Welcome to my first installment of semi-impromptu travel musings!
Before we begin I must confess: I have never been much of a blogger. The thought of blogging makes me cringe — to face the expectation of posting regularly again and again whether the writer has something to say or not (and I’m often faced with never knowing what to say in the first place). Nevertheless, I have been encouraged by quite a few folks to record my travels (so here it goes!) This is not a blog; it’s an un-blog. I will only post something if I think it will add value to the project or help someone’s project or travel plans. Some posts may sound awkward. But that’s okay. So, shedding the “blog” label, I call this account of my travels a “chronicle”—a twenty-first century pilgrimage of sorts. Thoughts will range from academic matters to travel tips for scholars and geeks-at-heart. I may also throw in a shameless plug, but these will be far and few between. Other posts might involve continuing a conversation, either put forth from a book or on the web. Communication travels multilaterally across various media, after all. With this chronicle, I hope to keep in touch with friends and forge new relationships with fellow medievalists.
So what is this chronicle about?
I am a late 20-something PhD Student traveling around Europe in order to track down and study (more than a few) medieval manuscripts for my dissertation. The name of this chronicle, “Leaf & Leisure,” demarcates the two book-ends of this virtual experiment. I will attempt to share insights into the wonders of medieval Europe–England, Ireland, Scotland, Paris, and more–from working in the archive (manuscript “leaves”) and from exploring historical sites (a “leisurely” stroll through history, if you will). This title also depicts two of the main focal points of my dissertation: “leaf” (manuscripts) and “leisure” (games). Here is a (very) brief description of my dissertation:
My dissertation examines the convergence of medieval game culture and literature—including “game-texts” that function as both social and interactive activities—in order to theorize the way in which games operate as forms of cultural expression in the Middle Ages. Many of the manuscripts I will be locating have not been documented beyond an index note in a library catalogue and few have been digitized, so we know very little about many of these games culturally or codicologically. Games sit at the nexus of narrative and the material world. The texts, textual communities, and manuscripts in which these entertainments are found attest to the cultural tastes and trends across a broad social spectrum. It is these spaces of play between the ludic and the literary that this dissertation takes as its main focus, exposing contrived dichotomies that have long plagued game scholarship in order to explore what the idea of “game” held for authors and players of medieval literature and culture.
All in all, I hope to share some of the ways medieval manuscripts are connected with the study of games in the Middle Ages and, through this chronicle and dissertation, examine the cultural production, significance, and circulation of medieval games in relation to books and literature.