I am grateful to The Richard Rawlinson Center for Anglo-Saxon Studies and Manuscript Research at Western Michigan University for awarding the 2018 Paul E. Szarmach Prize to my article, "Hybrid Forms: Translating Boethius in Anglo-Saxon England."
The Szarmach Prize "consists of an award of $500 to the author of a first article in the field of Anglo-Saxon studies published in a peer-reviewed scholarly journal that is judged by the selection committee to be of outstanding quality."
My co-edited volume with Daniel C. Remein, Dating Beowulf: Studies in Intimacy, is now under contract with Manchester University Press. Featuring essays from some of the most prominent voices in Old English studies, Dating Beowulf playfully redeploys the word “dating”—which usually heralds some of the most divisive critical impasses in the field—to instead direct critical attention to questions of intimacy, affect, and erotics. This volume presents an argument for the relevance of the early Middle Ages to affect studies and vice-versa, offering a riposte to antifeminist discourse in early medieval studies and opening avenues for future work by specialists in the history of emotions, literary theorists, students of Old English literature, and medieval scholars alike. To this end, the essays embody a range of critical approaches, from queer theory to animal studies and ecocriticism to Actor-network Theory, all organized into clusters that articulate new modes of intimacy with the poem. Here's a preview of the table of contents:
Dating Beowulf: Studies in Intimacy
Edited by: Daniel C. Remein and Erica Weaver
Daniel C. Remein, University of Massachusetts, Boston and Erica Weaver, Harvard University
Beowulf in Public
Communal Joy and the Intimacy of Narrative in Beowulf
Benjamin A. Saltzman, The University of Chicago
Beowulf and the Intimacy of Large Parties
Roberta Frank, Yale University
Beowulf as Wayland’s Work: Thinking, Feeling, Making
James Paz, University of Manchester
Beowulf at Home
Beowulf and Babies
Donna Beth Ellard, University of Denver
At Home in the Fens with the Grendelkin
Chris Abram, University of Notre Dame
Elemental Intimacies: Agency in the Finnsburg Episode
Mary Kate Hurley, Ohio University
What the Raven Told the Eagle: Animal Language and Interspecies Connections in Beowulf
Mo Pareles, University of British Columbia
Beowulf’s Contact List
Men Into Monsters: Troubling Race, Ethnicity, and Masculinity in Beowulf
Catalin Taranu, University of Bucharest
Sad Men in Beowulf
Robin Norris, Carleton University
Differing Intimacies: Beowulf Translations by Seamus Heaney and Thomas Meyer
David Hadbawnik, American University in Kuwait
Beowulf in Bed
Beowulf and Andreas: Intimate Relations
Irina A. Dumitrescu, University of Bonn
Beowulf, Bryher, and the Blitz: A Queer History
Peter Buchanan, New Mexico Highlands University
Dating Wiglaf: Emotional Connections to the Young Hero in Beowulf
Mary Dockray-Miller, Lesley University
"Wandering Minds: Medieval Distraction, Daydreaming, and Noonday Demons" at Kalamazoo 2018
I just learned that two sessions I proposed have been accepted for the 93rd Annual Meeting of The Medieval Academy of America, which will take place in Atlanta next March. I am really looking forward to both:
Chaired By: Leslie Lockett, Associate Professor of English and Associate Director of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Ohio State University
“Cloister, Wasteland, Sea: Reimagining the English Landscape as the Grounds of Monastic Practice”
Audrey Walton, Assistant Professor of English, University of Toronto
“Behind Scriptorium Walls: Site-Specific Poetics in Late Anglo-Saxon Winchester”
Erica Weaver, PhD Candidate in English, Harvard University
“Bede and the Poetics of Death in Early Anglo-Saxon England”
Jill Hamilton Clements, Assistant Professor of English, University of Alabama at Birmingham
Schoolroom Drama: Scripting, Trading, and Performing Knowledge
Chaired By: Jan Ziolkowski, Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Medieval Latin and Director of the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Harvard University
“The Performance of Emotions in Donatus’ Commentary on Terence”
Irina Dumitrescu, Junior Professor of English Medieval Studies, The University of Bonn
“Staging ‘School Choice’ in Coventry’s Weavers’ Pageant”
Helen Cushman, PhD Candidate, Harvard University
“Weird Science: The Book of Sydrac and Encyclopedic Learning in the Later Middle Ages”
Emily Steiner, Professor and Associate Chair of English, University of Pennsylvania
My article, "Hybrid forms: Translating Boethius in Anglo-Saxon England" is now available in Anglo-Saxon England 45 (2017): 213–38.
Here's the opening:
Bede’s Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum contains what is undoubtedly the most famous surviving story of an Anglo-Saxon poet, the illiterate cowherd Cædmon, whose divine inspiration is supposed to have initiated a new strain of vernacular, Christian poetry, and who continues to provoke an unending series of questions about Anglo-Saxon poetic communities. But Bede’s history also contains a less famous anecdote about a poet, just as illuminating for Anglo-Saxon conceptions of genre and translation. In his discussion of the works of Aldhelm, abbot of Malmesbury and later bishop of Sherborne (d. 709), Bede comments on the form of the De virginitate, which consists of a Latin treatise in prose paired with an accompanying poem in quantitative verses – one of the first to be written by an Anglo-Saxon.
I was just looking up some architectural details on Google Books, and I noticed that Sian Echard and Robert Rouse, ed., The Encyclopedia of Medieval Literature in Britain (Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2017) is now out and looks like a great resource. I was happy to write two short entries, on glossaries and the Benedictional of St. Æthelwold, on my flight back from a research trip to the UK last summer.
Wandering Minds: Medieval Distraction, Daydreaming, and Noonday Demons
Georg Simmel, Jonathan Crary, and others have delineated the politics of time for a networked world, noting that increasing mechanization has given birth to an age of distraction. Indeed, the notion of “distraction” as an affect uniquely cultivated by modernity has produced its own micro-industry in accounts of the tech boom and its aftermath, and in many ways, “distraction” has become a catchphrase for the condition of modernity and postmodernity writ large. The term has also become an important aesthetic category in studies of nineteenth-, twentieth-, and twenty-first century literature. This panel locates a similarly fraught mobilization of distraction in medieval literature, which likewise sought to shape attentive identities in a world governed by diversions. At the same time, this panel asks how we should define medieval distraction. Is it an affect, a pathology, a demonic temptation, or, worse, possession? And how does distraction relate to curiosity, incredulity, and wonder? Do these distinctions operate differently in school texts, poems, romances, and dramatic works? Moreover, what were the penalties for distraction, and what measures could medieval authors, preachers, and teachers take against inspiring boredom?
Papers might address a wide variety of topics, perhaps including scribal curses on inattentive readers, medieval theories of cognition and meditation, liability in penitentials and legal discourse, demonology, digression, boredom, and daydreaming.
Please send 250-word abstracts to:
(Master of the Ingeborg Psalter, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Ms. 66, fol. 56)
We were thrilled to receive the proofs for The Legacy of Boethius in Medieval England: The Consolation and its Afterlives from ACMRS today. The book is due out early next year, and it's really exciting to see it reach this stage.
Featuring essays by scholars of Old English, Anglo-Latin, and Middle English, The Legacy of Boethius argues for a reassessment of the medieval English Boethian tradition as a 600-year continuum in reading and readership, surveying the Old English Boethius together with Chaucer’s Boece and a host of understudied interlocutors for the first time in a volume of this kind.
Here's the opening of my essay on "Finding Consolation at the End of the Millennium," which draws a connection between a fire, a letter, a manuscript, and a poem in order to reconstruct two potential trajectories of Boethius’s Latin text in the century after the Consolation was first translated into English:
On August 10, 974, a group of craftsmen put aside the new bell they had been casting for the church tower at Fleury, finished their work for the day, and went to bed. Over the door, they left a candle burning, giving in to their tired limbs and forgetting to extinguish the flame, which consumed the remaining wax, sputtered, and caught the nearby beds on fire. Soon the monastery was ablaze, the wind threatening to spread the conflagration to the nearby granary. Monks hurried into the church of St. Benedict, wrapped the relics in the altar cloth, and ran out again. And then the wind died. The ash settled. And the church, guesthouse, kitchen, and bakery emerged unsinged.
I'm excited to share the details for the panels I'm co-organizing for Kalamazoo 2017. We were thrilled to receive a number of fantastic abstracts:
The Legacy of The Cult of St. Swithun: In Honor of Michael Lapidge
Co-organized with Jennifer Lorden and Justin Park
Chair: Katherine O'Brien O'Keeffe (Professor and Clyde and Evelyn Slusser Chair in English, UC-Berkeley)
Co-organized with Patricia Dailey and Helen Cushman
Chair: Erica Weaver (ABD, Harvard University)
Luxurious Devotion, Literary Necessity
Co-organized with Jessica Brantley and Helen Cushman
Chair: Anna Kelner (PhD Student, Harvard University)
Academic Theft: A Roundtable
Co-organized with Damian Fleming, Lindy Brady, and Bre Leake
Chair: Bre Leake (ABD, University of Connecticut)