- I didn't know Karl very well when I read his animals essay for Exemplaria a few years back. At that point he and I had lunched together in Leeds, but otherwise were electronic acquaintances. His essay struck me as a major intervention into the rethinking of identities that has preoccupied medieval studies over the past decade. I stand by that judgment ... this is compelling work, Karl, and augurs for you being a molder of the field in the years ahead.
- A recent correspondence with Eileen has made me realize something -- or at least articulate an implicit knowledge. At this point in my life I've authored or edited or co-edited eight books and a circus of articles, book reviews, encyclopedia entries. All of that is fine; writing is something that I enjoy as much for process as product. Yet when I reflect upon what of importance I've accomplished in my career, it isn't this torrent of verbosity that comes first to mind, but instead the tangible way I've been able to touch the lives of others who write, and teach, and wonder: reviewing essays and books as an "anonymous" reader, for example, and being able to support projects that might otherwise not find the attention they deserve [do I need to remind any of our readers that we work in a cruel field, and that too often anonymous review -- like pseudonymous postings on the internet -- can bring out the very worst? Do scholars really need secret clubs?] I've also been asked to evaluate many tenure cases, a task that never seems a chore, because I know this process will likely have a lasting effect on medieval studies as some bright young-in-the-field scholar gets a job for life.
- For an independent study I'm leading, I've been re-reading Sharon Kinoshita's Medieval Boundaries: Rethinking Difference in Old French Literature. It's a great book, with lots to recommend, especially its savvy analyses of texts that once seemed familiar but end up quite transformed (Chanson de Roland as Crusade catalyst and re-writer of history rather than mere reflection of pre-existent reality; Marie de France's Welsh preoccupations). I wish, though, that when she discusses postcolonial medieval studies she would be more specific. Her introduction, for example, speaks about medieval postcolonialism in general, but mainly doesn't engage with particular works, other than to footnote them. This allows Kinoshita to make some wide characterizations and then differentiate her own project from this corpus ... a necessary move, perhaps, in order to sell a project. Yet I typically find such maneuvers unconvincing, mainly because it is often difficult to discover specific texts and critics who actually put forth the claims argued against. Kinoshita isn't the only one to do it: I'd put Bruce Holsinger, Ananya Kabir, and Deanne Williams on the list as well (this in no way devalues their work: all four of these people are excellent, excellent scholars). The medieval PoCo is a subfield that I'd like to think I'm well versed in, so here is my pet peeve exposed.
- Lastly, for your amusement, I reproduce below an electronic interchange that demonstrates why you should not allow your ten year old to open his own email account.
ALEX: u stink ur bad and mad in the brain!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Soon my family will revert to grunts and other inarticulate noises. Via email, of course ... and I must point out that my study and Alex's room are all of ten feet apart from each other, so why we were emailing such barbarisms to each other when we could have shouted them I have no idea.
ME: no U STINK and ur bad in the brain so there hahahahahaha
ALEX: sikes thats not true smart one (sarcastic laughter)