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March 1, 2016

I have been (intentionally) neglecting this wee bloggie because I am pouring every ounce of my focus and energy into writing this dissertation and crawling towards that hazy light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve been feeling rather stretched thin lately, so I’ve needed an extended break for my own sanity mostly. On top of recent life challenges and dissertating, I also have one conference presentation coming up (I’m revisiting Arthur’s Avalon for that one!), and more importantly I have to prepare for my UConn Humanities Institute presentation in April. That one has me really nervous!

I do have loads of new updates composed in my head, though, so those of you with ESP may be able to learn what I’ve been up to! In short, the biggest update is my change of focus: I’m stepping away from landscape just a little bit to explore interactions between oral and literate practices in Edwardian Dublin instead (think M.T. Clanchy’s classic study of literate modes applied to colonial Ireland – he is the giant upon whose shoulders I am wibbly-wobbling). Landscape still plays a significant role in all this, but it is no longer the organizing framework for my project. I’m really happy about this change, it has given me new confidence that all the pieces will come together just swimmingly (eventually)!

But, writing any more here means I’m not writing my chapters, so updates will have to wait for a bit. In the meantime, I am posting snippets from my social media post about my recent research trip to the Dublin archives, minus a few personal details. Holding these manuscripts, smelling them, puzzling over them…I felt like a real medieval scholar for probably the first time in my life. It was an incredible experience, and one I hope to write more about when the time is right (with photos!).

Posted 25 January 2016:

I spent the last week and a half immersed in the Dublin City Archives, diligently transcribing from a collection of late medieval civic records known as the Liber Albus Dubliniensis (White Book of Dublin). Really tough work, and mentally taxing, but it also felt pretty amazing to be entrusted with such ancient manuscripts! I learned quite a few things about Dublin, and about myself, along the way:

1) You haven’t really written a proper history of medieval Dublin until you’ve spilled Irish Pale Ale all over your Latin transcriptions. Oh yes, there were pub lunches. The Irish pub lunch will get you through ANY paleographical road block.

2) In Ireland, purple Skittles aren’t grape, they’re black currant. Replacing lime Skittles with green apple rightly sparks international outrage (they are still lime in co. Wexford, for the record).

3) My Latin paleography skills are no longer totally abysmal, only slightly so! There is hope!!

4) When you are the temporary Keeper of the Liber Albus, there are no snack breaks. There are no bathroom breaks. There is only you, and the Liber. And it’s exhausting.

5) Apart from my first semester as a student and teacher at UConn, this was the single hardest task I’ve ever accomplished. I wanted to quit every single day. (But I didn’t).

6) I can’t resist a full Irish brekky. Or a 12th century pub. Full Irish brekky in a 12th century pub? HEAVEN ON EARTH.

7) I was greatly disappointed to discover there are no oompa loompas at the Guinness Storehouse. Who actually makes the stout, then? I still have no idea. But I can now pour the perfect pint! I’m actually certified!

8) Dublin buses are insane. You can get into the city centre, but you can never get out. Which made me feel a bit like Alice in Looking Glass World.


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