Woman in sensible swimming costume performs minor acts of environmentalism

The title of this post would not be out of place in ‘I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue’s‘ newspaper headline round.* While I would not dare to place my comic talent, such as it is, on a par with Barry Cryer et al., the echo is deliberate. This is a post inspired by Victoria Whitworth’s book Swimming with Seals and Gary Budden’s ‘Landscape Punk’. It’s a little story about a little swim on a little beach in a small part of Cornwall. Continue reading “Woman in sensible swimming costume performs minor acts of environmentalism”

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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”

Reflections on the ‘countryside’

This blog is called ‘Landscapes of the Normans’ and so far, there’s been very little about landscapes, though rather more about Normans. As other articles and projects are now done and away, I can finally get on with drawing together the disparate threads of the landscapes project, send in the book proposal and write it [1]. Recently, a modernist friend, Matthew Kelly, wrote a long post relating to his current research on the nature state, national parks, and rewilding asking ‘what is the countryside for?’ His answer was nine-fold and for me posed interesting questions about definitions, the longue durée, and historical responses to the problem of people living on this planet.

Continue reading “Reflections on the ‘countryside’”

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”

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”