by Mary Kate Hurley
(this post was written on 9/5/2013, a little over a week ago. The photo is one I took at Yale in Fall 2011.)
I’ve written – and rewritten – this blog post at least ten times in the past two years. It’s not because it’s a particularly hard blog post to write, but rather because it never felt like the story I wanted to tell was complete. Sitting in a plane somewhere between Ohio and California, looking down at the tops of the clouds and feeling like the world’s been turned over somehow, I’m beginning to realize that stories don’t come to a “finish” point. You stop following them, but they continue on in other forms, in ways you can’t quite expect.
It’s fitting that I’ve been returning to Nicholas Howe’s Writing the Map of Anglo-Saxon England in preparation for a conference paper I gave at Berkeley on the Tiberius B.v version of the Wonders of the East.* In his chapter on Cotton Tiberius B v and Cotton Vitellius A xv, Howe writes beautifully of the stories of geography that these manuscripts tell, the stories of “here and elsewhere.” Perhaps problematically, these stories of elsewhere have the “ultimate effect” of returning “you to a more complex understanding of home” (Howe, 191). A more nuanced reading of what that might mean, and what such a reading of the Wonders of the East would ultimately entail, is part of the work I did in that paper. But for now, I want to write about the places – metaphorical and literal – I’ve been for the past two years.
* Some will remember that my first contribution to this blog was on the occasion of Professor Howe’s passing in 2006.
** I should also take the time to say that I felt extraordinarily welcomed at all of the universities I taught at in the past two years – Barnard College and Rutgers University in particular. I write about Yale particularly because I spent so much time there in comparison to these other positions. But the faculty and most importantly the students at Barnard, Rutgers, and Cooper were all engaging, kind, and a pleasure to spend my time with.
*** A myriad of other names – friends and advisers at Columbia, many readers of this blog, my co-bloggers, friends at universities from NYU to Berkeley to Austin – also helped make the path less hard. Those names belong here too, those kindnesses recognized, though to do so in anything but this group format would take far too long, and leave far too many people out.