Sites and stories related to the pre-modern world
“An African Abbot in Anglo-Saxon England,” 27 Oct. 2016, British Library, by Alison Hudson @BLMedieval. On the fascinating and little known story of Hadrian, a “vir natione Afir” (i.e. a man from Africa). While on the subject, check out this article “Uncovering the African Presence in Medieval Europe” (27 Apr. 2017, The Public Medievalist, by Adam Simmons) which discusses an early 13th century account of “a king…whose skin was all black” in Constantinople and the glory of African Christian Kingdoms in pre-Renaissance times. And why not jump forward in time to the Tudors? “It’s Time to Talk about Black Tudors” by Rowena Mondiwa for Media Diversified.
Arts and Ideas BBC Radio 3: “Free Thinking: Martin Luther: fundamentalist reactionary or enlightened creator of our modern world?” 26 Feb. 2017, Anne McElvoy interviews Peter Stanford, Diarmaid MacCulloch, and Ulinka Rublack about Luther’s origins, struggles, and yes, even the state of his bowels (he blamed the Devil for his digestive troubles). Luther is the granddaddy of the Reformation and he lived his life as if he were a character in a Bosch painting. For those who simply need to know the timeline of the English Reformation, check this out: “Henry VIII and the Break with Rome Timeline” by History on the Net. In addition, why not listen to Philip Dodd’s interview on 6 Mar. 2017 of Sarah Dunant, Erica Benner, Gisela Stuart (an MP), and historian Catherine Fletcher on the impact and legacy of Machiavelli’s The Prince?
Casebooks | A Cambridge UP digital humanities project. From the site’s welcome page: “In the decades around 1600, the astrologers Simon Forman and Richard Napier produced one of the largest surviving sets of medical records in history. The Casebooks Project, a team of scholars at the University of Cambridge, has transformed this paper archive into a digital archive.”
Early English Playbooks (An Internet Archive Project) | This database needs a sexier title. It’s a collection of high-quality scans of original printed playtexts from Shakespeare’s time. Great resource for anyone who doesn’t have access to EEBO or who doesn’t want to bother with EEBO’s clunky platform.
Early Modern Female Book Ownership, or #HerBook | This lovely blog/website features pictures and bibliographical info of women’s book ownership to the 18th century.
Gateway to Early Modern Manuscript Sermons (GEMMS) | Manuscript sermons! Searchable. Wonderful.
“Images of cockatoo on 13th-century Vatican manuscript inspire trade route rethink” | This delightful article from The Guardian (25 June, 2018) explains how a 13th century manuscript depiction of the cockatoo helps scholars to reassess the standard timeline for the Australia-Europe global trade route. Or, to put it another way, the medieval period was way more global than we thought. Check it out for the delightful image of one of my favorite birds.
In the Middle | A blog devoted to medieval literary studies and its controversies. While you’re there, check out the page devoted to “On Race and Medieval Studies,” a stirring account of the whiteness of the medieval academy, not only in terms of the subjects that are studied (and hence represented in the classroom) but also in the public professional discourse of the field.
Medievalists of Color | A collective and a movement. Excellent.
Medieval and Early Modern Orients (MEMO) | A new database, beautifully designed by a team of experts, on medieval and early modern England’s many interactions–political, economic, and cultural–with the Islamic world.
“Nevertheless,” 8 Feb. 2017, LA Review of Books, by Jenny C. Mann | A fascinating and concise discussion of how a Renaissance (English) theorist of language (George Puttenham) helped to normalize the marginalization of female public via the definition of “parenthesis.”
On the Edge | High-resolution pictures of fore-edge paintings in the rare book collection of the Boston Public Library. What a marvelous site. If you’ve never heard of this eccentric practice of 18th and 19th century bibliophiles, who painted elaborate scenes on the edges of books, what are you waiting for?
People of Color in European Art, a Tumblr | I was introduced to this blog by a student (thanks Claire!) and I love it.
“Pointing the Finger, or A Handy Guide to Manicules” | How can one not love the pun? A short and concise blog entry (with pictures) on early modern marginalia.
!New! Shakespeare Association of America’s Anti-Racist Bibliography | A free and essential resource containing links and recommended readings.
Shakespeare Association of America’s Online Performances and Events Page | A curated and regularly updated list. Essential during these pandemic times of staying at home.
Shakespeare Documented | A wonderful Folger Shakespeare Library Digital Humanities project that brings together original documents by and about Shakespeare. Lovely high-quality images. A supplement to traditional handbooks on Shakespeare’s documented life.
Stationers’ Register Online | Searchable database–a great place to look for lost play texts, pamphlets, etc.
“Why Were Medieval Knights Always Fighting Snails?” by Colin Schultz, Smithsonian.com | Another link sent to me by a student (thanks Amy!). Just a charming, funny story on the ubiquity of snail images in Medieval manuscripts. If this is shaking up your whorl, check out Hunting for Snails, a whole blog devoted to Medieval snail art!!
Sites and stories about the profession of English studies
“‘The Great Shame of Our Profession‘: How the Humanities Survive on Exploitation,” 12 Feb. 2017, by Kevin Birmingham | After receiving the Truman Capote Award for literary criticism, Birmingham delivered this address. Timely, honest, and unexpectedly lyrical.
“What’s the Point of Academic Publishing?,” 24 Jan. 2014, by Sarah Kendzior | An apt summary of the pressures that academics face: publish or perish for specialists’ specialists.