Category Archives: Introduction

A stout Carl for the nones…

This month will see me making a concerted effort to be a more regular updater on this blog. Like Kisha, I won’t bother recounting all the reasons for my hiatus, but I thought I’d better briefly explain at least one of the major reasons why I dropped out of sight after February.

Pictured above is Carl Joseph Sexton,1 the tiny Viking whose arrival on February 29th brought nearly equal parts joy and chaos into our corner of the world (which is still a much better ratio than most actual Vikings managed). He’s quite a beefy little guy, and while he hasn’t yet shown any notable skill as a miller or a wrestler, he does seem to like trying to smash things ‘at a rennyng with his heed’.

…and he’s already learned how to take Myspace-style self-portraits!

And yes, he’s a leap day baby.

We’re quite pleased about him.

1 He’s named for his grandfathers, Carl Nabbefeld and Joseph Sexton. The picture’s a little blurry because, well, you try keeping him still long enough for a photo. The wee wyllen-helm, by the way, was knitted for Carl by a former student of mine who will be starting graduate school for medieval studies in the fall and who I’ll always think of as “Ættfræðingur,” the nickname bestowed on her by her classmates in our Icelandic Literature class for her uncanny ability to suss out genealogical connections in the sagas. I have no idea whether she reads this blog, but if you stop by—best of luck!

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Inaugural Post

Greetings from Fitchburg! 2010-11 marks my first year as an assistant professor here at Fitchburg State, and it’s been an exhilarating one filled with meeting colleagues and students as well as adjusting to a new home. Now that I am settled, it’s time once again to explore and, as is the nature of our professions, take on another project. And so MassMedieval is born!

John has already expressed his hopes and aspirations for this blog, articulating many of my own. I will add that, from my own perspective, I am looking forward to sharing experiences, ideas, and thoughts through this site, and, in the process, I hope to get to know other colleagues around Massachusetts (and elsewhere). Being new to the area, I am eager to meet others with like interests (or tangential or perpendicular ones – the more variety the merrier). It would be exciting to see MassMedieval develop into a community wherein we can discuss our passions for, and perhaps sometimes the frustrations with, medieval literature, history, and culture.

Over the years, I have found there is no better way to work through a project or design ideas for courses than discussing them, throwing them out there for a fresh set of eyes. Sometimes all it takes is writing them down, seeing them on the laptop screen. So this blog serves a selfish purpose for me in that I hope it will aid in improving both my research and my teaching. Of course I am more than willing to return the favor for others as well, so bring on the brainstorming (and the rants)!

I anticipate having a lot of fun with MassMedieval, and I also foresee that it will evolve over time as John and I think of ways to improve it. In the meantime, I am excited to launch the blog and ponder the possibilities for its future.

Welcome!

— Kisha Tracy

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MassMedieval

Hello, and welcome to MassMedieval! This journal has been established as a kind of conversation area for the medievalists of the Massachusetts State Universities and Colleges. Right now, there are contributors to this site from Bridgewater and Fitchburg State Universities—but we welcome contributors from the other campuses as well. As one of the elect, I thought I’d start by explaining why I (not we—I’m speaking for myself alone here) thought this was a good idea.

I’ve been wanting to put together a blog for a while, not as a precious or pretentious exercise in academic bombast (though no doubt there will be elements of that on occasion), but as a way of playing with and in the discipline of Medieval Studies. For the four years I’ve been employed as a medieval literature specialist, I’ve been fortunate in my colleagues and my campus. I occasionally want a venue, though, where I can spitball analyses of Anglo-Saxon penitential literature, really think about whether Chaucer was a Lollard, discover and share new bits of scholarship or obscure Anglo-Norman comic poems, and debate the meaning of the medieval world to modern pop culture—and do all this without testing the patience of the non-medievalists I work with.

In short, I enjoy writing a solid argument and finding a home for it in print, and I delight in bringing my students to an appreciation of pre-modern literature and culture…but really, I’m in this because it’s just plain fun, and I’m hoping to help make this a place where I can enjoy an ongoing exploration into all things medieval. This is liable to be something of an eclectic experiment, and I’d rather keep its purpose as open-ended as possible. The rules will most likely write themselves as we go along. In the meantime, let’s see what we can come up with, shall we?

~jpsexton

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