Interesting Announcement

February 22, 2011

Dr. Richard Nokes contacted me today to tell me about his latest project. In addition to his position at Troy, Dr. Nokes, of Unlocked Wordhoard fame, is the Academic Editor of the new Witan Publishing house. Witan Publishing is an academic, peer-reviewed e-publishing site. Their goal is to publish pieces of top quality scholarship. You can find the official announcement at both the Wordhoard and Dr. Nokes tells me that they are especially interested in those works of scholarship that might not fit traditional publishing parameters. Pieces longer than a journal article, but rather too short for a monograph. The website is:

I would suspect that this is not just an opportunity for established scholars and I, for one, will definitely submit something in the near future. This sounds like a promising endeavour. Best of Luck from the Herald, Dr. Nokes!


Tolkien the unappreciated.

February 11, 2011

Reading the Washington Post today, I came across this interesting tidbit:

The article is about Tolkien scholar Corey Olsen, a professor at Washington College. It is a good piece overall and very interesting. But (there had to be one) I wonder about something. The article makes it seem like very few medievalists take Tolkien studies seriously. Now, granted, those of us on the history side may wonder about the utility of studying a twentieth century author under the “medieval” guise, but, hey, to each their own. Medievalisms looks to be a growing, vibrant field right now, and chock full of potential material. It seems like a good fit. How many of us were fans of epic fantasy before we fell in love with the Middle Ages? I know I was. Besides, any author so influenced by medieval literature deserves a second look. But I digress. As I said above, the article makes it seem like studying Tolkien is academia’s cardinal sin. Apparently, no one ever pointed out to the author the number of Tolkien sessions a Kalamazoo every year, sponsored by the Tolkien at Kalamzoo organization, no less. Six last year. I noticed that last year Dr. Olsen participated in two roundtables devoted to Tolkien as well as a reader’s theater session on Malory. He is not in this year’s program, but maybe he will come anyway to sample the six or seven Tolkien sessions. Troubling, though, that bit about Tolkien being unpopular. At least it won’t seem that way in May in Kalamazoo. Now, Harry Potter on the other hand…;-)

Six months? Criminy, I should really post something!

February 9, 2011

Back again. Eventful few months spent teaching, writing, researching and getting paid to do a couple of other projects. Getting paid to do history feels good, even if, in my case, it is U.S. history. So, here we go. I am looking forward to the release of Richard Hodges “New Audit” of his Dark Age Economics, if, that is, it ever actually comes out. Robin Fleming’s new one, Britain After Rome, at least I believe that’s the title, is also on my must read list. Jonathan Jarrett at Tenth-Century Europe reported on one of Dr. Fleming’s recent presentations with good results.

Cool newish blog!

August 20, 2010

Summer is almost over, so I need to get back to blogging. I have not forgotten the third (very,very late) installment on the IMC book stalls and I also have an interesting post in the works over pre-Augustinian Frankish Christianity in Kent. That said, I want to point out that a personal hero of mine finally has a blog. Well, he has had it since January, I just did not find out til now. Anyway I ask you to check out Guy Halsall’s blog!

The Book Exhibit: The Business Behind the Scenes, Pt. the First

May 20, 2010

     “I just spent waaayyyy too much money” is probably the most often heard phrase outside the book stalls. This is usually closely follwed by “I have no idea how I am going to get all of these home.” This is not surprising given the proximity of a large (3000+) population of academics, all specializing in a variety of medieval disciplines and all starved for instant access to the latest that their fields have to offer. After all, it is not like we can just mosey into our local Barnes and Noble to pick up the latest Ashgate book. For four days each year, we have the opportunity to browse, pick, and purchase from a person, not a computer or catalog. Further, unless the publisher only brought display copies with which to take orders, we get to take it right there and then…and, in this era of instant gratification, begin reading immediately. Every year, I am invariably jostled by someone walking down a hall, nose buried in a book, just purchased. To be honest, I guess I’ve done my fair share of jostling as well.

     The lure of the stalls is social as well as intellectual. For grad students like myself, the exhibit gives us a chance, second only to the wine hour, to screw our courage to the sticking place and actually approach some of our academic idols. Indeed, the stalls often seem like a sort of walking bibliography. “Hey, there goes fn 7 from chapter 3!” Lunches are arranged, plans made, and many people, who only see each other once a year, spend quality time together searching the stacks and catching up on the previous year. How easy it is to lose oneself at, say, Boydell and Brewer or Cambridge Uni. Press, chatting away, coffee in hand, reveling in the company of like minded folk, gossiping, arguing, and shopping. Mostly shopping…

    Next time: The Book Exhibit: The Business Behind the Scenes, Pt. the Second- The Art of the Book Deal!

Books and Blogging Royalty…A Peasant’s Adventure in Michigan.

May 17, 2010

    Recovering from a ten-hour drive through four states and two time zones is probably not the best time to start reflecting on this year’s International Medieval Congress, but I had such an exciting time that I’ll give it a go. I know I promised you a “book report,” and you shall have one…later…after I find my notes and put them in a semblance of order.

    Now for the blogging royalty part of the show. I finally got to meet some of (you, hopefully) the bloggers who continue to inspire, challenge, and entertain me. Let me tell you, they are a great group of people! Jonathan Jarrett, of Tenth-century Europe fame, made a rare appearance across the pond and delivered a great paper on charters (surprise!), Visigothic law and its influence on Carolingian rule. Did I mention that he is also an incredibly nice person? His kind words of encouragement are very much appreciated!

   I also got to meet the mysterious ADM, from whose blog I have learned much about the inner workings of academia. As reticent as I was at the blog meet, ADM made me feel welcome and a part of the community. A class act all the way around. I spent time with Dr. Nokes, he of the Wordhoard, a man who knows how to have fun ( and pull a good practical joke, eh Herr Doctor Allan?). Dr. Larry Swain also deserves my gratitude. I have had several email communications with him already, but it was a joy to meet him in person. I highly recommend that you read at least one of his several blogs! Truly a kind person. I would be remiss if I did not give a special shout out to Vaulting and Vellum! Now, you guys, get to work on a new post!!

    So, on to other matters that are “bound” to get your attention, books. I’m only going to offer a couple of comments here. The longer post is, as I said, forthcoming.

    I alluded in a previous post to the staggering array of books and sundries available at the zoo. This is still accurate, but the exhibit did seem smaller this year. I know that a couple of traditional exhibitors were forced to withdraw because of the volcano in Iceland. Dr. Catherine Cubitt was similarly delayed, and her thought-provoking paper was delivered by a pinch hitter. Powell’s books and OUP each had less stock than usual, and many people commented on the absence of the gentleman (I forget his name) who makes and sells the wax seal replicas. One hopes that both the volcano and the economy return to stability and all of these vendors can return.

    Next time, “The Book Exhibit: Business Behind the Scenes!” Please stay tuned!

Kalamazoo 2010

May 8, 2010

    I know, I know, it has been a couple of months. I hope the two of you left out there can forgive me. This time of year, however, is very exciting to those of us who study the middle ages. It’s Kalamazoo time!! For those of you who don’t know, every May, over three thousand rabid medievalists get together in SE Michigan to network, present papers, drink, dance, renew old historical arguments, and generally soak up the vibes of being amongst a group of like minded friends. We also buy book. Lots of books. As in, many, many books. Those who don’t buy books, wish they could buy books.

    Some of my web friends will be blogging reports on their favorite sessions, covering the proceedings almost in real time. I will be doing some of that, but mainly, I want to blog on the book exhibit. Apart from an overview of the stalls, each day I will concentrate on a particular publisher or dealer, reporting on some of the newest publications. For those of you who haven’t yet experienced the glory that is the book exhibit, this will be an opportunity to see what you have been missing. For those of you who have, but for some reason haven’t made it to the ‘zoo this year, this will be a reminder of why you need to come back next year. In addition to “book reports” (Yes, terrible pun), I hope to have an interview or two with at least one of the leading bloggers in our field. Several will be there, it just depends on which one will agree to appear on a little seen, rural, no-frills blog. Anyway, the fun starts on Thursday, May 13! Stay tuned!

p.s. I will try to have pictures. As I am computer illiterate, it might be a feat.

Looking for some assistance.

February 21, 2010

Okay, I know that I haven’t posted in awhile and once again I can only cop a plea of busy. I have finally started writing my thesis. I have some posts in embryonic form, posts concerning Merovingian hegemony over Kent, trade, and how frequently people really travelled across the Channel in the seventh century. Til then, however, I have a request. Does anyone have or have access to a copy of D. Whitelock, R. McKitterick, and D. Dumville (eds), Ireland in Early Medieval Europe: Studies in Memory of Kathleen Hughes (Cambridge, 1982)? Speciffically, I am looking for a copy of Edward James’ essay, “Ireland and Western Gaul in the Merovingian Period.” I will gladly pay P&H for even an abstract of the essay. I have checked Inter-library Loan and Athena. No luck so far. Help me Obi-Wan Medievalist, you’re my only hope…

Happy Xma…oh, sorry I’m a bit late, I was Holmes for the holiday!

January 5, 2010

Ah, at last, the holidays are over. Between the holidays and last semester, (busy, busy, busy) I have been neglecting my blog. I am back, however, and ready to post more frequently. I finished my coursework so now I prepare for comps and thesis writing, but this post concerns my other passion, Sherlockiana. I saw the new movie on Xmas day quite prepared for severe disappointment. I was. Disappointed, that is. I am something of a purist when it comes to Sherlock (and Shakespeare, for that matter), so I was duly alarmed to find him solving problems with his fists and not his brains. I am well aware of Sherlock’s amateur flirtations with “the sweet science,” and was willing to give Guy Ritchie the benefit of the doubt, yet Holmes is known for, Holmes IS, the personification of intellectual investigation. Sure, we saw bits and pieces of his method, including his summation, but the method should be the center piece of the story, not an afterthought.  I thought, though, that the dynamic between Holmes and Watson was interesting. Still a little confused over Irene Adler. Why exactly was she there? She did not play any significant role in moving the story along. I guess, in the end, Hollywood had to find some love interest for Holmes. All in all, it wasn’t a truly horrible film, just mildly so. The plot was vague and comic bookish. Much better, I think, to dive into a new series published by Titan Books called “The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.” Not a very original name for the series, I know, but if the volume I read is any indication, this series promises to be stimulating. So far, Titan has released seven or eight adventures, written by such Sherlockian luminaries as Daniel Stashower, H. Paul Jeffers, and David Stuart Davies. Some of the books have been previously published, but, as most are either out of print or printed by small houses, making them difficult to track down, this series should be a fine way to discover some old (and new) hidden gems.  Davies’  “The Veiled Detective” sets forth a much more convincing, and disturbing, alternative Holmes origin than the new film, and at 9 dollars it won’t cost as much. Back soon with a new mystery, ” The Case of the Seventh Century Trade Route!”

Hello…again: A (brief) dispatch from the land of the ultra-busy.

November 8, 2009

I do apologize for the absence. I am teaching some this semester, first time on a regular basis, and my own grad classes are keeping me on my toes. Quite the semester, so far, but hopefully I can post more regularly.  Anyway, I know that everyone has had some time to digest something of the ramifications of the Staffordshire find. I know that somewhere, someone has probably posed this question, but I have had as much time to read the blogs as write one, so I will pose it for my own gratification. What, after all, could we stand to learn from the hoard? I doubt we can learn anything about gender relations, for instance, because of the total lack of feminine related items. Trade? Possibly, if we can identify origins for some of the artifacts. Even here, though, we have no way of finding out the mechanism which brought that artifact to Britain and even then, if we do not know to whom the artifact belonged in the first place, we cannot give it any context. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I know we will be studying this find for generations to come, but perhaps the idea that this find would completely rewrite A-S history was a bit of exuberant hyperbole? Still, it will be awfully fun to play with!