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Archive for the ‘Languages’ Category

When thinking about what to write about today, I decided to have a look at Wikipedia’s “Born on this day” feature to see if there was anybody food-related on the list. Happy 49th Birthday, Yotam Ottolenghi! And thank you for being born on this day; this blog post wouldn’t exist without you. I’d never heard of him before – I’ve had quite a few years away from doing any real cooking, so haven’t been adding to my recipe book collection.  His food looks gorgeous, really rich and magical, perfect for a feast. (more…)

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A true feast must look beautiful as well as taste beautiful. It must take place in rich surroundings, and those attending should wear their finest raiment. While yesterday’s post focused on the hard work of kitchen staff creating the feast, today’s is all about the setting of the stage.
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John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on this day in 1892; today he would have been 124. He deserves to have his birthday celebrated with such fireworks as he gifted Bilbo on the occasion of his eleventy-first birthday (also the day of Frodo’s 33rd birthday): (more…)

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Cherbourg's Old Irish studies, 17 March 2015 (my photo).

Cherbourg’s Old Irish studies, 17 March 2015 (my photo).

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Cherbourg and I would like to wish you all a Happy Burns Night! Note: Cherbourg is my familiar and travelling companion, in the form of an orange octopus, if you don’t already know him.

Cherbourg practicing his "Ode to the Haggis", Burns Night January 2015 (My photo).

Cherbourg practicing his “Ode to the Haggis”, Burns Night January 2015 (My photo).

My favourite Robert Burns poem is unquestionably Tam O’Shanter, an epic ghost story (with entertaining social commentary) taking place one night in the drinking establishments and on the streets of Ayr. The language is striking, funny, rich, and just generally wonderful. You can watch an animation here, with Brian Cox (actor, not physicist!) reading the poem. It was created by Spiral Productions for the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, in Alloway, near Ayr.

I’ve never made a haggis from scratch myself, and am not sure how easy it would be these days to get all the necessary ingredients, but there is a recipe in the Glasgow Cookery Book which sounds wonderful, with a vivid language and poetry (possibly the Poetry of Ew, to the more squeamish) in itself. You can read it in the photo below.

How to make haggis from scratch, the Glasgow Cookery Book, p.126 (1962 edition; my photo).

How to make haggis from scratch, the Glasgow Cookery Book, p.126 (1962 edition; my photo).

Once made, you mix it with neeps and tatties, and tuck in:

Cherbourg enjoying his haggis, neeps, and tattoos (my photo).

Cherbourg enjoying his haggis, neeps, and tatties (my photo).

It’s quite common to give the haggis its own wee dram of whisky, and to have one yourself. Sometimes you can go too far, however, with both whisky and haggis:

Cherbourg overdid both the haggis and the whisky (my photo).

Cherbourg overdid both the haggis and the whisky (my photo).

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Tomorrow night I’m attending a reception for alumni of Glasgow University’s School of Modern Languages and Cultures (of which I am one; this isn’t a reckless boast about gatecrashing). In addition to – I hope – meeting up with old classmates and tutors, this is about making professional and academic connections as well. Networking is not, as a general rule, one of my favourite activities – once I’ve published this post, I wonder if I should dig out my copy of Networking for people who hate networking by Devora Zack (Berrett-Koehler, 2010)? But it is essential, and I usually find that I meet a lot of very interesting people who are worth my nervousness. (more…)

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La Belle Iseult (1858) by William Morris (1834-1896).  Oil on canvas. Tate Britain.

La Belle Iseult (1858) by William Morris (1834-1896). Oil on canvas. Tate Britain.

I’ve always been impressed by the (first and second wave) Pre-Raphaelites’ many talents. They were not just artists, and as a lifelong student of languages (medieval languages in particular), William Morris’ work in translating Old French and Old Norse romances and epics, is of particular interest. When I first began researching the use of original medieval works by the Pre-Raphaelites, I was focusing more on such use in their art. Morris’ only painting, of Janey Morris as La Belle Iseult, is an obvious example (look to the left). (more…)

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This looks like a wonderful employment and research opportunity for post-docs with good knowledge of Latin and hagiography!

FMRSI

Deadline: 19 November 2013

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Amsterdam, Biblioteca Philosophica Hermetica MS 1, f. 118, detail:
His castle falls on the duke who killed King Lancelot.
(© Amsterdam, Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica, via the Lancelot-Graal Project.)

Who remembers all the excitement over the auction of the Rochefoucauld Grail in December 2010? It’s a beautiful set of three volumes of the Estoire del Saint Graal. Although it is privately owned, you can see digital images of some of the illuminations and illustrations on the Lancelot-Graal website. Perhaps what you don’t know about items going up for auction is that for some days in advance of the auction, it is possible to visit the auction house to view such items close at hand, often closer than would be possible in a museum. In the case of books such as the Rochefoucauld Grail volumes, you can be lucky enough to have a rare opportunity to sit at a table in the auction house, to – carefully! – leaf through the pages. I duly went to Sotheby’s on Bond Street one early December lunchtime, to have a look at that manuscript. I had heard nothing of any British public library or museum putting in a bid for the Rochefoucauld Grail, and was beginning to dread that this would be my only opportunity to have a good look at it. Unfortunately, I only had one hour for lunch, and when I arrived, others were already looking at the various volumes. (more…)

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William of Norwich (via History in an Hour)

Framing Medieval Bodies, a collection of essays edited by Sarah Kay and Miri Rubin, is one of those books that one reads at University and gets positively giddy about, a book that one never quite forgets. I have closely followed the work of both women since I first took that volume off the library shelf as an undergraduate with definite medieval leanings. I hope you can imagine, given the above touching anecdote from my early days in academia, how utterly giddy I was upon finding out that Miri Rubin was speaking at Queen Mary’s at the University of London, on Miraculous Cures and a Martyr’s Virtue in the Twelfth Century, as part of Queen Mary’s Centre for the History of Emotions’ lecture series on Religion and Medicine. I had only recently begun following the Centre’s blog, clearly not a moment too soon! (more…)

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