Thursday, April 19, 2018

2018 Paxson Grant Winners!


BABEL is delighted to announce the four winners of the 2018 James J. Paxson Memorial Travel Grant for Scholars of Limited Funds, generously co-sponsored by punctum books. The Paxson Grant supports scholars’ participation in the annual International Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo. This year’s winners are (in alphabetical order)

·      Micah Goodrich (University of Connecticut), to present “Piers Plowman’s Limbs” in the session Social Justice in the Piers Plowman Tradition
·      M. Breann Leake (University of Connecticut), to present “Authorizing White Identity through the Voice of the Snotera Engla Ðeode Lareow” in the session A Feminist Renaissance in Anglo-Saxon Studies I: Interdisciplinary/Extramural and “Authority and Advocacy in the Medieval Studies Classroom” in the session “Advocacy and Resistance”
·      Rachel McNellis (Case Western Reserve University), to present “A Labyrinthine Puzzle: Musical, Textual, and Visual Discourse in En la maison Dedalus” in the session Manuscript (Trans)formations: Transmission and Reception
·      Murrielle Michaud (Wilfrid Laurier University), to present “Woman Resurrected: The Lives and Deaths of Christina the Astonishing in Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Douce 114” in the session Holy Women Breaking Bonds: Roles, Gender, Authority

Check the ICMS program for presentation times and locations.

We received many, many strong applications this year, and the difficult decision among them was made by a committee of five judges: Heather Blatt (English, Florida International University), Joshua Eyler (Center for Teaching Excellence, Rice University), Shirin Fozi (History of Art and Architecture, University of Pittsburgh), Nicole Lopez-Jantzen (Social Sciences, Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY), and Mo Pareles (English, University  of British Columbia). Many thanks to these scholars for generously sharing their time and expertise.

We’d also like to thank the many donors who contributed to last year’s BABEL fundraiser. They – together with punctum books – made this year’s grants possible! Be on the look out for a new fundraising initiative from BABEL that will be kicking off this summer….

Please join us for a reception at #Kzoo2018, co-sponsored by BABEL and the Material Collective, where the winners of the Paxson grants will be recognized. It will be a fun happy hour on Thursday, May 10, at 5:15 pm in Fetzer 1045 – and everyone is invited!

Finally – BABEL is looking forward to sponsoring our annual evening at Bell’s Brewery, which will take place on Friday, May 11, starting at 9 pm. PLEASE NOTE: there will be somewhat fewer free drinks this year than the previous ones; we have $500 worth of drink-tickets reserved for non-tenure track / contingent faculty, graduate students, and self-identified members of the academic precariat. Come by circa 9pm to get yours! And of course, EVERYONE is welcome & encouraged to enjoy the evening.

(post composed by Julie Orlemanski and happily published here at her request)

Saturday, April 07, 2018

"I regret that our response must be disappointing."

by J J Cohen


"Of Giants reads like a hastily written dissertation hastily rewritten soon after graduation.  It might have been better in its original form -- or at least less sloppy ... The book contradicts its own generalizations with gay abandon ... His carelessness about his own ideas is echoed in a carelessness about the ideas of others ... What then is even the purpose of the book? It does not offer new scholarship (Cohen is in fact scrupulous in giving credit to scholars and critics  whose work he depends upon). It does not theorize a new function or significance for giants. It does not offer new readings of either canonical or underrated medieval texts. It does not set itself up as answering any question I can remember here at the end of the reading experience. I was continually wondering why it existed ... I'll attach a page or two of my eleven pages of quibbles as a sample." 

The two dense pages of quibbles that follow range from complaints about the "deranged reference system" to wondering how metaphors generated around discussion of AIDS could possibly have anything to say to the Middle Ages to the declaration that "'envalue' is a horrid neologism" to insisting that xenophobia and racism cannot apply to medieval imaginings of Ethiopians or other Africans because "they are not living in close contact" to anyone in Europe to the exclamation that the work "makes no sense!"

And thus Cornell University Press rejected my future book Of Giants with a typewritten, four page reader's report. I was working as an adjunct at the time and was close to giving up on an academic career. This manuscript review nearly finished me. But I decided to give the market one more chance, and a year later was moving to Washington DC to begin a new life as an assistant professor at George Washington University. Oh the memories you find when you are purging files in your house in preparation for moving.

(This post is offered to anyone who has ever had a nasty peer review of their work. Remind yourself: we are in good company.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Ayanna Thompson to be next director of ACMRS

by J J Cohen

I am delighted to share some exciting news with ITM readers.

Ayanna Thompson will be the next Director of the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at ASU. She will be joining the English Department within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences this summer.

Ayanna Thompson is currently a Phi Beta Kappa distinguished visiting scholar and the Vice-President of the Shakespeare Association of America, where (among many other things) she has introduced a successful initiative for providing a network of mentors for scholars of color. She came to GWU five years ago from ASU, so this is her return home. Ayanna Thompson has been at the very heart of GW MEMSI -- as well as a frequent teaching partner and collaborator. I am so happy to have our work together continue: she as director of ACMRS, me as dean of humanities. The future of the past is bright.

Monday, March 19, 2018

#WhanThatAprilleDay18

a guest post by @LeVostreGC


Goode Friendes and Readers of Yn The Middel and readeres and scolers and teacheres and studentes arounde the globe of the Erthe, 

Yt doth fill my litel herte wyth gret happinesse to invyte yow to the fifthe yeare of a moost blisful and plesinge celebracioun.

On the first daye of Aprille, lat us make tyme to take joye yn alle langages that are yclept ‘old,’ or ‘middel,’ or ‘auncient,’ or ‘archaic,’ or, alas, even ‘dead.’

Thys feest ys yclept ‘Whan That Aprille Day.’ For thys yeare yt ys: 'Whan That Aprille Day 18.' Forget nat the "-le" yn Aprille. #WhanThatAprilleDay18

Ich do invyte yow to joyne me and manye othir goode folk yn a celebracioun across the entyre globe of the erthe. Yn thys celebracioun we shal reade of oold bokes yn sondrye oold tonges. We shal singe olde songes. We shal playe olde playes. Eny oold tonge will do, and eny maner of readinge. Al thogh thys holidaye dyd start wyth my writinge on blog and twytter yn Middel Englisshe, yet let that nat limit yn no waye the reache and capaciousnesse of thys growinge holidaye. All are welcome that come wyth love and understandinge to all. All are welcome that looke to the studye of the past nat to proppe up dustye tradiciouns but to builde a bettir and just and peaceful and lovinge future. We shal make merrye yn the magical dreamscape of 'social media,' and eke, yf ye kan do yt, yn the material plane of the 'real worlde' as wel.

Ye maye, paraventure, wisshe to reade from the beginning of my Tales of Caunterburye, but ye maye also wisshe to reade of eny oothir boke or texte or scroll or manuscript that ye love. Ye maye even reade the poetrye of John Gower yf that ys yower thinge.

What are sum wayes to celebrate Whan That Aprille Daye?

Gentil frendes, yf yt wolde plese yow to celebrate Whan That Aprille Daye 2018, ye koude do eny of the followinge. Be sure to use the hasshe-tagge #WhanThatAprilleDay18 on yower poostes of twytter and facebooke and blogge.
  Counte downe to Whan That Aprille Daye wyth postes and readinges.
  Maken a video of yowerself readinge (or singinge! or actinge!) and share yt on the grete webbe of the internette. 
  Planne a partye at yower classroome or hous to celebrate oolde langages, and poost pictures to the ynternette.
  Read auncient langages to yower catte, and the catte shal be moost mirthful. 
  Make sum maner of cake or pastrye wyth oold wordes upon yt, and feest upon yt wyth good folke and share pictures of yower festivitee. (And yet beware the catte that shal seke to eaten of the icinge yn the hours of derkenesse bifor the celebracioun.) 
  Yf ye be bold, ye maye wisshe to share yower readinge yn publique, yn a slam of poesye or a nighte of open mic. (Bringe the catte?)
  Yf ye worke wyth an organisatioun or scole, ye maye wisshe to plan sum maner of event, large or smal, to share writinge yn oold langages. (Policy for cattes at eventes?)
  And for maximum Aprillenesse, marke all tweetes and poostes wyth the hashtagge #WhanThatAprilleDay18 – remember the ‘Whan’ and ‘Aprille.’

What ys the poynte of Whan That Aprille Daye?
Ower mission ys to celebrate al the langages that have come bifor, and alle their joyes and sorrowes and richesse.

Ower mission ys to remynde folk of the beautye and grete lovelinesse of studyinge the wordes of the past. And thys ys for all wordes, of all tonges, and no tonge ys bettir than eny othir and all are belovid of all. And eke ower mission ys to bringe to mynde the importaunce of supportinge the scolership and labour that doth bringe thes wordes to us. To remynde folk to support the techinge of paleographye and of archival werke and eek, ywis, the techinge of thes oold langages. To remynde folk of the gret blisse and joye of research libraryes and the gret wysdam and expertyse of the libraryans that care for them across the centuryes. To call to mynde the fundinge of the humanityes, the which ys lyke the light of the sonne on the plantes of learninge and knowledge. For wythout al of thes thinges, the past wolde have no wordes for us and we wolde be left mirtheless.

Ower mission ys also to have ynogh funne to last until next Whan That Aprille Daye.

Note that thys event doth also coincide wyth Aprille Fooles Daye, the which ys fyne by cause we do love thes langages and alle who love are yn sum maner also fooles.

Thys yeare also (2018), yf ye do celebraten Easter on April the fyrste, thanne ye koude alwayes extend Whan That Aprille Daye to Mondaye and do yower WTAD eventes then. And yt will brighen uppe a Mondaye!

Ich do hope wyth al myn herte that that sum of yow good folke will joyne me on thys April first (or secounde) for readinge and celebratinge and foolinge. Lat us maken melodye on #WhanThatAprilleDay18

Wyth muchel love and admiracioun
 
Le Vostre
GC