England

Magdalen College Library
May 17, 2013

Oxford from the Archives: A Tale of Two Colleges

As I said goodbye to the old streets of Oxford last week, I dismayed that I had not had the opportunity to fully explore the lovely little university city. Indeed, I barely took any photographs at all—many potential shots seemed to have waves of tourists, trucks, garbage bags, traffic, pylons, construction, and other everyday objects that reduce the quality of a picturesque landscape photograph (though Oxford is quite lovely). Nevertheless, here are a few photographs I was fortunate to snap:

Hollywell Street, Oxford

Hollywell Street, Oxford

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Medieval Labyrinth, MS Trinity College O. 2.45
May 10, 2013

Meditations on a Medieval Labyrinth

Last Saturday, May 4th, marked the 5th annual World Labyrinth Day. People from all over the world walked labyrinths together in celebration of this cultural construction, “Walk[ing] as One at 1”.1  Labyrinths have existed for over 4000 years across multiple cultures and settings, including classical, Roman, medieval, and contemporary. Today, the medieval labyrinth has endured as one of the most popular styles of labyrinth construction. In one manuscript I studied a few weeks ago, I came across a labyrinth image among a collection of other game problems.

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  1. The Labyrinth Locator lists over 4000 labyrinths worldwide. []
Exploring Asquiths Teddy Bear Shop
May 4, 2013

Bearly Medieval: The World’s 1st Teddy Bear Shop

When I had arrived in Henley-on-Thames during my long walk along the River Thames, it was late and I was starving so I was not able to do much exploring that evening. Last Sunday I decided to return to Henley (via rail) for a relaxing afternoon of discovery.1

As I made my way around the little city centre, I happened upon a most unusual site: situated in a fifteenth century building—one of the oldest buildings in Henley2 —was a teddy bear shop. A real teddy bear shop, complete with elaborate window displays of antique, brand name, and handmade teddy bears.

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  1. For anyone thinking of going to Henley-on-Thames on Sundays, be aware that the trains do not run as often, so it can take upwards of one hour to reach Henley from Reading. []
  2. The oldest bulding in town is The Old Bell is a traditional pub situated right in the centre of Henley. The building has been dated by experts at 1325. []
Henley-on-Thames
April 29, 2013

Walking along the Thames River (Reading to Henley-on-Thames)

The Thames River Trail is a national walking path that opened in 1996 and stretches 294 km (184 miles) from the source of the Thames in the Cotwolds, through London, and out to the sea. The trail is fairly well-marked and passes through numerous rolling meadows, rural villages and historical sites. Many sections of the trail use the original old towpath as well. I am an avid hiker and jumped at the opportunity to walk a small stretch of the longest river in England (someday I would love to hike the entire trail!)

Thames River Trail

Thames River Trail

 

I began in Reading and walked to Henley-on-Thames, exploring the villages of Sonning and Shiplake along the way, and returned via rail. This section of the trail is quite rural. I only saw a few other people on the trail (many of which were near Henley-on-Thames).

2 feet. 6 hours. 26 kilometres. 380 photographs. 38420 steps. Here we go!

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Trinity College, Cambridge
April 15, 2013

Cambridge in 26 photographs

As I am getting ready to head out tomorrow, I wanted to share some of the pictures I’ve taken while wandering around Cambridge and Cambridgeshire. I have spent the last ten days here working in the archives at various colleges and exploring this lovely little town.

One trend in Cambridge that I saw immediately was the near ubiquity of wicker baskets on bicycles:

The lone bicycle

The lone bicycle

 

All in a row

All in a row

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My workstation at the Cambridge University Library
April 8, 2013

#DayofDH: A Day in the Life of a Digital Medievalist

‘Day of DH’ is an annual online event celebrating the projects, work, groups and people involved in digital humanities (DH). Members, for the most part, tweet and blog about their daily activities as digital humanists, which provides insight in the DH field, elicits discussions among researchers, and creates a sense of community. If you are wondering what ‘Digital Humanities’ is, the term is difficult to define and responses vary widely among researchers. This ambiguity, I believe, adds to the appeal of the event since you can explore various ideas, responses, and definitions from every member here. This year the event is hosted by MSU’s own DH center: MATRIX: The Center for the Digital Humanities & Social Sciences.

You can also follow along today by visiting dayofdh2013.matrix.msu.edu or through Twitter with the hashtag #dayofdh.

I’ve been following the ‘Day of DH’ for a few years now, but was always a bit shy to participate. This year I decided to send in my post (now that my life is a little more interesting!) I’ve written the original post here, and have copied it below for your reading pleasure. I am not usually the sort of person to write about what I had for lunch (etc), but it seems relevant to discuss these types of things in a post about one’s daily activities. So here goes:

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London College of Arms
April 2, 2013

An Afternoon in the Archives at London’s College of Arms

One of the remarkable things about gaming texts is that they tend to show up in seemingly random places. Whether they are hastily scratched onto the back of some poor parchment wrapper or carefully scripted in a lovely illuminated manuscript, the range of manuscripts in which game texts appear attest to their popularity and variegated audience. But this variation also often means that one must tread to unlikely places to find them (and they sometimes take a scholar on quite a journey as well). One such chess treatise in London, which I had the pleasure of consulting, resides in a very unlikely place: the London College of Arms.

College of Arms engraving, c. 1756

College of Arms engraving, c. 1756

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Cecil Court, London, UK
March 24, 2013

(Ten of) London’s Antiquarian Bookshops: Part I

I am a huge fan of antiquarian bookshops. Rummaging through aisles (and oftentimes stacks) of discoveries waiting to happen, reveling in the smell of a nineteenth century pulp book (or better yet: a vellum manuscript), and rationalizing whether one (actually) needs to buy the newly-found text are all common experiences for me and other fellow bibliophiles. Some of my favourite bookshops manifest as the most random, disorganized, and cluttered places, with friendly bookmongers waiting in the wings and happy to help locate your desired treasure—certainly not for the claustrophobic, but perfect hunting grounds for the ambitious booklover.

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March 2, 2013

London, thou art the flour of Cities all

After roughly seventeen hours of travel, I have finally arrived in London. The title of this post, which belongs to the sixteenth century poem “To the City of London” often ascribed to the Scottish makar William Dunbar (b. 1460), describes my experience well so far (though I think Vancouver, like many other wonderful urban centres around the world, presents an admirable rival for being “Soveraign of cities”). Indeed, London has proven to be a most welcoming and inviting city; I have chatted with quite a few folks on the streets, shared a glass of wine and good conversation with my new flatmates, and had a few people not only help me find my way around labyrinthine Paddington station, but also carry my heavy luggage bag up an entire flight of stairs. The immigration officer, an older gentleman, didn’t even ask me any questions at the border. Upon hearing I was a PhD student, the officer immediately perked up and revealed he had also once been a PhD Candidate (and then proceeded to reminisce about his long-abandoned PhD dissertation on a modernist Swiss writer).

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