesizing going on, or at least not on a level that is reaching more 'general' audiences. We have reached a point, I think, where we are no longer explicitly arguing against older assumptions (and I am not sure that we ever really did, because that would mean -- shock! horror! -- engaging in women's or even feminist history, which might undermine our standing as real historians who work with charters and stuff). Rather, we are arguing for a much more interesting and nuanced picture of women's roles in early medieval society that is still haunted by unresolved scholarly approaches.

Or maybe not. Stay tuned.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Writing Group Check-In up at Notorious, PhD's

Hey all -- this week's check-in is up here. My week has been good in some ways (talked to people about the paper, got totally freaked out, looked at abstract again and realized that the paper I keep thinking I'm "settling" for is the one I said I was going to write -- I just now think it's a lame paper.

But I'm going to write the damned thing.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Writing Group Check-In

Hello, WG!

Member Susan has just walked over to remind me to post so that she can update! The illustrious Notorious, PhD has kindly sent on the list of participants and their goals from last week (below), so that I can check things off as they come in. Please, everyone, don't forget to also post your goals for next week, as well as any changes to your longer-term goals.

WHAT? Changes? Well, yes. And, in fact, that's what I want to talk about this week. Well, that and how to juggle projects. The thing is, projects and priorities sometimes get shifted, either by necessity or from opportunity. So, for example, when I came back from Berks, I had been given A Job To Do, i.e., to submit my paper to a journal by today. That's something I really hadn't counted on, especially with the admin work I meant to finish when at home, that I still need to get to Superdean. So now I have three immediate projects: a paper submission; assessment reports; and my Leeds paper. Also, I'm in the UK, and need to make those things happen while juggling being a decent houseguest (rather than just someone who crashes at a friend's place), visiting family, dealing with a rather extensive commute (I'm staying somewhere between West Drayton and Uxbridge, i.e., about 75 minutes from the BL, and actually making the best use of my time in the BL.

I'm fairly sure you all have similar things happening. Some of those things are just life. I'm not going to talk about them. Instead, I am going to say a little something about juggling the writing projects in the time set aside for work. First? I'm not so good at it. I haven't got my paper ready to submit, because I really felt it was important to get a bit of a grasp on the Leeds paper first, and get myself into some sort of work routine this week. No work on Monday, because it was a flying day. But I've been trying to do reading that will benefit both projects. I think this is one of the things that many of us forget: sometimes, we can work on two things at once, if only because things are related. So on Wednesday, I opened up my Leeds paper project on Scrivener, and started a project file for the article. As I've read, I've found some things I needed to add to one, some that help for the other, some that apply to both. The general citations, notes, and tagging have gone into Zotero, and then I've added about four hundred words to the Berks paper and written about 1100 words for Leeds (although about 2/3 of that is rambly notes that won't make it into the final paper).

So yeah, trying to work on two things at once is one way of doing things. Another thing I've been doing is taking a few minutes at the end of the afternoon to take stock of what I've done, make notes for things I want to do in particular (books to order, etc.) and what I haven't got done. Then, I try to look at that list again in the morning. It's helping, I think, although not as much as I'd like. This coming week, I want to start adding to that notes on setting aside time to do certain things, so that I can make sure that projects aren't dropping off the radar.

What is both helpful and difficult here is that I have three deadlines. Today (missed, but I will be in the library tomorrow and hope to finish the draft then); next week (or my dean will kill me); and something like the 10th (because that's when I get on the train for Leeds). Keeping those in mind is also very important. So -- deadlines that can be re-scheduled sometimes; taking stock and making sure to make and log progress on each project; constant re-evaluation of each project. Let's see how it goes next week.

In the meantime, how are the rest of you doing? (I'll put a strike through last week where applicable and list what you did, and your goal for next week)

ABDMama [Draft of an article MS]: complete going through the primary and secondary sources identified this week

ADM General goal: [conference paper for Leeds; revision of paper after]; Last week's goal: work on Leeds paper added c. 400 words to Berks paper, wrote about 1100 words for Leeds, read several books on property and land transactions; Next week: [submit Berks paper w/ revisions; get a better handle on Leeds paper with detailed outline -- I'm traveling for 2-3 days, but part will be spent conferring with Magistra et Mater, who knows things about my topic, so hope to have about the same amount of writing, but much more polished and usable]

Bardiac: [Review-ready article MS*] [out of town, but wrote up a work plan] [this week: follow work plan?] NB from ADM -- a little more detail might be helpful!

Caleb Woodbridge [MA thesis]: No goal submitted for next week [NPhD: these are important to keep you accountable and moving forward]

Cly [revise article for publication & draft chapter for book]: Incorporate article changes and have skeleton of book chapter

Dame Eleanor [Revising a conference paper into article MS]: need to finish the conference paper this week, but put in 20-30 minutes a day taking notes or outlining the main project.

Digger: [drafts of two book chapters] [This week: edit chapter, incl. tables; 1 abstract written and submitted for a conference in Jan; an outline for 2nd conference paper]

Dr. Koshary [Review-ready article MS]: "slap together" narrow draft

Eileen [First draft of a dissertation chapter]: another 4k words integrating data theory, complete with clean citations

Erika: Review-ready draft of an article MS* [This week -- finish reading primary sources, add 1-2 pp of writing to draft]

Firstmute [draft of the final dissertation chapter]: (small shift in priorities) [This week -- have the article in shape to send to my advisor by Friday. I'll have a secondary goal of putting in 1 hr a day on the chapter]

Frog Princess [Review-ready draft of completed dissertation]: produce review-ready revision of current chapter, and to write a workable first draft of the introduction… thus resulting in the first complete draft of the whole dissertation [NPhD: Woot!! Go, Frogprincess!!!]

Gillian [an article that needs writing]: detour to finish Leeds paper

Godiva [First draft of diss. chap.]: Read one long narrative source

J. Otto Pohl [Complete draft of 2/3-finished book MS]:[make up for lost writing time] [NPhD suggestion: a more concrete weekly goal to help keep you on track; ADM thinks this is very necessary -- a word count meter is good, but you can have one of those without a writing group!]

Jason [First draft of a dissertation chapter]: Traveling, so will commit to squeezing in 3 writing sessions during the week, plus 90 minutes of reading each travel day; also create a daily work schedule for New Summer Place. [NPhD: hooray for having a summer writing retreat! Can we all come?]

Jeff [Review-ready draft of completed dissertation]: at workshop, but trying to revise Nth chapter

Jen [Revising conference paper into article MS]: Traveling for wedding, so goal is just to write a little every day.

Kit: [Need LT goal -- can't find it] [500 words a day]

Matilda [Draft of a publishable paper]: work through week 5 section of WYJA; working hard on the draft I was asked, which needs quite a bit of reading, and its deadline is coming. While doing these tasks, I am working continuously on my own article. I will. (Note from ADM: try to come up with concrete objectives, rather than "working hard" -- it's something that really does help when juggling projects]

NWGirl [Revising a conference paper into an article MS]: "Write first" [NPhD: sing it, sister!], with a goal of completing at least one section of the paper.

Ro [MS revision (NPhD: article?)]: Traveling, but continue readings in primary sources, writing up notes of insights gained and significant detail seen so far

Sapience [diss chapter]: work on article abstract for a book CFP and job market materials while waiting for feedback from advisor

Sara [Revision of research exam]: Read two articles & incorporate them into draft

Scatterwriter [Complete expansion/revision of an article MS]: identify more concepts to focus on and to write up at least one of them (if not more)

Scholastic Mama [Revising a conference paper into an article MS]: Read a couple of things by Abelard to fill in a gap in the evidence.

Susan [Revise & polish two chapters of a book MS]: [Last week: Complete draft of the current chapter and sketch out what needs doing on the next] [this week -- two amorphous but essential summaries of brosder bodies of information]

Tigs [Completed diss draft]: Rewrite legal section of ch. 2, and finish initial round of edits on pop culture section

Travelia [Write two conference papers]: finished most of one paper, finishing up and conferencing this week.

What Now [Polished book proposal]: idea stepped on; taking a week to regroup/rethink

Zabeel [Draft first two sections of new article]: Again, my focus is on working consistently. It's going to be a reading week -- Mon and Tues in the BL, then some close work on primary sources again working toward getting a more complete draft er... drafted.

Zcat abroad [write two articles]: Traveling [NPhd: Okay, but next week, give us a concrete goal, yes?]

Awaiting report:

Anastasia: a book chapter to write for an edited volume**

Audie: working on transitioning a dissertation chapter to an article**

Avery: Draft of an article MS***

Historydoll: Convert dissertation chapter into an article*


Ms McD: Revising a conference paper into an article MS*

My Museology: redraft three dissertation chapters*

theswain: editing & rewriting; produce new reviews/summaries for New Year's work**

UPDATE: Hi all -- still updating goals, but have some inputted now!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Chasing the ghost of von Ranke

So I'm writing a Leeds paper about a ghost. It's the ghost of "everybody says" or "people used to say" or "common knowledge." It's a paper that came out of a few conversations, conversations where people said, "But X couldn't do Y," or,"But that wasn't supposed to happen," or, "but you can't trust this source because it: isn't what you think it is; is possibly (or is) a forgery; is not the original, but a 12th C recreation; probably didn't have that witness list (which by the way might not really be a witness list) attached to the original, etc."

So I thought, "let's try to figure out what it is we know, and what it is we don't, and who told us this stuff that is common knowledge." I thought I needed to know this because not to know it, and more importantly, not to discuss the historiography and the arguments scholars have had before sticking in my own oar, seemed shoddy work.

Then I talked to a colleague who said, "if it's old and obviously wrong, I just ignore it! Why document that someone else argued against what you are now going to demonstrate?" Well, that's a good question. I think that we need to trace the arguments a bit, if only because people like me, who are to some extent self-taught, would like a bit of help.

But the more I look at things, including articles by a single scholar that say one thing 20 years ago, then suddenly don't, and perhaps mention the reason for their change of heart in a very small footnote, the more I wonder if I have to worry quite as much.

So my paper will be methodological, and will likely focus on the evidence for what seems to have been true.

And the conclusion? History is complicated. Carolingian history is packed with people who say one thing and do another. Theory is fine, but practice often diverges from it. Basically, if you are a historian who does the job at all well, you'll use the evidence honestly, draw your conclusions, and point out where we have to use the sources with big chunks of salt, and why.

It's not going to be wie es eigentlich gewesen. But I think (or at least this is how I am justifying it to myself) that sometimes, the best we can do is present the evidence, explain why we think it means what it does and how it fits in, and admit there are big holes that other people may interpret differently. Sometimes, it's not about knowing the answers, I think. Sometimes, good history is about pointing out where and why there are questions we might not be able to answer. Or so I hope.

In the BL

Working. Glancing around the room, I see a colleague from St Andrews and someone else Historian on the Edge has mentioned a few times. And regular reader Susan should be here later.

In the meantime, reading a little Warren Brown and a lot of Wendy Davies, et al.

Must organize time, though. The problem with being here is that I just want to gorge on books that I can't normally access, and really, I need to focus on particular projects. Speaking of which, I need to look at the Leeds programme and see if I'm talking for 20 minutes or 15!

Going down to Cambridge next week to see Magistra...

Later, gang.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Let the panic begin

Well, I leave for London in two days. I have promised to finish my admin stuff Real Soon Now -- and that really means by the end of next week. I also promised a group of fairly intimidating women scholars that I would submit my paper from Berks to an Actual Journal by the end of next week. In the meanwhile, I am beginning to panic about my Leeds paper and why the hell I thought it would be a good idea. Just kill me now.

At least I will be in the place of peace that is the BL by Tuesday...

In the meantime, I am trying to get together my life, my house, and denying it all by watching Season One of Being Human.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Final Berks Post (what I love about the Berks)

All right... so despite my grumpiness at feeling marginalized because of my scholarly interests, which grumpiness increased when I overheard the following comments:

"I need one of those handouts -- the one with the funny writing" (for two incredibly normal-to-ANY-pre-modernist documents)

" least you can ignore all that irrelevant medieval stuff" ('irrelevant' definitely modified medieval rather than stuff)

Despite that, I enjoyed the Berks as I have before. There were tons of cool people, and the medievalists (and some other pre-modernists) who were there at least had the chance to see each other and hang out together a bit more than we would have at the Zoo. There was an antiquity paper, two (TWO!) Carolingian papers, a couple of charter papers, and some later stuff. The nice thing about being a medievalist (especially if you're one like me who started in the 19th C, then moved to Tudor, then to Classics, then forward to Anglo-Norman before settling in the EMA) is that there's a pretty broad range of stuff that is familiar. The panels I went to were all really good, and almost every paper was solid, interesting, and well worth hearing. There were a couple that were less good, but none were poor. I heard a gorgeous paper on Late Antique cosmetics and pharmacology, a really interesting one on the ways Chinggis Khan used marriage networks, another on Baldwin of Flanders' marriages... The quality of papers is a real tribute to the program committee(s). I went to a workshop today, and can't say I loved the format, but that might in part be because the one I went to was sort of cobbled together from a solid panel and some papers that needed homes, I think.

Besides that, though, Berks did offer one of the things it does really well -- the opportunity to meet other scholars, make connections, mentor and be mentored, and in my case, get my butt kicked about my inability to move papers to publications. I'm not sure why, but Berks does tend to attract a group of women scholars who just don't have time for bullshit. It results in a different sort of dynamics -- maybe because women in groups, or maybe those women? are really good at being blunt without hurting feelings or egos. So if you are thinking of Berks, then keep an eye out for the CFP. The only way to get more pre-modern on the program is to get involved. And the benefits generally outweigh the costs (which can be semi-pricey, depending on where it is -- UMass was expensive, but Minnesota was really cheap). Besides, if you're anything like me, you teach enough non-medieval stuff that you can still still ask questions at panels :-)

A small note on panels and timekeeping

Please do this. Try to keep to time. This is really important. It's being considerate to your colleagues on the panel, and also to the people who would like to hear papers on two panels. Your paper is probably interesting. It might be the most interesting paper in the world. Everybody might want to hear more, but you know? that's what question time is for. If it is the most interesting paper in the world, the questions will reflect that.

I have been at conferences where senior scholars have gone over -- a lot (one went over 40 minutes, and made it necessary to carry the questions over to the next morning, so that the two senior scholars who had stuck to time -- and incidentally given much more interesting and solid papers -- could answer questions). It's really unforgivable. But if you are a senior scholar, especially one who is well-known, you can get away with it once in a while. If you are a well-loved senior scholar, you might be able to get away with it more often, but if you make a habit of it, you won't be as well-loved.

If you are a junior scholar, it depends on how good you are. If you're scary good, then you can probably get away with it in the manner of senior scholars. But if you aren't? Best to be extra-polite.

If you are a grad student? We all get how involved you are with your subject. We were there once, too. But there's a good case that you aren't as plugged in to the community at the conference yet. You might want to consider that people on your panel and in the audience are folks who can be useful to you, or whom you want to impress, but you ave no idea what they look like. And this can be true on a larger level. When, for example, someone who appears meek and polite (not me, btw) makes a comment and asks a question, think carefully before correcting them abruptly. That person could be someone whose research and teaching have included your topic since before you started grad school, and the question might be going somewhere that would help you. They might be making a different point that you weren't expecting. And sometimes, that person is also a person who organizes conferences in your field, or edits a journal you want to submit to, or will recognize your paper when it comes across her desk for peer review.

I happen to be a person who teeters between absolute fear at conferences (yes, I spend hours asking patient friends if my paper was ok, or if my question was dumb!) and trying to be really polite, and then stepping into things and being perhaps too blunt (and in fact, I just jumped in and argued with a colleague over something). There are many people who are better at conference behavior than I am. But I do think that considering all the dynamics of what could be happening around you, and that every person you don't know (or do), might be worth at least trying to be polite to, is probably something to aim for.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Berks, round two

So, it's been an marvelous Berks! Despite a lack of pre-modern stuff, there are lots of cool pre-modernists here. My paper went well, I think, and Janice gave a great paper, as did pretty much every person I know! I've seen a bunch of papers so far, including one on Chinggis Khan, one on medieval Islamic law, one on Medici women...

I've met up with lots of old friends, had dinner with Impressive Medievalists, including Extremely Cool Colleague, and some new ones. Met Knitting Clio, Cliotropic, and saw Belle, Tanya, Clio's Disciple, Clio Bluestocking, and Tenured Radical. Really missed Historiann, but am happy Madeleine is ok.

So, yay for another great Berks (more pre-modern, please!!) and tomorrow? home and more work. Apparently, I am submitting two papers to journals by the end of the summer. Eep!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Dear Berks Organizers

For next time, could you please try to get more pre-modern -- and especially pre-16th C -- papers? The program is really embarrassingly imbalanced towards the modern and the American. I like the conference, and it's pretty awesome. But honestly? All you have to do is read Judith Bennett's History Matters to get an idea of the contributions of medievalists to women's history. We've been doing it a long time.

This is something that seriously pisses me off, because it shouldn't happen. Medievalists were doing postmodernist work before modernists got the clue and gave what we'd been doing a cool name. Medievalists and Classicists have been doing interdisciplinary work since long before it became cool and necessary. Um, duh. Medievalists have been looking at women for kind of a long time, and there is an awful lot of good work on women in the MA that might even -- dare I say it? inform some of what our modernist colleagues are only just discovering.

And yet, a conference that grew from the marginalization of women historians and women's history makes me feel very marginalized in the very same way I feel in my department and on my campus. It's a good reminder that privilege comes in many forms.

I can go to pretty much any panel here and feel comfortable with the topic and be able to ask questions. I teach World Civ. I am a woman of a certain age and a feminist. I have a good grip on modern stuff because I live in the modern era. These things are part of my everyday life. They are also, to some extent, current events to me, and almost political science rather than history. If it happened after I started school, I have a hard time seeing it as "history."

But here, as in my department, on my campus, and at AHA, I feel like I have to apologize because what I do is not necessarily as accessible. I feel like I have to apologize for reading and using Latin and German (and no, I'm not doing handouts of the texts as I would at a medieval conference; I'm just doing quick translations in the text). I feel like I have to convince my colleagues here -- if they even ask -- that working on kinship and family and remarriage in the MA is relevant.

The last Berks wasn't so much like that, I think in part because one of the organizers was the amazing Ruth Mazo Karras. There were enough pre-modern, and even medievalist, papers that I had to make choices. This year? not so much. It's more about digging to find something that I can use in teaching. The best panel is a roundtable on Sunday -- and I will have to miss part of it because the conference is in BFE in terms of transport. I really hope that the organizers think about these things a bit more next time. /grumpy rant.

Writing group, Week Two

Hi all -- welcome to week two! I've used executive privilege to add two new people, Cly and theswain, and added the names of a couple of people who asked to be in before the first week. However, the group is now closed till next session, unless Notorious overrules me! Last week, I asked Notorious to post this:

Lots of people started out making less progress than perhaps they had planned, for all sorts of good reasons. But we all know that those good reasons still eat into our time, and can often mean a sense of failure that affects getting the writing done. For next week, let's not only post our goals, but also think about one or two small things that, even if life starts getting in the way, we can get done to move the project forward. It could be reviewing a couple of articles, or drafting an outline, or even just freewriting 500 words you think you'll have to dump -- but it should be something you can point to and say, "I did this thing."

So, what are/were your small goals (or baby steps) for this last week? What did you get done? For those of you who are juggling many things, was it helpful to log even the small things?

My week was incredibly busy. I was away scoring AP exams from 8-5 every day. But I managed to write another 750 words on my paper for Berks (which I am now cutting down and practicing for tomorrow!), and did some reading and note-taking (a good article by Rachel Stone: "Bound from Either Side’: The Limits of Power in Carolingian Marriage Disputes, 840--870") for the Leeds paper. Next week, I am planning to review the research I've already done on the paper and draw up plan for what I need to do and order books to be waiting for me at the BL when I get there on the 21st.

In the meantime, I have to say that I used Scrivener for my Berks paper, and LOVED it. It allows one to write in little chunks, which sometimes suits my schedule. I'm also still playing with Sente, and it's wonderful in its way, although sadly, it has some things that zotero doesn't, but zotero allows one to tag individual notes, which I think makes it better. Next thing this coming week is to see if I can get the standalone zotero to work on my macbook. I'm looking for something I can integrate with an iPad, and so far Sente is the only thing that does. BUT ... if I could use Sente and export to zotero, I could get all the functionality I want.

(also, I will be adding links to everyone's profile as I get the chance don't forget you can click on people's names in comments to link to profiles/blogs!)

  • Sapience: a first draft and a revised draft of the current dissertation chapter
  • Dame Eleanor: Revising a conference paper into an article MS
  • NWGirl: Same thing.
  • ADM: a conference paper for Leeds
  • ABDMama: Draft of an article MS
  • Dr. Koshary: Review-ready article MS
  • Sara: Revision of her research exam
  • What Now: Polished book proposal
  • Avery: Draft of an article MS
  • Jason: First draft of a dissertation chapter
  • J. Otto Pohl: Complete a draft of a two-thirds finished book MS
  • Jeff: Review-ready draft of his completed dissertation
  • Frog Princess: Same thing
  • Erika: Review-ready draft of an article MS (taken from the dissertation)
  • Godiva: First draft of a dissertation chapter
  • Kit: Same thing
  • Eileen: Same thing, too!
  • Bardiac: Review-ready article MS (revision of a draft paper)
  • Scholastic Mama: Revising a conference paper into an article MS
  • Jen: same thing
  • Tigs: Completed dissertation draft
  • Digger: drafts of two book chapters (one already underway)
  • Zcat abroad: write two articles [??] [is this from scratch, or two revisions? Seems like a lot for 12 weeks; just sayin']
  • Caleb Woodbridge: MA thesis
  • Matilda: Draft of one paper [for a conference? or for publication?]
  • Zabeel: Draft of the first two (of four) sections of a from-scratch article.
  • Ro: first draft of an essay for an collected volume (mid-summer)
  • Firstmute: draft of the final [ed. note: YAY!!!] dissertation chapter
  • Scatterwriter: Complete expansion/revision of an article MS.
  • Susan: Revise & polish two chapters of a book MS
  • Travelia: Write two conference papers (possibly more later in the summer)
  • Ms McD: Revising a conference paper into an article MS
  • Gillian: an article that needs writing.
  • Audie: working on transitioning a dissertation chapter to an article!
  • Anastasia: a book chapter to write for an edited volume.
  • My Museology: redraft three dissertation chapters.
  • Cly: redraft three of my dissertation chapters.
  • theswain: lots of editing and rewriting of what I've already written. New stuff -- trying to produce reviews/summaries for Year's Work in OE Studies.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Today's Cool resource

If you hadn't yet seen Regnum Francorum Online

Sunday, May 29, 2011

look! another thought about charters!

hmmm. So you have a charter. Actually, you have lots of charters. And the editor of the charters has given them titles according to the names of the people who make the donation (or whatever). This makes sense... except that a lot of the donations appear to be made by trustees, who are merely passing along someone else's donation, as it were. So legally, they are the donors. Functionally, though, they sort of aren't, in the sense that monastic donations are normally made in the hopes that someone's sins will be remediated (although I came across one today that actually uses pro absolutione peccatorum). The trustee is just a middle man whose job is to fulfill someone else's wishes (or to grant permission, depending on the sort of trustee it is).

Add to that the fact that there are two different sorts of trusteeship, as far as I can tell (and is manu potestativa really a livery of seisin in the C9th and C10th?) and it makes for interesting reading. Except that I can't recall having read anything in particular that splits out donors of origin from donors who are trustees (and especially donors who are trustees whose relationships to the donors of origin are unclear, except when noted or when they are counts or other officials).

I have actually read my way through Bresslau, and Beumann, and Ewig, and any number of other godsawful German paperweights designed to tell us about such things, and I don't remember seeing much discussion of this -- but then there is a soporific quality to such reading...

So, hivemind, can you think offhand of anything that clearly articulates what we mean by 'donor' and if it takes into account donations made by trustees? More specifically, can you think of anything that talks about such things pre-11th (or even 10th) century and Frankish?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Writing Group: Call for Participants

As previously announced, Notorious Ph.D., Girl Scholar (from whom I shamelessly borrowed this text) and I are launching the pilot term of our online writing group. We're going to be starting up next Friday. For now, we'll be doing this as sort of an open-thread Friday, where you check in once a week to report on your progress. Occasionally, we may offer suggestions of things to contemplate and comment on in a given week. But mostly, it's going to be about us being a group of people who hold each other accountable for producing a finished piece of writing in a 12-week period. June 3 will be week one, the first week that you report progress. August 19th will be week twelve – the week you have your project finished.

Who can participate? Anyone who is writing something. Given that Notorious and I are both academics, and both in the Humanities, our posts will likely be geared toward that audience. But all are welcome to participate.

Lest you think this is all loosey-goosey, however, we're going to require one thing from anyone who wants to participate: A firm commitment. So that's the theme of this thread: What will you commit to writing in this twelve-week period? A conference paper? An article? A chapter of your dissertation? Will it be a complete first draft or a revision? It can be anything you want, so long as you can commit to working on it and reporting your progress weekly, and – most importantly – finishing it by August 19th. So figure out what you can reasonably accomplish, and tell us about it.

Notorious and I will alternate weeks to host. She'll take the first week, Friday June 3rd, when we'll talk about your first week's progress, but also the importance of daily writing, and your writing environment. But that's for next week. For now, let's just get to know each other, and share our project goals for the next twelve weeks.

Hope to see you there!

From Notorious: There are many wonderful writing guides out there, but one that I'd love to recommend to this group in particular is "Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks." It's geared towards advanced grad students and early- to mid-career academics, and focuses on taking something you've already got a bit of a draft of (seminar paper? conference paper?) and expanding, revising, and shaping it into a polished piece. Week-by-week instructions and everything. It's not an "assignment" for the group, but I've used it with great success.

From me: I love to track word counts, and find that posting a word count meter is useful. You can find a really nice little version here.

You have to update it at the site when you add words, and then replace the code, but it's not much of a problem. I've added one for my current project at the top left of the sidebar.

Amusing charter thing

Supradictus Williprahtus malo conatu ipsam supradictam rem auferre studuit sed dep volente atque iustitia dictante coram prefectis nuntiisque imperatoris Werine et Unfride per vim cogatur tradidit quod debuit et isti sunt testes de illa traditione. +Willipraht qui traditionem fecit [...][!]

Diplomatics, the PhD, and Imposter syndrome

First, thanks to Historian on the Edge for answering my last question patiently, because it was not the smartest question ever. Still wondering about the historiography, though, and hoping that's not an obvious thing, too.

Well, I suppose it is, because I can always read the footnotes, but who keeps copies of Bresslau, et al., around the house? They aren't in my uni's library, either.

Anyway, I was thinking this morning a bit more about this whole diplomatics thing. Before I met my good friend at A Corner of Tenth Century Europe, I don't think I actually knew there was such a thing and that it had a name. I'd written a doctoral thesis for a committee that included someone who uses charters and all sorts of other legal documents, a Fellow of the MAA, and known for his work on disputes and land tenure (a bit), and I'd never heard of Diplomatics as a field. In fact, I don't think I knew that there was such a thing as a 'charter person' vel sim. I just happened to be using a single set of charters and a couple of sets of annals to talk about what they could tell us about Carolingian administration. On the way, I found that I couldn't do what I wanted to do without some understandings of onomastics (a word I didn't know, because in my head it was Namenkunde, whether Personen- or Orts-), so I read about leading names, and name-elements, and other such things. And of course, this led me to various prosopographical works (thank goodness I had already worked a bit with the PIR on a couple of papers in grad school, so the idea was not foreign to me), which I also read, used, and disagreed with at times. No really, there are bits of my thesis where I argue against both Borgolte and Mitterauer, for example.


Where am I going with this? Leeds. In the short term. I love going to Leeds. If I had to choose only one conference, that would be it. It is the conference with the highest concentration of cool and smart people who do what I want to do, and they do it really well. Leeds allows me to pretend that I'm good enough at what I do to fit in, and I love that my brain has to work really, really hard. It's the mental equivalent of a really good long bike ride or run through the woods. It makes me think I might even be able to survive a sabbatical semester amongst my UK colleagues, who are amongst the most generous people I know.

In the long term, though, Leeds scares the hell out of me. Every day is a day where I realize that there are things I have simply missed out on. Some of these things are easy to explain, I think. There are a lot of medievalists in the UK, and it's a small enough place that scholars regularly meet and present their work to each other at seminars. There are such things in the US, but we're pretty spread out. When I was an undergrad at Beachy U, there were regular visits by scholars who gave papers, and I know that such things happen in the US in places where there are enough medievalists to have regular seminars -- places like LA, and the Bay Area, and places like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, etc. But my grad school wasn't so advantageously located. I also think I wasn't really acculturated in a way that I understood that this was what people did -- I went to such seminars and talks as were available because someone told undergraduate me I was supposed to -- but not that they served a function other than being interesting, yet somewhat passive, activities.

I know, right?

I am not sure how much of this was me being obtuse. As a postgraduate student, I largely saw research and writing as evils necessary to getting a teaching position. I think maybe this is because I never really saw my professors as scholars. They didn't really talk about it much, in the sense of process, or why they loved it, and they were all fantastic teachers. My PhD program required that we undergo teacher training, and that we teach lecture courses of our own. It was great training, and definitely played a huge part in my being employed, but it also helped to create a situation where the immediate needs of students took precedence over my research for the very beginning. I was good at teaching, and the rewards were immediate. Research, not so much.

Why not? Well, because I had no idea what I was doing. My thesis advisor is mostly an archaeologist. People still raise their eyebrows when I tell them who I worked with, because Late Antiquity is not necessarily Early Medieval, and the sorts of things that Doktorvater does are really nothing like what I do. But he and I bonded when I went to Grad U, and because of a set of freak occurrences, there was no one else to work with at the time I began to work on my thesis. We hired Fellow of MAA shortly thereafter, but I was always intimidated by him, and never had a conversation with him where I didn't feel like a complete idiot. Many years later, I realized he doesn't make eye contact with anyone, and just approaches things very different to how I do. But at the time, I couldn't see working with him. So I put together a prospectus, defended it, got a DAAD, and went off to Germany, where the only person I knew was another Late Antiquarian. He introduced me to medievalists on the faculty, but mostly, I hid and worked by myself.

I wrote my PhD in a vacuum, more or less. At first I was connected to the university, but I didn't really make friends, and felt pretty much isolated. None of the people I knew worked on anything related to what I was doing. Then I started dating X, and somehow my ties to people at the university were replaced by his friends. There was my advisor, but no connection really to "here are things happening in our field that you should know about." The more physically isolated I was, the worse my Imposter Syndrome got -- and the grounds for it seemed to be more and more realistic. The PhD finally was finished, signed off, complete -- not that it mattered, because I'd left academia at that point.

Except, of course, it turns out I didn't. I just spent a few years adding to the huge gaps in my knowledge and picking up bits of what I missed like a magpie attracted to the shiny. I expect I'm not the only person out there who has had experiences like mine, but for me, it's been really disconcerting to talk about what I do and have other people understand it and be able to give me advice. It's probably not a bad thing to have approached things as I have -- no preconceived notions, after all! And I think if I'd thought of myself as a charter person, or a diplomatics person, I'd have turned out very differently. Even now, I think of myself as a social and political historian who uses charters a lot, although the amount I think about methodology might indicate a diplomatists lurking in the shadows.

It's lurking there along with the Imposter Syndrome. Even though I am again, or still, working in relative isolation, it's at least no longer a vacuum. Now it's a balancing act: engagement, even over the internet, allows a feeling of membership in the community; membership in a community where everybody else knows so damned much* might let the imposter out of the shadows.

*and yes, I do realize that spending my time having to keep up with teaching all the non-US history my department offers (i.e., the whole world from Harappan culture till now) gives me breadth that takes away from the depth my impressive colleagues have. Doesn't make me feel less dumb, though :-)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Diplomatics, whether or not I want 'em

So I found some cool stuff on Google books today. Unfortunately, it's all 19th C German legal scholarship, which means I have no idea how useful it really is. On the one hand, it offers very clear interpretations of some of the stuff I've wondered about for a long time. On the other, I have no idea if it's correct or not (in terms of what we now understand). But there was a nice explanation of per manum clauses (once I figured out what some of the German words were), and now I just have to figure out if these were things that the early diplomatics people would have looked at.

Speaking of which, did you know that Breßlau worked with Heinrich von Trotschke for a while? I think this in part reaffirms my belief that we really can't trust ANY early German diplomatics scholarship entirely -- there's just always the lingering spectre of circular nationalistic reasoning. For example, there's the understanding of "national" law codes as being real exemplars of the values of particular people that obviously may be partially true, but is also now understood within the context of Carolingian meddling policy, I think? Or am I imagining that?

But really, what I meant to say was this:

how separable are praecarium and usufruct? That is, I understand how one could grant the latter without the former, and that sort of makes sense. I understand how one could grant the former without the latter, but it seems to me to be pointless. More importantly, I wonder how easy it was to keep such things straight among all the players.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Yes, I do...

Have a towel, and know where it is.

Have a hard-boiled egg.

Am not wearing lilacs, 'cos I wasn't there.

(I think I've got it covered...)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

So it's not just me and Historian on the Edge, then...

Apparently, Mark Lind at thinks even less of Ferguson than I do.

Just for starters, Lind asks, "What accounts for the attention lavished by the American media on a huckster as vulgar and shallow as Niall Ferguson?"

Later, he tells us a little of what he really thinks: "...Niall Ferguson has the moral imagination of a teenage boy addicted to gruesome video games."

I think he's wrong about Fritz the Cat, though. Unless Ferguson really said that. But I'm giving Ferguson some credit here, and will assume the cat in question ia Felix.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A bleg about tools and toys and software

Hello, all --

So, like many people, I'm thinking about eventually getting an iPad. I have been at a couple of conferences lately and just think it would be so much easier not to lug a full-sized computer around when I travel. I'd really like it to be usable even for extended trips -- for example, is it enough computer to take to the UK for six weeks? Or would I need to take my macbook, but still only carry the iPad to the BL to work? (and of course I now need to check and find out if the stories of abused iPad manufacturing workers in China are true...

No, I can't really afford one, but we can use our research allotment towards it, which I think would be better than trying to justify one on my taxes. Far easier to explain why I need professional memberships and journals.

Anyway, so the first questions are:

Is it really a good tool?
How much memory is the minimum I need?
How much can it replace my heavier computer?

But also... and these are more important questions:

Can I use it to duplicate my current workflow?

Can I use it to re-create the workflow I want?

Because here is the thing -- I like to take notes by hand, but I like the organization of programs like zotero. Zotero only runs with Firefox, which I can use on a mac, but not on an iPad. Sente seems to do much of the same, so that's a possibility on the organizational end.

But what I would love to do, and what would absolutely sell me on an iPad, is to be able to take notes on the iPad with a stylus (no problems with bringing pens into the BL!!) and then drag them into the note management software. It's clear that scrivener will not be available, but Apple has at least made a version of Pages for the iPad, so writing can be done -- but the research still has to be somewhere.

So people, what do you think? Is it possible to do what I want? What software do you recommend?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Online Writing Group: Watch this Space

Stolen shamelessly from Notorious, PhD...

Online Writing Group: WATCH THIS SPACE!
Notorious and I are closing in on starting the writing group. We were supposed to have an announcement, CFP up this morning, but as I said in my reply to her e-mail (entitled "itotallyfuckingforgot"): "eyeballs, alligators, etc."

Like Strunk & White, I am (apparently) a fan of brevity.

So, we're batting a real opening announcement back and forth over the course of the day, and it will be cross-posted later tonight or perhaps tomorrow (or even tomorrow's tomorrow), at which point you can see if it will work for your needs right now, and sign up. First "Term" will begin next Friday. If it doesn't work for you right now, don't worry: another one will be along in the fall.

Watch this space!

Friday, May 20, 2011

St Gall Plan Project Job

Please repost as appropriate.

Manuscripts Specialist (Staff Research Associate III)

Under the direction of the project's Principal Investigator Professor Patrick Geary and the Project Manager Dr. Julian Hendrix, the Research Associate will be responsible for directing and performing archival and library research, and for identifying and analyzing the linguistic, orthographic, paleographic and textual features of some 168 medieval manuscripts for the research project "Creation of Virtual Libraries of the Carolingian Monasteries of St. Gall and Reichenau." Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this project will make accessible online digital images, descriptions, and contextual data of ninth-century manuscripts from libraries at St. Gall and Reichenau. The Research Associate will assist the Project Manager with the development of XML templates and user interfaces for the project's manuscript website. The Research Associate will also assist the Project Manager in creating descriptions and indices of the manuscripts' contents as well as be responsible for writing thematic essays highlighting significant elements of the manuscript collection for publication on the project website.

Candidates must have a PhD in some area of medieval studies and strong Latin and German, as well as extensive knowledge of Carolingian paleography and codicology, and experience working with early medieval manuscripts. Experience working with XML markup and web design is strongly preferred.

This is an eleven month (08/01/11 - 06/30/12), grant-funded position. In addition to completing the online application at (you can not be considered for the position without applying on-line), please send a copy of your letter of application (cover letter) and CV to the project PI, Professor Patrick Geary, by email to AND Project Manager Dr. Julian Hendrix, email jhendrix AT ucla DOT edu. Review of applications will begin immediately.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Training for the Dark Side?

From Kalamazoo to a workshop where I am supposed to be learning to be an administrator, my life takes me such wonderful places. Exciting! One day between, spent mostly marking with colleagues. More on that later, but let's just say that it helped to demonstrate why some colleagues are so adamant that double-marking is a bad thing.

In between, I've been becoming ever more conscious of what it means to be an introvert. For example, it's pretty late, and I am finally winding down enough to sleep -- and I have to be up early to lead a discussion. So tired. But can't wind down.

But enough of that.

I'm learning the ways of the Dark Side. Mostly, I'm learning about my colleagues and myself, and how we take different things away. For example, a colleague in another department went to a similar workshop and came back with a new and enlarged chip on hir shoulder. What zie learned was that other low-level administrators all had it better than their colleagues at SLAC, and that SLAC sucks. It doesn't, as it happens.

What I have learned so far is that SLAC is pretty weak in procedures and a few other things. Also, I've been able to listen to other people and it's helped to re-set my reality scale. It's been nice to hear so many non-SLAC stories, most of which are not about dysfunctional departments and divisions. Some are, and I think it's not all sunshine and roses out there: too many heads nod when someone tells a story that sounds painfully familiar. I've also learned a lot of things about data, how universities function, and how, even though department and division chairs at SLAC have very little power, we are given so much more information than many of our colleagues. That information is something that, if you can make sense of it, can itself be somewhat empowering. Or maybe it's just me -- when I understand things, I feel much more secure! There have been frightening moments, though. I am far better at understanding the big picture than I like. I don't think departmentally; I think institutionally much more often.

Midway through a session today I was reminded of how many medievalists I know who are really very good at administration. And since it was well into day two, and my mind was wondering, I started thinking about the pedagogy panel at the Zoo, and how a colleague there reminded the rest of us that, where our modernist and Americanist colleagues' specialties are generally no broader than 50-75 years in one place, medievalists are expected to specialize in a thousand years, and at east 2-3 geographical areas. On top of that, we have the killer arsenal of mad skills. Sure, we tend to focus our research a bit more, but when we teach, we teach a LOT of content, comparatively speaking. Moreover, the content we teach is not just "history" -- we include literature and art and material culture -- lots of stuff. I wonder if there is a connection between our interdisciplinary training and an ability to look beyond our very narrow fields/departments/divisions. Or not. Just a thought. Anyway, it was interesting to hear the stories of colleagues and also to hear the occasional shock at some of the suggestions made in some discussions: one colleague seemed to say that hir program generally wrote job ads so that hir school's graduates would be the best candidates for those jobs. There were gasps, too, when I suggested that perhaps a way to deal with grade appeals was to ask someone else to take a copy of the rubric and the exam or paper and have them regrade. Threats to autonomy, dontcha know...

Wonder what I'll learn tomorrow..

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Kalamazoo, day the last

Will blog about the middle later, but here are the highlights:

  • Hanging out with colleagues from my state, who are now discussing a regular video-seminar
  • Hearing about the 'horses in mud' paper
  • Celebrating with my colleague from SLAC and my friends from other places
  • Wonderful time talking to people at the dance last night
  • Finding out that someone I thought hated me probably doesn't
  • Learning how to teach about early Christianity from Walter Goffart
  • Finding out that Goths don't always have moustaches and Romans often do
  • Bees! Hymns to bees! Bees are monks, because they are virgins
  • Did you know that Venetians were using surnames comparatively early?
  • We need to rethink masculinity and take masculine studies away from the feminist paradigm; and think about the somatic rather than the discourse
eta: Also, loved the announcement that a rather well-known early medievalist was not chairing his session because he was in a boxing bout.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Zoo, day One

Arrived to find presents waiting for me! Also, had good trip, fun with the Director, my colleague and roommate. Split up for separate dinners. On way back to hotel, found that our confirmed double was a king. Bastards. No other rooms. Nasty letter sent to Discovery Kalamazoo re WTF?


Also, corrigenda shows that Thursday evening session cancelled. Yay! Friend's paper now across from other friend's paper. Boo.

Also, kind of had to tell a colleague I like no to dinner because I had plans. Normally, I like to invite more people, but this is someone I only see in person once a year, and we like to talk about real-friend stuff that we can't talk about in front of colleagues. Boo. But yay for dinner with friend I love.

Tomorrow morning? Bernhard at 10:00 for Paul Kershaw's paper.

With luck, maybe a better room on the morrow?

Monday, May 09, 2011

Alternate Kalamazoo Thursday Dinner

Well, it looks like there is a Thursday p.m. talk I want to go to -- a couple of papers on things Fulda-ish, including Albrecht Diem talking about Lul (I think). So I think I will likely ditch the EM dinner. Anybody want to join me?

UPDATE: I may not be able to cancel the EM dinner plan after all, unless someone is willing to take my seat. I don't really want to pay for a meal I don't eat, and I'm not willing to stick the organizer with my costs.

Fingers crossed there are more people who want to go but haven't arranged.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Anecdotal History

I'm working on a paper that is likely to be a few days late in getting to the respondent (REALLY, REALLY sorry about that!). It's ostensibly on what we can see in some charters about step- relations. This has been made more difficult by the fact that I can't find the notebook that had my notes that I used for the abstract. Go me. Anyway, some things occurred to me today that I need to jot down, and here seemed as good a place as any. As I've been working, I've been worrying about whether or not the abstract and the paper will match up at all. Fortunately, whatever I write will still fit within the parameters of the session, so that panic is off.

So anyway, I might not find as much as I'd like on stepmother-stepdaughter relationships. I can stretch that to talk about stepmother-stepson relationships, and in fact I think I need to talk about those if only because most of the high-profile stepmother stories from the Carolingian period are royal and stepmother-stepson. This morning, though, I realized that I can't recall all that many mother-daughter (or mother-son) relationships in my documents. I should mention here that I am using relationships in two ways: the first is the obvious one, evidence of any familial connection; the second is the one that we infer from donations made on behalf of others. It has long been posited, and I think that this is largely correct, that donating property on the behalf of another is to some extent evidence of affection. I think that duty is perhaps also a reason, but really that is unlikely if the person for whom the donation is made is dead. I am also now wondering, though, if donating for a third party is also a way of mediating disputes or securing an uncontested release of property, i.e., "I know that my relatives really want to get their hands on this, and they are going to fight about it when I'm gone. Even though I have made provisions for this in the charter, in that they can pay a whopping sum to the monastery to get the land back, they're a bunch of greedy bastards and I don't really want that to happen. So I'm also going to put their names on it. This will put them in a position where they will really look bad if they try to regain that property."

Maybe. I'm not entirely sure I haven't read bits of that before, but will need to look that up. At any rate, I think that there needs to be some comparison to the charters in which people make donations for their mothers as well.

But anyway, it seems to me that the paper will be better if I contrast the mother vs stepmother cases. Which is probably obvious to most of you, but I tend to forget such things. In fact (and this is something that I have really got to get over) I'm like a magpie when it comes to research, going for the shiny and not thinking about framing it nearly as well as I should. Part of this is that I tend to do research only when I can concentrate on it, which is in the summer. This is really not ideal, and I must figure out how to change that, even if it only means keeping up with reading through the academic year. In years like this one, where I teach nothing medieval at all, it's especially important to make time to do this. If it weren't for blogs, I'd be absolutely lost, and most of you know I've been crap at keeping up this year. Another part may be that I am, apparently, a mental magpie, or Doug, the dog in Up, whose attention is completely taken over by the random appearance of a squirrel. Don't know if I mentioned it, but apparently, I have ADHD (inattentive). Knowing this does make me more conscious of looking for solutions and coping mechanisms, rather than beating myself up over being a magpie, at least.

What does this have to do with anecdotal history? Well, it also occurred to me this morning that I seem to be stuck in a pattern of finding cool anecdotes to write about. They are the sorts of things that fit in well with my teaching and service load, as well as my tendency to follow the shiny. I don't think they lack value, either. In fact, I think that anecdotes are what make what we do accessible to non-historians and help to demonstrate one of the real values of studying history: historians look at people, and try to understand people and why they did what they did -- and to me, this sort of inquiry is immediately valuable and transferable to how we approach our own world.

Having said that, I also want to make a concerted effort to make my anecdotes more meaningful to other historians, to add more to the larger conversation. In the meantime, I suppose I can continue honing my skills at asking awkward questions. :-)

Saturday, May 07, 2011

What possessed me...?

... to work with stuff like this? Seriously, 8th C land transactions? What the HELL was I thinking? Every summer, I start to read these, and every summer, I think, "it's bad enough you decided to be a medievalist. It's bad enough you decided to be an Early Medievalist. It's bad enough that you decided to be a dime-a-dozen Carolingianist. But really, did you have to choose to read stuff like this and then get a job where you don't get a chance to practice your Latin during the year???"

This is why:

In Christi nomine ego itaque ultimus exiguusque dei servorum famulus Matto sed et ego nuncius fidelis Othelm diligenter devotus in elimosinam Iulianae dei famulae et abbatissae pro remedio animae suae ipsa mihi manu potestativa ex iure proprietatis suae in Uuangheimero marcu tradiderat. similiter et ego Matto in supra dicto loco ubi supra dicta Iuliana soror mea totum et integrum s. Bonafacio per manum Othelmes tradiderat ita et ego in villa eadem portione et ex illa quantitate quantum mihi ibidem adjacet proprietatis sicut aliis testibus perpluribus cognitum est ita et ego Matto supra dicto loco in elimosinam meam et fratris mei Megingoz et eorum quibus debitor sum sicut et illa supra dicta Iuliana soror mea per manum supra dicti Othelmes sic trado quicquid ad meam pertinet proprietatem totum et integum sic et ille Othelm nos simul trademus sicut supra dictum est in Wangheimero marcu id est illam ecclesiam et monasteriolum constructum cum illis sanctorum reliquiis et cum omni proprietate id est tam terris silvis campis pratis pascuis aquis aquarumque decursibus aedificiis domibus arialis coloniis qualiter et quomodo heredatum a parentibus et a nobis elaboratum aut exquisitum sit peculiari utriusque sexu [I think] mobilibus et immobilibus quicquid dici aut nominari queat et haec mancipia quorum haec sunt [big-ass list of mancipia]

You know, I have enough trouble making sense of this sort of stuff in current legal English. Now Latin is making me feel dumb.