Back in the US, and a Brief News Round Up–Medieval and Otherwise

Greetings from the United States!!  It’s been unexpectedly difficult to keep up with blog posting in these last few weeks, as I went through that phase I suppose most American researchers in the UK experience, in which you suddenly realize, “Holy Cow, I only have X-number of days left!”  I was on the move constantly in my last few weeks overseas, and eventful ones they were!!  I finished going through the C76 files, took a look at some of the Roman Rolls (which weren’t as substantial as I had hoped), looked at the records of distraint to knighthood (at Andrew Ayton’s suggestion), and dug deep into the military records for Edward II’s reign–especially the 1322 and 1324-5 campaigns.  Wow. Lots of good stuff, including hundreds more names for my Norfolk/Suffolk personnel index.  I also went out to Norfolk for a few days, where I did some work in the Norfolk Record Office, and met John Alban, whose work on the medieval English “home front” I greatly admire, and have found really useful.  Talking with him also helped me continue to think through my dissertation, and realize further what exactly I’m doing!  I saw a lot of Norfolk churches as well, and gathered visual material for my Kalamazoo paper and chapter 5–especially the effigies of Kerdeston and Ingham, as well as the brasses of Stapleton and several other notable military commanders. It was a fascinating experience to see the landscape in which these folks operated, for even though much has changed since then, much has also remained the same.

Anyway, I arrived in Rochester on Wednesday afternoon, and am doing my darnedest to avoid the jetlag. Staying up all night in Heathrow Terminal 3 probably helped…But I’ll crash soon. In the mean time, I’ve managed to stay remarkably productive, and even went to karate practice yesterday evening.  Was regretting that at first, but kinda pushed through the pain and exhaustion…Heh heh.  So, that’s what I’ve been up to. Below are various news items that might be of interest…

I saw a news article from University of Pennsylvania, via Medievalists.net, that Penn just received 280 medieval and renaissance manuscripts, and will be founding the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies (named after the donors, of course). Congrats to U Penn!!!  This sounds really exciting.  More details can be found here.

Several new articles from Medievalists.net, who keep finding good things to post.  Andrew Jotischky assesses the state of scholarship on Franks and Muslims in the crusader states, discussing issues of assimilation, competition, identity, and so on.  Here’s an interesting dissertation on “The Impact of Popular ‘Medieval Film on the Public Understanding of the Middle Ages.”  And David Carpenter’s article on the Battle of Lincoln in 1217, from the Henry III Fine Rolls Project. I’m really glad they posted this, as the Fine Rolls Project is one of those that I hear about occasionally but can never seem to track down, and always forget about. The project website gives more information.  Also worth looking at is the Gascon Rolls Project, led by the venerable Malcolm Vale (who will be doing a presentation on the project at Kalamazoo in a few weeks’ time).  So much good stuff out there today…  And finally, an article looking at the mechanics of staging the Crucifixion in medieval English passion plays.  Definitely out of the ordinary…

I still haven’t had time to do a Civil War round-up, but the other day the TimesDisunion blog had a truly fascinating article on Lee’s decision to leave the army and join Virginia.  And it’s not what you’ve probably been brought up to think–his family was actually pro-Union, and he made the decision alone.  Doesn’t surprise me, really.  In lieu of further articles from Disunion, I’d suggest The Washington Post’s “Five Myths about why the South seceded,” which is pretty forthright…  The Post has done a number of “Five Myths” columns, worth checking out–among them on Abraham Lincoln, and myths about vegans.

Aaaand, here’s a page from the L.A. Review of Books, regarding yet another declaration regarding the “death of the book”–and giving some good background on the intellectual development of this declaration.  Personally, I would like to believe that the book has a few surprises up its sleeve.

Finally (and I apologize for how disorganized this post is), there’s an article from The Economist on recent attempts to extract mathematical rules regarding the behavior of war and conflict.  One of my old Rice friends, now at the London School of Economics, drew it to my attention, and I’m intrigued at any possibilities for application to my own research.

Ok, that’s about it for now. More posts soon.  Happy Easter, and Dominus vobiscum!!