In search of Orderic Vitalis

Originally published in September 2008 on ‘On boundaries’ (now defunct). Reivers is still my partner in all things, but now keeps his own blog under his real name somewhere on GitHub.

I haven’t mentioned Orderic Vitalis for at least a couple of months, so it is about time he had another post. Reivers and I have recently been on holiday in Normandy, causing one colleague to ask if I’d had a productive time in the archives as he couldn’t understand why I went on holiday to an area I research. I didn’t spend any time in archives, but I did visit, with Reivers in tow, many sites and museums. One of those was St-Evroult, home of Orderic.

Continue reading “In search of Orderic Vitalis”

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Teaching charters: interaction and reconstruction in the seminar room

I have a confession to make: somewhen between the First Crusade special subject I took as an undergraduate [1] and teaching my own undergrad special, I fell out of love with charters. I’m not sure I was ever really in love with them, but at some stage they fell, like Domesday Book, into that category of documents labelled ‘hard to teach due to perceived dullness’. Ever since I’ve been puzzling over how to make teaching charters a bit more interactive than just reading and distinguishing their sections. Continue reading “Teaching charters: interaction and reconstruction in the seminar room”

Imagining places: women who don’t walk (at least not today)

I’ve failed again on the synchronised walking. At least in February I made it out of the door if not at the right time; this time the dreaded lurgy is keeping me indoors, so I’m peregrinating at the right time, just not physically. This isn’t as daft as it sounds and has sound historical precedents.

Continue reading “Imagining places: women who don’t walk (at least not today)”

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”