The monks of Bec-Hellouin and the importance of place vs space

One of the things I am working on at the moment is an essay for A Companion to the Abbey of Le Bec in the Middle Ages edited by Benjamin Pohl and Laura Gathagan to be published by Brill. This is an exciting project as it brings together different approaches to understand the significance of this important Anglo-Norman abbey from a wide variety of scholars. My piece, as you might expect, is on the use of space. It’s a welcome return for me to the study of monasticism and also to pick up some of the challenges of studying space, place and landscape in the middle ages. Continue reading “The monks of Bec-Hellouin and the importance of place vs space”

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Into the wilderness

Originally posted at ‘On Boundaries’ (now defunct). The thoughts presented in the original paper have been published as ‘Monastic Authority, Landscape, and Place in the Ecclesiastical History of Orderic Vitalis’, Gender and Authority in Medieval and Renaissance Chronicles, eds J. Dresvina and N. Sparkes (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 2012), pp. 102-120. I’ve reposted it here as it has some bearing on an article I’m currently writing about the abbey of Bec-Hellouin.

What is a wilderness? How did medieval chroniclers and other writers describe it? What is the significance of the wilderness? These and other questions were the subject of my most recent paper at a workshop on monasticism held to launch three books (mine and two of my colleagues’). Continue reading “Into the wilderness”

New Year, New Blog

During the coming term, I will be on research leave and hopefully making headway with my new book provisionally titled Landscapes of the Normans: Ways of Seeing. The aim of this blog is to act as a virtual notebook of ideas, thoughts and musings relating to that. Some content will be reused from my previous blog ‘On Boundaries’ (now deleted) where I blogged as ‘gesta’. This will be clearly flagged and acknowledged.