Oh hey, a resource

I may be the last person on the internet to read Notorius How To Write Your (Undergrad) Paper In Seven Days. But in case I’m not, have a link!

I’m intrigued. I’m not sure anyone had ever told me to write topic sentences first – but I’m pretty sure that I do, for the most part. Or days on which I do that are days when I write well. Intriguing.  I may print out this list (with credit) and add it to the arsenal of writing-tips with which I berate my students. Thoughts, O former-students-who-read-this?


Notice to students

This semester, I happen to be tutoring on a course that involves the Song of Roland, and some Chrétien. Given that I’m the top google return for ‘Marvels Song of Roland’, and this search string turns up with great regularity, it’s highly likely that my students are going to find me.

This is a notice for students of Medieval Studies at the University of Sydney, fourth-year French at same, and indeed elsewhere:

1. Blogs do not constitute academic sources, because they have not been through peer review.
2. Yes, some of my undergraduate work is up here. Feel free to chase up my footnotes; replicating my argument would be foolish in the extreme.

Advice, and, eventually, a running list of resources for students can be found on

A post of stuff!

Stuff, it’s happening! On the internets.

For example, archaeologists in Iran have discovered a thirteenth-century observatory.

And RicaManuscript image - a piperrdo Chao created (and uploaded) a new computer font based on 12-th century Spanish chancery script. It’s shiny. Probably too shiny for anything but headings, and not all headings at that. But shiny. [This link and the preceding came via News for Medievalists]

U. Michigan have an online exhibition on Late Antique magical doodads: amulets, gems, recipes, aggressive magics, and something called a Demon Bowl.I <3 nerds

Here are a stack of pictures of medieval and renaissance dancers. Sadly, some of the links are borked.

Wickedday, in a laudable exercise of linguistic geekery, created an Old English scrabble set – and has instructions on how to build your own.

And [I think this was also via News for Medievalists]: renovations on a church in Berkshire have uncovered Britains’ oldest working window. It’s tiny. And adorable.

A week or so ago, Lesboprof posted a handy-dandy list of practical, professional advice for administrators and teachers (at tertiary level, although possibly applicable at other levels) on how to be actively queer-friendly on campus. I I'm in ur history - emphasizin your queerzassume by now you’ve all seen the flurry of blogging and social networking arising from the recent spate of well-reported suicides by queer youth in the US, and carrying on into (US-based) National Coming Out Day. I read a lot of the resulting material, and Lesboprof’s advice is that which I found ‘best’, by the arbitrary standards of ‘things Highly likes’. I urge you to read the post and consider applying some of her suggestions if you are in a position to do so.

Finally, in case you missed it, historians admit to inventing Ancient Greece.

Nifty things post: BiblioLife

Having discovered that the USyd library either doesn’t have a copy of Chrétien’s Philomena, or haven’t entered it into the catalogue database1, I recently embarked upon a quest to buy Cornelius de Boer’s 1909 edition of same.

I can’t remember which seller I bought it through – I use abebooks.com.au, betterworldbooks.com and bookdepository.co.uk pretty much indiscriminately. The book turns out to come, though, from a printing company called BiblioLife, who digitise out-of-print books and then print and sell them as paperbacks. So my copy of Philomena turned up in a flimsy paperback form, looking like a (very nice) self-published book. Inside, though, is a complete scan of the 1909 original – blown up just slightly, and on bright white paper, which makes for a much easier reading experience than one would have with the now-discoloured original. The margins are very wide, which is great for my compulsive annotating-and-scrawling habit.

Also – and I find this adorable – here and there, in very tiny ink pen, you can see neat annotations made by someone onto the page of the original which had been scanned. They look like useful annotations – one emends “queres” to “qu’elle”, which, sure enough, makes more sense – which beats the bubble-writing twit who carefully made utterly wrong notes on my second-hand copy of Cliges.

The Bibliolife website says they use the profits from their paperback sales to fund further digitisation projects. Sounds pretty spiffy to me!

On the other hand, let it be stated now that if Cornelius de Boer weren’t already dead I would inhume him myself. Extremely meticulous edition, with copious notes and even a complete index, but no glossary. Why, if you’re listing every instance of a given word in your text, would you not give a definition of it at the same time? Oh, right, because it’s 1909 and you’re allowed to assume everyone knows as much as you do. HOWEVER, I’ve just remembered that one of my several (why do I have several???) translations of Cliges has an English translation of Philomena in it, so at least I can cross-reference something.


1. One day I will learn how to use a card catalogue. Again. Primary school library lessons were a long time ago! I can use the card catalogue in Rare Book, but only if I’m looking for one specific book – I’ve no idea how I’d fare looking up a general topic without the ability to keyword search. Perhaps I should ask a librarian.

Today is link day!

My friend Kari has just launched her own academic blog. Strange Student is (going to be!) full of resources for self-directed learning. Kari plans to lend some help and advice to students who come to higher education through non-traditional pathways (such as homeschooled young people or mature-age students), provide resources for those who want to learn more outside of the classroom, and to provide links to the best online education materials (with a history-specific bent).

On Mondays she’ll be posting about college (university), and she’s started off with a clear, concise post entitled Is College Right For You. I don’t know if I’ve got any followers who are debating their possible university career, but if you are, you might want to check out Kari’s post – you’ll get a lot more in the way of balanced advice from her than from me (pssst UNIVERSITY IS AWESOME). Dean Dad, Kari’s series might interest you; likewise anyone who’s in a student-advisory type capacity in academic administration.

To the Students of “Myths, Legends and Heroes”:

I assume you’re responsible for the sudden spate of AElfric-related search strings which have been bringing people to this blog, particularly the ‘aelfric cult of saints’ string and the ‘St Eadmund’ string.

For those wanting to know about English attitudes to the Vikings- there are some half-decent sources out there on that, but not much (that I know of) in the way of scholarly sources online. Sadly, almost everything which is of use to you in book form is currently either loaned out to me or to K (which is why I know about your assignment, as she is in MLH with you), and as your essay is due on Tuesday you’re not going to get hold of it by then.

When it comes to St Edmund, you might as well give up- K tells me there is one article out there on the depiction of the Vikings in the St Edmund homily, but I don’t know the citation for it since I didn’t look at Vikings when I worked on Edmund. Best to work from your lecture notes or come up with your own interpretation.

Instead of googling, I recommend you use the Old English Bibliography Database to find articles which you can use for your essay. You will need to register- put down your university as your affiliation, and then you’ll need to read their ‘how to search’ instructions as the search function is a bit complicated. But that will find you everything written on Old English lit or history up to 2004.

If you are going to research using google, can I please encourage you to consider some principles for using online sources before doing so? I know all of your teachers: your lecturer is my supervisor; one of the tutors is my mentor and the other two I like to consider friends. (“Some Principles” was vetted by said mentor, so you can trust it as a reliable guide to reliability). They are none of them silly people; they will notice if you’ve plagiarised or used unreliable sources. For the love of Bede, do not use anything from this blog- don’t plagiarise, they can all use google, and don’t cite me, they all know who I am. Finally, if you do use any online source, please consider the example citation which I gave in “Some Principles”. Your markers will feel less like strangling you if you have all the appropriate details in your citation.

Yours Sincerely,


P.S. If any of you are doing the ‘decay and destruction’ question, can I recommend the Sermo Lupi ad Anglos? I think it’s not a text about Viking invasion so much as about social decay. One day, I will write a paper or a thesis or a book about this, but for now, consider it a free idea and I’ll be glad to have influenced young minds.

Introductory Resources For Anglo-Saxon Studies (Again)

In response to the Goblin’s desire for some background reading recommendations, may I recommend these five books:


* Frank Stenton, Anglo Saxon England. This is *the* book.  It’s about fifty years old, is a veritable brick (better for bashing people with than most bibles), covers names and dates in meticulous detail. If you have trouble staying awake while reading Lord of the Rings, this book is not for you.

* Edward James, Britain in the First Millenium (also covers the later Celtic period). A relatively new book, and not a Canonical Great by any means. However, it’s engaging, clearly laid out, and in accessible language. I road-tested it on my father and he found it good, ergo, it will probably not put noobs to sleep. One caveat: his ideas about the dating of Beowulf are very unconventional.


* Primary Texts: any of the student editions by Elaine Treharne- sometimes in conjunction with others, sometimes not. For an example, Old and Middle English c.890-c.1400 : an anthology ed. Elaine Treharne, some of which is reprinted in Old and Middle English Poetry, ed Duncan Wu (based on the Treharne ed.). Treharne’s editions are lovely, with parallel translations which are broken up into lines but don’t sacrifice accuracy for the sake of modern poetics. They’re also clearly laid out and simply introduced.

* To continue with the Treharne fangirling, I cannot possibly over-recommend Treharne’s introductory guide to Old and Middle English literature- Readings in Medieval Texts: Interpreting Old and Middle English Literature ed Treharne and Johnson (which has a good intro essay on the Gawain poet, incidentally). The essays are simple, clear, and provide broad introductions to the most common scholarly approaches in the field.

* Paul E. Szarmach, Old English Prose: Basic Readings. The level of these essays is considerably more advanced than the Treharne introductions, and they provide original scholarship rather than simply background readings. However, if there’s something awesome in Anglo-Saxon prose that isn’t covered in this book, I have yet to find it.


On a completely unrelated note: OMG SQUEE EMMA OF NORMANDY IS, LYKE, TOTALLY AWESOME. *fangirls a little bit* Since I’ve discovered that the best way for me to internalise Boy History is by writing character-based narratives, expect a special feature on Queen Emma as soon as my sleep cycle rights itself. Today, in the middle of writing a sentence about AEthelred and Thorkell the Tall, I apparently got up or fell off my seat and fell sound asleep, sprawled across the library floor and partly under the table, for around half an hour.