Random and Not-so-Random Thoughts

29 Aug

I had a brief moment of delusion a month or so ago that my usually torrid (from a “real job” perspective) summer was easing up. A second wave of “business” started a couple of weeks ago and looks to continue at least through the next two weeks. Without time to really research and develop a content-driven post, I thought I’d highlight a few of my favorite blogs and throw in a couple of introspective notes.

Of course you can look at my Blog List on the left side of my web page. I like all of these and will at least scan them whenever a new post comes up, though David Beard’s Archaeology in Europe Blog sometimes overwhelms me with the amount of information. However right now I want to mention a few blogs which are largely focused on the Early Medieval/Late Antiquity periods.

Burgundians in the Mist is a blog devoted to the 5th and 6th century Burgundian Kingdom. The Burgundians were one of the Roman successor states, first settled as foederati and then carving out their own kingdom. In 534 they were defeated and their kingdom absorbed into that of the Merovingians. This website helps remove them from obscurity. One of the items which makes the Burgundians so interesting to me is that through the writings of Avitus of Vienne we’re provided a window into the struggle between Arian and Orthodox Christianity for Western supremacy. Outside of the Franks, all of the barbarian groupings that entered the former Roman territories were Arian and, one by one, they converted – or were destroyed by Justinian.

Grateful to the Dead is authored by Dr. Chris Armstrong, Professor of Church History at Bethel Seminary. The blog is not exclusively about the early Church, which is my main interest, but it has a lot of information about it, as well as the development of doctrine. I’ve only been following it for a short time but have found it very interesting.

Magistra et Mater has a blog which is a combination of her work on Early Medieval Europe and her current job as a Librarian (somehow “librarian” doesn’t seem to capture the essence of this – Library Scientist? academic librarian?). I’ve found her posts on the Carolingians very interesting and look forward to more of her work being published. I’m very interested in the role(s) of women during the Medieval period and her work on masculinity includes a tremendous amount of information on this. See her recent post on methods of study regarding the level of freedom women hold in societies for an example.

I’ve only recently been introduced to The Lost Fort through the recent Carnivalesque hosted by Jonathan Jarrett at A Corner of Tenth-Century Europe. Gabriele Campbell is a writer of historical fiction and fantasy who has done extensive research on the Ancient and Medieval periods. I haven’t had the time to go through her blog in depth – yet – but from what I can see, there’s a wealth of information.

You may wonder why I’ve left A Corner of Tenth-Century Europe so late. Alphabetically, Jonathan Jarrett’s blog is the first on my Blog List and anyone who’s read my blog knows how much I appreciate what he’s put together. That’s because I’m going to use his blog as a segue to another topic. Jonathan’s blog is remarkable for a couple of things. First, and most obvious, is the content. Absolutely loaded with information, not just about the 10th century and his most recent research interest, Catalonia, but about the Carolingians in particular, and Medieval History in general. Also, I’m a huge footnote-chaser and Jonathan includes these liberally. One of the things which characterizes all Medievalist blogs that I’ve come across is the love they have for the period and their work in it. I think this comes across particularly strongly in Jonathan’s blog. I’m certain there are Medievalists out there a bit discontented with their work, or wishing they were doing something else. But you don’t find them blogging.

Jonathan recently posted about his trip to the New Chaucer Conference in Siena a month or so ago. The post was interesting enough, but he was kind enough to include a link to his paper on blogging. I’ve read it 3 times.

Jonathan’s paper tells a story of how and why he began blogging, and how his blog has evolved. It’s good reading, but it speaks to me because I’m still trying to figure out what my blog is “about.” I know it’s about Late Antiquity and the Early Medieval period and I know it’s very much an amateur effort. But why does it exist? I started it because I enjoy conversations about medieval history and have engaged in multiple online forums related to this, and wasn’t happy with the level/content/something indefinable on any of them at the time. Mixed in with this is my enjoyment of teaching and my hope that I could provide some sort of amateur-professional “link” which other amateurs might find helpful. I’m certainly not a Medieval Historian, but when I get in a room full of them I can generally understand what they’re saying – something which wasn’t true at, say, my first International Congress on Medieval Studies ten years ago where I pretty much sat meekly in the back of the room during sessions.

That takes care of the why. How about the content, the what? As some have noted, I read a lot. I thought most of what I’d do would involve posting book reviews. It didn’t take very long to realize this wouldn’t happen. For one thing, while I read a lot, I don’t whip through a 500-page book every week and I feel it’s important to post regularly, at least weekly. However I don’t want this blog to be about my real job, my real life, or anything but medieval history.

So reading Jonathan’s paper has me thinking, again, about the purpose of this blog, the message I’d like to communicate. I’m not sure I have one beyond “the Middle Ages fascinate me.” No overarching theme or concept. This will likely result in a continued mixture of posts with a fair level of content, interspersed with those such as this one which include resources and introspective thoughts (nobody should interpret this post as even hinting that I don’t enjoy blogging or am thinking of stopping). And while I don’t want to “post just to post” I find this happening – where, when I’m busy, I throw something like this out (which I can put together in an hour without digging through references) so I can have a post up at least weekly, even when I have nothing to say.

Not to worry though. I’ve just started Allen Jones’ Social Mobility in Late Antique Gaul: Strategies and Opportunities for the Non-Elite. I think I’m going to enjoy this, and I expect I’ll have something to say about it when I finish.


Posted by on August 29, 2010 in Blogology, Resources


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

4 responses to “Random and Not-so-Random Thoughts

  1. Gabriele C.

    August 30, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    Thank you for liking my blog and linking to it, Curt. I put yours in my sidebar as well. :)

  2. Medieval History Geek

    August 31, 2010 at 2:07 am

    You're quite welcome – you have an excellent blog. It's something for me to aspire to though I don't have pictures like those to put up. The closest I could come is from a visit to the San Antonio Missions, hardly Medieval.

  3. gratefultothedead

    September 2, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    Thanks for the mention, Curt–though it appears my long-lost brother Richard is authoring my blog & not me!Peace,Chris Armstrong

  4. Medieval History Geek

    September 2, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    Yeesh! Not sure how that got in there. My usual state of mental confusion I suppose.


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