Thursday, November 12, 2015

Knowing the Known World

Bute Psalter
Had I known that I was going to buy a house during the preparation time for this class, I might have considered something smaller. However, this was the Stellar University of Northshield, so I had free rein to be as geeky as possible in a two-hour session!

Knowing the Known World is an overview of many of the differences in perspective between the modern world and the medieval/renaissance world.  Time, space, nutrition, politics, art, philosophy... lots of stuff.  Some of the subjects, such as the post-period seven-color rainbow, the realist/nominalist debates, and the theory of the four humors were discussed in previous classes. Other topics, such as the heirarchy of minerals, and Charlemagne's observation on bilingualism were new.  Some, such as the changing role of the individual were barely touched on... stay tuned for further developments.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Happy 800th Birthday

This June we celebrate the 800th Anniversary of the "Articles of the Barons", a document which, with considerable editing, became the "Magna Carta" or "Great Charter".  Since the theme of Hvitskogar's "Over the River - Part Fork" event was the Magna Carta, I thought an introductory class on this great document might be in order. Beginning with the 1066 death of King Edward the Confessor I reviewed some of the issues that beset the English Crown and people, such as legitimacy of rule, ballooning taxes to pay for foreign occupations and wars, complete disregard for the lower classes, and the notion that the English Crown would bow to no other authority, sacred or secular.

I'm glad things aren't like that today, thanks to this charter and its successors.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Gnomes - Short and to the Point

A challenge was issued at Bardic Madness XXV to present a work that used proverbs to prove a point. I had been playing around in psalters, trying to see if the marginal illustrations had any connection to the text.

What did I discover?  Aesop's fables!

Apparently, from around the 11th through the 14th centuries, there were books of sermon illustrations written to help priests put a little more punch in their sermons. They drew from many sources, which included popular sayings and proverbs, the legendary lives of the saints, and the fables that are usually attributed to Aesop.

I tried to give an overview of how some of this material (some of which had roots in ancient Egypt, Sumeria, and India) had come to be in Psalters and books of hours, and how proverbs could indeed be used to prove a point.

I must say, this project was overwhelming in the best possible way. Every rock I turned over provided loads of little critters proclaiming earthy wisdom.  I'm so glad I had a deadline, or my bill at Amazon would have been enormous.

I put the text of my PowerPoint talk on a page here on Blogger. I haven't formatted a true bibliography yet.