This post is going to be a bit different. No research and very little “field” discussion. Instead, this is a reflection on the personal aftermath of another failed job market season and the emotions tied up with it.
This year was my first year on the job market with my PhD in hand, and I had the added benefit of being a Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow at my doctoral institution for a year. I had three campus visits, only to come away empty handed. Again. Granted, my first two years on the job market were ABD, and my second year provided me with my first interviews and first campus visit. So, progress is slowly being made. Sort of. Kind of. Maybe. I don’t know. Who really knows in this gods forsaken job market??
This is going to be a very short post, but I thought I’d go ahead and begin pondering the usefulness of transcribing Holt into a searchable online document.
Similar to the accessibility and the search-ability of my translations, we would finally have a digital edition of the Ormulum that we could use for text mining and other fun data analysis. Right now, you can find the 1878 edition freely available online (just Google it), but it’s either in a PDF or in the unhelpful digital format from the Internet Archive. The Archive of Early Middle English has the images for their digital edition of MS Junius 1 (yes!!), but it will take some time before they have edited and coded it. In the meantime, might it be useful to have even the flawed Holt and White version online somewhere?
Feel free to post your thoughts.
Well, I seem to be one of those “occasional” bloggers, but it’s not for lack of desire to blog. It’s more like a lack of time and energy to blog. Sometimes I post to work things out, other times I blog to visualize what I think I’ve already worked out. This time, it’s to give an update on the progress of the dissertation, as well as talk a little bit about my new Twitter project, translating the Ormulum in tweets, during which I have discovered something absolutely crucial to Orm’s work.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged Archive of Early Middle English, Christopher Cannon, dissertation, Early Middle English Society, homilies, Jan van Vliet, medieval, medieval manuscripts, N. R. Ker, Ormulum, Poema Morale, repetition, twelfth-century
So, I finished the first chapter of my dissertation last November (right before my last blog post on a mini publication I’d been asked to write for SMART), and in January, my meeting on said chapter went exceedingly well. Sure, revisions need to be made, but that’s what “later” is for. Today, and supposedly over the last 8 months, I’ve been working towards my second chapter of the dissertation. In reality, I’ve been teaching subjects outside of my area of specialty and, therefore, have written nothing new (other than some repetitive notes in journals).
What I have been able to accomplish, aside from adding three more courses (two of which were stand-alone) to my C.V., is one conference presentation at K’zoo 2013 and one almost finished article taken from my first chapter.
Perhaps Linkin Park’s “Somewhere I Belong” is not the best song about “belonging” that could have popped into my mind when thinking about the place of early Middle English instruction in the Old English curriculum, but it captures the abandonment, resentment, and identity confusion that I think the period should feel. After years of scholarly neglect and dismissal, the last 20 years or so have shown a gradual rediscovery of the period, as well as the first proper scholarship on many of the texts. What we still haven’t accomplished is to locate early Middle English texts well enough in our medieval English curriculum. Unless you’re discussing female devotional texts or instructions for the female religious (The Wooing Group and the Katherine Group are great examples), or maybe looking at French influence in the “rise” of early Middle English in The Owl and the Nightingale, you probably don’t include much early Middle English in your courses. It doesn’t matter that the vast majority of these texts are homiletic in nature; they should still be studied. Do we not read the works of Ælfric, Wulfstan, and Alfred the Great in Old English courses? Do we not read hagiographies in both Old and Middle English courses? Do we not read religious poetry in Old and Middle English courses? If you have answered in the affirmative to all of these questions, then you have no right in dismissing the early Middle English literature at your disposal, especially when it can bring Old and Middle English literature into a more productive discourse with each other. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve told people in Middle English classes, “Yeah, that happens in Old English literature, too,” or, in Old English classes, “Yeah, that survives into the later periods, too.” What it boils down to, I think, is that we ignore early Middle English when creating courses because we cannot force it into the neat boxes of categorization that university registrars and departments especially like.
So, my first dissertation chapter deals with how early medieval English writers dealt with the sea, metaphorically, in a redemptive away when faced with exile/displacement. Exile at sea seems to be linked to the idea of control, ultimately. The more a person clings to control while at sea, the more they flounder. The sooner they relinquish any illusions of control and leave their fates to either wyrd or the Christian god, the sooner they get through their ordeals (see, for example, The Seafarer, The Legend of St. Brendan, King Horn, etc). Even Beowulf must submit to the ocean when the waves separate him from Breca. Eventually, this lack of control and need for assistance translates into intermediaries of the celestial type, such as the archangel Michael or the Virgin Mary, whose title “star of the sea” (stella maris or sæ-steorra) rose in popularity beginning in the twelfth century with religious writers like Bernard of Clairvaux. When you look up sæ-steorra in Bosworth-Toller online, the definition is “A star which guides mariners at sea,” which is unsurprising since the “sea-star” role that Mary plays is one of guidance of lost sailors (read “souls”).