Featured Member

Featured member interviews are conducted by Brandon Alakas. The translations are courtesy of Brandon Alakas and Lucie Laumonier. Les traductions sont offertes par Brandon Alakas et Lucie Laumonier.

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  • 5 Nov 2016 12:59 PM | Andrew Klein

    Education

    I did my BA (History and Medieval Studies) and my MA (History with Specialization in Medieval and Renaissance Studies) both at the University of Ottawa, and my PhD (History) at the University of York, UK. Now I work as a postdoc and academic manager at the Centre for Medieval Literature (History department, University of Southern Denmark & Department of English and Related Literature, University of York).

    You’re arriving at an airport for a research trip and the border control agent asks what you do. How do you answer?

    As a Canadian working in Denmark with a history of student visas in the UK, I get asked this question a lot. Right now it usually goes something like: 

    Canadian border control: “What are you doing in Denmark?” 

    Me: “I…work at a Centre for Medieval Literature?”

    Canadian border control: “…you don’t hear that every day.”

    What projects are you currently working on?

    I have two main research projects on the go right now. The first is the process of publishing parts of my PhD research as articles. I have a new one forthcoming in Florilegium, “The King and his Relatives in Political Literature for Charles VI of France,” and am working on a book chapter on the 15th-century manuscripts of Philippe de Mézières’ Songe du viel pelerin, originally completed in 1389. 

    I’m also writing a monograph tentatively titled Pierre Salmon’s Dialogues and Political Literature in Late-Medieval France. The book will look at two remarkable manuscripts: the two very different authorial versions of a text editorially titled the Dialogues based on it being partly framed as a record of a conversation ostensibly held between Charles VI of France and Salmon, who worked as the king’s secretary. The manuscripts both contain extensive image programs as well as multiple textual genres (mirror for princes, autobiography, catechism, letters…), and my monograph will explore the role of these genres in 15th-century attempts to intervene in political conversations using literature, as well as the way Salmon’s record of the conversations he had and letters he exchanged with influential figures of the day propose a model of the political community in 15th-century France. You can see the manuscripts online here http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b84546920.r=fr%2023279?rk=21459;2 and here http://www.e-codices.ch/en/searchresult/list/one/bge/fr0165.

    What do you think is the best part of being a medievalist?

    I’ve always enjoyed the way the medieval can be both utterly alien and completely familiar. On the one hand, from a modern perspective there’s something extremely bizarre about describing the king of France as a white falcon with golden feet, a golden beak, and a crown, and then sticking that falcon in the middle of a chessboard and telling him each square of the board has a lesson on how to govern better. But on the other hand, there’s something extremely familiar about people using available media to have political conversations (think Rick Mercer’s rants or late-night talk shows). And I always get a laugh out of medieval complaints that kids these days just wear their clothes too tight and reveal too much to passers-by.

    Why did you join the CSM? What other societies do you belong to?

    I was urged to join during my MA so I could participate in the CSM’s annual conference, which took place at Carleton that year. I remember being really confused about the relationship between the CSM conference and the rest of the activities on campus – Congress is a baffling model for a rookie, but now that I get how it works, I love it.

    I’m also a member of the Society for the Study of French History, the Société des études médiévales du Québec, the Medieval Academy of America, and the Society for the Study of Medieval Languages and Literature (Medium Aevum).

    Where can we find/read some of your work?

    In addition to my forthcoming Florilegium article, I recently (2016) published “The Royal Entries of Henry VI in a London Civic Manuscript” in the Journal of Medieval History, and in 2015 my chapter “Reconfiguring Queen Truth in BnF Ms. Fr. 22542 (Songe du vieil pelerin)” came out in Textual and Visual Representations of Power and Justice in Medieval France: Manuscripts and Early Printed Books, edited by Rosalind Brown-Grant, Anne D. Hedeman, and Bernard Ribémont (Ashgate).

    In an unusual move for a UK PhD, I didn’t put an embargo on the digital version of my PhD thesis, “Counselling Charles VI of France: Christine de Pizan, Honorat Bovet, Pierre Salmon, and Philippe de Mézières,” so it’s free to download. You can find links to all my work here: https://kristinbourassa.wordpress.com/research/. I’m also on Twitter (@kristinbourassa).

    Any final thoughts?

    Being the current CSM PR officer has made me realize how many interesting things Canadian medievalists are doing all around the world! If you’re also on Twitter, please consider subscribing to our Twitter list Canmedieval, https://twitter.com/canMedievalists/lists/canmedieval. And remember to email canmedievalistsPR@gmail.com for your own Medievalist of the Month feature!



  • 6 Oct 2016 1:01 PM | Andrew Klein

    October 2016's Medievalist of the Month is CSM President David Watt (University of Manitoba)!

    Education

    BA, MA: University of Alberta

    M.St., D.Phil: St Anne’s College, University of Oxford

    You’re arriving at an airport for a research trip and the border control agent asks what you do. How do you answer?

    Nervously. I always get the sense that the border control agent is going to say, incredulously, “Are you really a medievalist?” causing my sense of imposter syndrome to kick in. “You’re right,” I can see myself admitting, “I’m not smart enough to be a medievalist. I can’t believe how long it took for someone to catch me.”

    What projects are you currently working on?

    I am currently working on a special issue of Florilegium that focuses on Medieval Manuscripts in Canada. It is great to learn about some of the projects that are currently underway in Canada. I hope that anyone reading this might be able to send me information about their holdings or an article about a manuscript or collection. I am also working on a book called Awkwardness and Grace. It explores awkwardness as a literary as well as a social experience, focusing on what I have come to call “the long fifteenth century” (though that’s really so that I can justify including the Pearl-manuscript at one end of a study of fifteenth-century texts and Skelton at the other!).

    What do you think is the best part of being a medievalist?

    Frequently having to defend the value of what I do. I used to think this was a drawback, and it certainly can be. However, I have now come to think of this as an advantage. Having to explain and defend what I do to others gives me a chance to ask myself whether I value what I do. At the end of his book Juvenescence, Robert Harrison (a medievalist by training) argues that learning serves “no purpose at all, except the enhancement of life. In the human sphere learning is life, and life is learning.” As a medievalist, I have the chance to help others to enhance their lives by learning about the past. The medieval past can help us to understand the kinds of learning that persist, either because they are so enduring or because they are worth fighting for. Having to defend the value of what I do as a medievalist has helped me to understand that the purpose of learning is the enhancement of life. 

    Why did you join the CSM? What other societies do you belong to?

    I first came to a meeting of the CSM because I wanted to stay active in the Canadian community when I was studying abroad. I stayed involved because the CSM is such a friendly, supportive, and intellectually stimulating group of people. Although I am not someone who naturally loves conferences, I thoroughly enjoy CSM meetings because I learn so much about work outside my area and because I always feel I am amongst people who support me. I am also member of the Early Book Society, the New Chaucer Society, the Medieval Academy, and the Modern Language Association. 

    Where can we find/read some of your work?

    You can read my book, The Making of Thomas Hoccleve’s Series, or publications in The Journal of the Early Book SocietyRenaissance and Reformation, and Leeds Studies in English as well as articles in Pedagogy and SMART, which both focus on teaching. You can also read my introductions and student editions of Hoccleve and Malory’s Tale of Gareth in the Broadview Anthology of British Literature

    Any final thoughts?

    Whenever I talk to people—from elementary-school-aged children to university students to adults—I find that they are enthusiastic about learning about the past, especially the distant past. While many of us feel obliged to spend time defending the humanities, I would like to spend more of my time talking about the ways that we can share our love of learning about the medieval period with others. I know many Canadian medievalists are currently doing this in their classrooms or through outreach work, and I would love to hear more about it.


  • 7 Sep 2016 1:02 PM | Andrew Klein

    We begin the 2016-17 academic year with a profile from Lynn Arner, Associate Professor in the Department of English at Brock University!

    Education

    I have a PhD in English and a Graduate Certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies. My first two degrees are from Canada, while my last set of degrees is from the U.S. 

    You’re arriving at an airport for a research trip and the border control agent asks what you do. How do you answer?

    I teach medieval English literature, contemporary theory, and gender studies at Brock University. After teaching in a visiting post at the University of Pittsburgh for several years, I teach in the region where I grew up.

    What projects are you currently working on?

    I am currently working on two projects. The first is a study of class and gender in the professoriate in the discipline of English in Canada and the U.S., a project for which I have won a SSHRC Insight Development Grant. The second is scholarship on discourses of civility in late medieval England.

    What do you think is the best part of being a medievalist?

    I think that medieval literature and history are invaluable to teach because of their historical alterity. Such alterity helps denaturalize our current assumptions about gender, class, race, sexuality, and so many other important rubrics and cultural narratives. Of course, there is some historical continuity from late medieval England to now: for example, England began its long, brutal history of colonization in the late Middle Ages, by colonizing the Welsh and by attempting to colonize the Scots and the Irish. Once students learn about the Crusades, they often have a different understanding of European and American involvement in the Middle East now.

    The less erudite side of me adores medieval literature because I enjoy strong narratives and because I still giggle over many words from dead languages. For example, an Anglo-Saxon would “unlock his word-hoard,” and an ancient Roman ate placenta [cake]. 

    Why did you join the CSM? What other societies do you belong to?

    I joined the CSM because of its annual convention, which is a great way to meet other medievalists across Canada.

    I am a member of the Modern Language Association, the New Chaucer Society, the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship, the Working-Class Studies Association, and a founding member of The Gower Project.

    Where can we find/read some of your work?

    My first scholarly monograph was Chaucer, Gower, and the Vernacular Rising: Poetry and the Problem of the Populace After 1381(Research Triangle, PA: Penn State University Press, 2013). I also edited a special issue of Exemplaria (2007).

    My most cited article is “The Ends of Enchantment: Colonialism and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” Texas Studies in Literature and Language 48.2 (2006); 79-101. This article was also my most frustrating essay because it took me over seven years to get it published. [My advice to PhD students: tenacity is crucial for success in the profession.]

    My webpage has links to some of my work: https://brocku.ca/humanities/departments-and-centres/english-language-and-literature/faculty-and-staff-el/lynn-arner

    Any final thoughts?

    I am often asked, “Don’t you hate the latest Hollywood movie on King Arthur” [or Robin Hood, etc.]? I respond, “I love such movies, T.V. programs, and video games---the more, the better.” At a time when the Humanities are under attack in Canada and the U.S., pop culture representations of the Middle Ages help provide a steady flow of students into our medieval courses.

    Thanks, Lynn! Remember, all members are welcome to contribute a Medievalist of the Month profile to canmedievalistsPR@gmail.com.



  • 11 Aug 2016 1:03 PM | Andrew Klein

    April showers bring May flowers...and a new Medievalist of the Month, Robin Norris of Carleton University!

    Would you like to be the next medievalist of the month? Get in touch at canmedievalistsPR@gmail.com. New medievalists currently sought for May, June, July, and August! 

    Education

    B.A., English and Linguistcs double major at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, with a year at Trinity College Dublin. M.A., Ohio State. Ph.D., University of Toronto.

    You’re arriving at an airport for a research trip and the border control agent asks what you do. How do you answer?

    I am a professor in the English Department at Carleton. If they ask what I teach, I tell them I teach medieval literature and the history of the English language. Then there usually follows a love it or hate it reaction.

    What projects are you currently working on?

    I am collaborating with Johanna Kramer (University of Missouri) and Hugh Magennis (Queens University, Belfast) on a collection of 22 anonymous Old English saints’ lives to be published in 2017 by Harvard University Press for Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library. Each text has been reedited with an introduction and translation. This will likely require two volumes! I am responsible for six lives: Giles, James, Machutus, Mildred, Neot, Pantaleon. Over reading week, we three editors will meet at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library in Washington, DC, to finalize the project, which goes to press on July 1.

    What do you think is the best part of being a medievalist?

    One of the best things about being a medievalist is understanding where English came from and how the language has changed over time. This is also an interesting time to be teaching as a medievalist because our popular culture seems to be obsessed with the medieval world. 

    Why did you join the CSM? What other societies do you belong to?

    There are some amazing medievalists working in Canada. I also belong to ISAS and the Babel Working Group.

    Where can we find/read some of your work?

    I have published in a number of journals and edited collections. I have one piece online about film adaptations of Beowulf: “Resistance to Genocide in the Postmodern Beowulf.” Literature Compass 8 (2011): 435–8. I have a recent article out in Anglo-Saxon England 2014: “The Sevenfold-Fivefold-Threefold Litany of the Saints in the Leofric Missal and Beyond.” This question makes me wonder if I should get on academia.edu…

    Any final thoughts?

    Marc Saurette and I co-founded a new minor in Medieval and Early Modern studies. He taught the first of our core courses this fall.

     

    On July 1, I will become chair of my department. 


  • 6 Mar 2016 1:04 PM | Andrew Klein

    March 2016's Medievalist of the Month is Kouky Fianu (University of Ottawa):

    You’re arriving at an airport for a research trip and the border control agent asks what you do. How do you answer?

    That I'm a Professor of Medieval History.

    What projects are you currently working on?

    I'm finishing a book on the notaries of Orléans at the end of the Middle Ages, and starting a new project on the management of documents and archives at the Hôtel-Dieu of Orléans (12th-17th centuries).

    What do you think is the best part of being a medievalist?

    Working on a fascinating period, on a world so different from and yet so linked to our own. Understanding western civilization in-depth. Needing other disciplines (literature, philosophy, languages, etc) and a strong comparative dimension.

    Why did you join the CSM? What other societies do you belong to?

    It's important to have Canadian representation and contacts with others working on the period in Canada, to avoid isolation and to make it known that we exist. I am also a member of the SEMQ and of LAMOP (Laboratoire de médiévistique occidentale de Paris).

    Where can we find/read some of your work?

    On my departmental website and in university libraries.

    Remember, to contribute your own profile to medievalist of the month get in touch at canmedievalistsPR@gmail.com!


  • 6 Jan 2016 1:06 PM | Andrew Klein

    To open 2016, we have Sheryl McDonald Werronen as January's Medievalist of the Month!

    Education

    PhD in English, focusing on Old Norse literature, University of Leeds (2013).

    MA in Medieval English Literature, University of Leeds (2009).

    BA (Honours) in Medieval Studies with a minor in Linguistics, University of Victoria (2008).

    You’re arriving at an airport for a research trip and the border control agent asks what you do. How do you answer?

    When I’m asked what I do when travelling, I usually just say I’m an academic. If I’m arriving in Iceland or Denmark, I’ll often add that I do research on Old Norse literature and manuscripts, since this usually doesn’t seem too ‘out there’ to the border control agents in those countries!

    What projects are you currently working on?

    Since finishing my doctoral research on late medieval Old Norse romance, I’m finding my work is increasingly moving into post-medieval spheres. I find this especially exciting because post-Reformation Iceland’s literature and cultural attitudes are often concerned with the country’s medieval works of literature (which continue to be copied by hand), so I also get to think about the Middle Ages from a new point of view. My current projects reflect this:

    • I’m just starting a new postdoctoral research project at the University of Copenhagen’s Arnamagnæan Institue, funded by the European Commission through a Marie Curie Individual Fellowship. I will be researching the manuscripts and scribal networks connected to a wealthy and influential Icelander named Magnús Jónsson í Vigur, who lived in the 17th century. The manuscripts contain a huge amount of Old Norse literature, so I will be thinking a lot about the early reception of medieval texts and the relationship between script and print in Iceland. One of the main outputs of this project will be an electronic edition of one of Magnús’s manuscripts.
    • I’m collaborating with three colleagues to prepare an edition of Ambrósíus saga og Rósamundu, an Icelandic text that first appears in manuscript around 1700, based on a Danish story that uses well-known motifs and themes from medieval literature, including the ‘pound of flesh’ motif.

    In addition to these larger projects, I’m also working on other publications, including a short introductory book on Old Norse literature that I was invited to write by Kismet Press, a new UK-based Open Access publisher.

    What do you think is the best part of being a medievalist?

    I love how diverse the field of medieval studies is — not simply in terms of the vast span of time we’ve agreed to lump together as ‘medieval’, but in terms of the variety of approaches we use to study the period, the many different sub-fields, and the intrinsically interdisciplinary nature of what many (if not all) of us do.

    Why did you join the CSM? What other societies do you belong to?

    In 2015 I noticed the CSM’s increased presence on social media and this reminded me that I had been considering joining for a while. Having been in Europe for the past 7+ years the CSM was not at first an obvious society to join (unfortunately it wasn’t on my radar as an undergraduate), but since finishing my PhD in 2013, I’ve wanted to extend and re-establish my network back into Canada.

    I am also a member of the Viking Society for Northern Research, based in the UK.

    Where can we find/read some of your work?

    My first book, Popular Romance in Iceland, will be out in 2016 from Amsterdam University Press, and I’ve published articles in Saga-BookDigital PhilologyBulletin of International Medieval Research, and Leeds Studies in English. I’m also active on Twitter (@smcdwer) and during September 2015, I tweeted about a different Old Norse romance every day with the hashtag #riddarasaga; it’s this kind of literature that my forthcoming book discusses. The CSM was also kind enough to re-tweet some of this at the time, and a full archive can be accessed from my website.

    Any final thoughts?

    I’m really glad to be a member of the CSM, and it’s been lovely hearing about other members through Medievalist of the Month! I look forward to the possibility of meeting these and other members at conferences in the future.


  • 6 Jan 2016 1:05 PM | Andrew Klein

    Happy February! This month's profile is of Professor John Osborne (Art History, Carleton University).

    Education  

    B.A. Art History, Carleton University (1973); M.A. Medieval Studies, U of Toronto (1974); Ph.D. History of Art, Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London (1979)

    You’re arriving at an airport for a research trip and the border control agent asks what you do. How do you answer?

    Professor of Medieval Studies

    What projects are you currently working on?

    Book on “Rome in the 8th century”; co-editing a volume on the Roman church of S. Maria Antiqua

    What do you think is the best part of being a medievalist?

    Direct encounters with the material culture/physical legacy of the Middle Ages (manuscripts, buildings, etc.),  I still remember the first time I held a medieval manuscript in my hands!

    Why did you join the CSM? What other societies do you belong to?

    I wanted to help promote medieval studies in Canada.  Others include: Medieval Academy of America, Italian Art Society, International Center of Medieval Art

    Where can we find/read some of your work?

    Papers of the British School at Rome; Gesta; Byzantion; Early Medieval Europe; Mediaeval Studies; The Burlington Magazine; RACAR; Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte; and of course Florilegium!

    Any final thoughts?

    Medieval Studies rocks!  I cannot think of any subject that is more fascinating, more challenging, and ultimately more intellectually rewarding.


  • 7 Dec 2015 1:08 PM | Andrew Klein

    December 2015's Medievalist of the Month is Sara Ellis Nilsson. Sara, a lecturer at the University of Gothenburg, tells us...:

    I have a PhD in History from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden; an MA in Medieval Studies (early) from the University of York, UK; and a BA in Psychology and Medieval Studies from the University of British Columbia.

    You’re arriving at an airport for a research trip and the border control agent asks what you do. How do you answer?

    Good question! I would probably mention the specifics of the research trip (e.g. going to the British Library to read some old books on saints), that I am a medievalist whose speciality is the early Scandinavian Middle Ages in general and early Scandinavian social history in particular. I assume that my answer would prompt a “what exactly is that?!” response (or dead silence), and I would regale them with a short lecture on the Christianization, the cults of saints and how fragments of liturgical books are integral to understanding history, at which point they would either sign up for my course or fall asleep.

    What projects are you currently working on?

    My PhD research focused on the new cults of local saints that appeared in Scandinavia in connection with the region’s Christianization. An important part of the project was identifying when and where the veneration of the new saints began, while a comparative approach highlighted the situation in Denmark and Sweden and identified similarities or differences elsewhere in medieval Europe. The main source material included fragments of the earliest liturgical books.

    As a new post-doctoral researcher, I am currently in a transition period and am working on developing a postdoc project on the presentation of medieval bishops in Scandinavian hagiography. Otherwise, I am also starting work on a project on the experience of disability in early medieval Scandinavia, partly linked to the relationship between parents and children in that period.

    At present, I am also finishing several forthcoming articles based on my dissertation, in addition to another article (the idea for which emerged during work on my thesis) which develops a theoretical approach to identifying popular piety in the source-poor early medieval period in Scandinavia. In addition, I plan to continue my research on early Scandinavian Calendar fragments and the so-called “red days” on which my dissertation is partly based, extending it to include all holy days throughout the entire medieval period.  

    What do you think is the best part of being a medievalist?

    One of the best parts of being a medievalist is that you do not have to feel trapped in one discipline. By that, I mean you can identify with, for example, archaeologists and at the same time, sympathize with historians. The flexibility of the field is inviting, while the humour shared by most medievalists makes some tougher aspects of academic life bearable. Plus, it is a fascinating time period and the books are (mostly) written on parchment!

    Why did you join the CSM? What other societies do you belong to?

    The reason I initially joined the CMS (on Twitter!) is simply because I am a Canadian and a medievalist. Plus, I’m currently living overseas and I would like to keep in touch with what is going on in medieval studies in Canada. 

    I also belong to a number of other societies more specifically related to my research: Hagiographica Septentrionalia – Society for Hagiographic Studies and PREMODs (Premodern Nordic interdisciplinary network for PhD candidates and post-docs). Moreover, as I have been based in Sweden for a number of years, I belong to the Swedish History Society (Svenska historiska föreningen) for historians.

    Where can we find/read some of your work?

    I have published articles online in the journals The Heroic Age and Mirator. My other publications include those in various peer-reviewed anthologies such as Personligt talat (an interdisciplinary publication in which all contributions deal with life-writing), a few book reviews, and my doctoral dissertation (published at the University of Gothenburg press).

    More information and links are available on my Academia.edu page or here:  http://historiskastudier.gu.se/english/Staff/sara-ellis-nilsson.

    Any final thoughts?

    The fact that popular culture continues to be interested in the medieval period (and that includes the Vikings!) creates hope that medievalists will always be needed. A constant concern, however, is whether or not my work is “useful”, especially in an era in which science, or even modern history, is a more easy sell. I remain hopeful that the study of the distant past will always be deemed important in the end!



  • 8 Nov 2015 1:10 PM | Andrew Klein


    We're continuing our new series, Medievalist of the Month, with Lucie Laumonier. Lucie tells us...

    I have an M.A. in history from Université de Sherbrooke (Québec) and a PhD in history from Université de Sherbrooke and Université Montpellier 3 (France). I did my PhD in a cotutelle program (joined PhD), which is a huge advantage: two advisors, membership in two universities, being immersed in two very different, yet complementary academic environments. At the moment I’m a postdoctoral fellow, thanks to a Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture grant. For one year I was at University in Minnesota in the US but I’m about to transfer to Concordia University in Montréal (end of October 2015) for the second year of the postdoc.

    You're arriving at an airport for a research trip and the border control agent asks what you do. How do you answer?

    It’s not a question I’m frequently asked. When it happens, I usually say that I “do history”, that I go to archives centers. It’s vague but it works.

    What projects are you currently working on?

    I’m working on my postdoc project, based on notarial sources (wills, marriage contracts…) and judiciary documents from the Parlement de Toulouse, which focuses on families from Languedoc (south of France) from the 1250s to the end of the 15th century. I’m interested in the concepts of “crisis”, “norm” and “normality”.

    At the same time, I'm working on papers oriented towards social history (urban or religious); for instance, I’m preparing a paper on devotional confraternities in Montpellier. 

    Finally, I am a part of two research projects. One project, lead by Geneviève Dumas (Université de Sherbrooke) focuses on urban books of accounts ; this other, coordinated by Gabriel Pizzorno and Daniel Lord Smail (Harvard) aims to create a data base of inventories of goods.

    What do you think is the best part of being a medievalist?

    What I like best is being able to consider the relationshop between the past and the present, and being able to question the idea of “progress” in social practices. The Middle Ages are an interesting lens for looking at our own era, and teach us a lot about ourselves. 

    Why did you join the CSM? What other societies do you belong to?

    I’m a member of the CSM so I can keep up to date on research throughout the country and to meet other people who work on fascinating subjects! I really like the multidisciplinarity of the Society. I’m also a member of the Société des études médiévales du Québec, of the SHMESP which is a French association, and I have been up to now a member of the Center for Medieval Studies at the University of Minnesota.

    Where can we find/read some of your work?

    My publications list is available on Academia.edu; some articles are online on journal websites (MédiévalesMemini). My book is also available on the publisher’s website, Brepols.

    Any final thoughts?

    The “Medievalist of the Month” series is an excellent idea for increasing awareness of the research happening in Canada!


  • 11 Aug 2015 1:16 PM | Andrew Klein

    Welcome to our new series, Medievalist of the Month! Every month a new medievalist will tell us a bit about their research and their involvement in the society. Up first is Lori Jones, who tells us...

    I have an MA in International Affairs from Carleton University, and a second MA in History (Medieval and Renaissance Studies Specialization) from the University of Ottawa. One might wonder how I moved from one field to the other, but it really isn't that far of a jump: it's all about studying how people in different cultures and in different time periods experience life. I'm now a PhD Candidate in History at the University of Ottawa.

    You're arriving at an airport for a research trip and the border control agent asks what you do. How do you answer?

    I actually just experienced that exact question at a couple of border crossings this spring and summer. It is sometimes a tricky one to answer, because you have to gauge what kind of reception your answer is likely to get and tailor it accordingly. I usually say that I'm researching the plague (which is true), and after getting a horrified glance from the border agent, I soften my answer by saying that I'm doing library research and teaching classes on the history of disease. Sometimes the agent shows some interest, but usually I get passed through pretty quickly after that. Guess no one wants to think about disease.

    What projects are you currently working on?

    My PhD research looks at how people's perceptions of where the plague came from (geographically and historically) changed over time. It includes a detailed look at the changing textual contents of two plague treatises that had a very long life in manuscript and print in England and France. I'm also involved in a side project that identifies and tracks cropped medieval manuscript images that circulate on the internet (and in publications, documentaries, etc.) with captions that incorrectly identify them as images of the plague. It's quite amazing how quickly some of these mislabelled images go viral and spread misinformation; at the same time, I'm quite pleased to see how many people are willing to 'fix' the error once they've been notified about it. I am also the moderator of the University of Ottawa-Carleton University medieval/early modern email group. 

    What do you think is the best part of being a medievalist?

    I think the best part is simply that it is fun. Medievalists tend to be rather quirky sometimes, which makes them really interesting people to meet. That plus studying a time period that feels both familiar and oddly unfamiliar at the same time. 

    Why did you join the CSM? What other societies do you belong to?

    I joined the CSM so that I could be part of a supportive local community. The medievalist community in Canada isn't huge, so being a member of CSM makes you feel like you are part of a family. I also belong to the Medieval Academy of America, la Société des études médiévales du Québec, la Groupe de recherche sur les pouvoirs et les sociétés de l'Occident médiéval et moderne, the Early Book Society, and several history of medicine societies. 

    Where can we find/read some of your work?

    I have an Academia.edu page, where I've posted an article, a blog post, some book reviews, and a number of conference abstracts. I have several articles being considered for publication at the moment, so hopefully there will be more on the Academia site soon!

    Any final thoughts?

    Being a medievalist in an era of sustained political pressure to produce 'saleable' commodities is tough, but it becomes all the more rewarding when we can show that we are working on topics that have 'present' relevance.  Being human means that studying the past is relevant!

    Thanks, Lori!

    Interested in being a Medievalist of the Month?

    Any thoughts on what we should be asking our Canadian medievalists/medievalists in Canada?

    Get in touch at canmedievalistspr@gmail.com, or on Facebook or Twitter!


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