National Gallery John Donne Portrait Appeal

Portrait of DonneThere aren’t that many portraits of John Donne, and one of the best, the one you see here, has been in various private collections and less than accessible. This portrait was painted in Donne’s twenties, around the 1590s, the period when Jonson said “Donne wrote wrote all his best poetry,” the era in which we think most of the love poetry was written. The portrait was almost certainly done with Donne’s supervision. It’s Donne done as a melancholy lover, complete with disheveled and pricey expensive lace collars undone, and a Latin epigram. Donne is wearing an exceedingly romantic black floppy hat, and there’s a certain earnest directness to his gaze that suggests the suffering lover. You can read about the portrait here, and you should because it’s interesting.

This is more than likely the portrait Donne described in his will and left to Robert Ker, later 1st Earl of Ancrum (1578–1654):

I give to my honourable and faithful friend Mr Robert Karr of his Majesties Bedchamber that Picture of myne wch is taken in Shaddowes and was made very many yeares before I was of this profession [i.e. a minister].

England’s National Portrait Gallery is trying to raise funds to buy the protrait for the Gallery’s collection. You can read about the appeal here, and donate, very easily even from North America. The National Portrait Gallery must raise £1,652,000 by the end of May.

While I’m on the topic of Donne, I want to point to this nifty .pdf chart you can download and print: John Donne on Maps and the Microcosm. There’s even intelligent commentary. It’s an effective and nicely done exploration of the two motifs, and quite useful in teaching. The broadsheet is a production of the University of Wisconsin’s The History of Cartography Project, which has a series of downloadable broadsheets on “Literary Selections on Cartography.”

The First Annual Kalamazoo Bloggers’ Guild Meeting: What Say Ye?

Dr. V and Ancrene Wiseass are beginning to plan the First Annual Kalamazoo Bloggers’ Guild Meeting, but they’re running into some logistic difficulties and would like your input on several matters. To wit:

  1. If you’re thinking of coming, please let them know in the comments thread here. If you’re thinking of bringing a friend, colleague, significant other, familiar, or minion, please let them know that as well. We’d like to get a sense of how large the gathering will be.
  2. We’ve been told that it would be best to meet early in the conference so’s we can keep meeting and greeting over the weekend. This means we should probably aim to converge on either Thursday or Friday evening. Which night would you prefer, and what time frame would be best?
  3. The location of our guild-hall has yet to be determined, and we’d very much appreciate your suggestions. The shelter in the park near the pond is one possibility, but we’d have to cross our fingers and hope for good weather. Any other nominations?

N.B. I’m planning to be there. I know Ancrene Wiseass and Dr. V. are sensitive to issues of anonymity, so do feel free to let them know, even privately, if you can attend. As for me, I’m blind as a bat, and currently semi-deaf, and can’t remember faces, but please do introduce yourself. I’d love to meet you.

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It’s not Medieval, but It is Irish: On Irish Traditonal Music

For the last couple of days, I’ve been tormented by various people’s organizations’ ideas of what Irish music sounds like; mostly it’s been sort of like elevator music in dialect. If I’m lucky, it’s been Enya. Here are some alternatives.

The Chieftains

You can’t really talk about traditional Irish music without mentioning the Chieftains. They brought traditional musicians into the twentieth century, aiding in not just popularizing Irish music all over the world, to generations, but doing an enmourmousservice in preserving the tradition. The Best of the Chieftains is a compilation from three of the earlier, and best, of the Chieftains’ albums: The Chieftains 7, The Chieftains 8, and Boil the Breakfast Early—three of the band’s recordings from the late 1970s. You”ll hear former members Matt Molloy on flute and vocalist/bodhran player Kevin Cunniffe now better known from Planxty, the Bothy band and solo performances. I’m particularly fond of “Boil The Breakfast Early” and “The Job of Journeywork.”

Gaelic Storm

This is a compilation album, featuring tunes from the previous three albums, with a couple of new ones. I think this is an excellent way to try Gaelic Storm. They began to become popular outside of Santa Monica, where they began as the favorite at a local Irish bar, after their appearance in the steerage scene of the film Titanic. My favorite of all their songs is “Johnny Jump Up,” about the mystical powers of cider. They’re a bar band, but they’re full of energy and lots of fun to listen to, even if you don’t dance.

Patrick Ball

Turlough O’Carolan (Toirdhealbhach Ó Cearbhalláin) was a blind Irish harper and composer who lived 1670 to 1738. He left a legacy of fabulous music. To be fair, it’s clear that Turolough was well educated in current musical styles, but still, there’s much in the music he left us that is not typical of music in the eighteenth century. This album, which features the music of O’Carolan, is a lovely introduction to O’Carolan’s music, and a fine example of Patrick Ball’s talents.

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Cocidius

image of the Cocidius figureThe BBC Web site is reporting the discovery of a 2000 year old carving of the British warrior-god Cocidius on Hadrian’s Wall, in Northumberland near Chester’s Fort. The language of the article, and of articles on the Web, implies that this “northern god,” as the BBC puts it, was Germanic. The carving, as you can sort of tell from the image, shows a figure with a shield in his outstretched left hand, and a sword or spear in his right; the sort of deity you’d expect Romans stationed in the cold hinterlands of Northumbria to favor.

Cocidius is quite Celtic, and is in fact, British or Brythonic. His name contains the word coch, still the word for red in Welsh today. This isn’t the only image of Cocidius; he was quite popular, especially with Romans. In the East, around Hadrian’s wall, he was associated with forests, and hunting. There’s an inscription to him at the old Roman fort in Ebchester (known to the Romans as Vindomara) that refers to him as Cocidius VERNOSTONUS, or “alder tree.” An altar in Risingham shows him hunting against a backdrop of trees (Green, Miranda. Dictionary of Celtic Myth and Legend. Thames and Hudson, 1992. 62).

In North and West Cumbria Cocidius was closely associated with the Roman god Mars. There are dedications to him at the old Roman fort of Birdoswald. At Bewcastle two silver repousse placques, complete with inscription, show Cocidius with spear and shield. There’s a reference in the Ravenna Cosmography to a fanum Cocidi that’s almost certainly Cocidius (Green, 62).

It’s quite possible that many of the unnamed deities along Hadrian’s Wall featuring hunting scenes, sometimes with horns, or the warrior with spear /sword and shield are Cocidius.

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Dictionary of Anglo-Noman Online

The Anglo-Norman Dictionary is now available on line, with no restrictions, (you don’t need a log in or proxy server) and at no charge.

The Dictionary is searchable in a variety of ways, including words in the in context quotations, by headwords/lemmas, and via the English glosses to quotations. Entries, where appropriate, are linked to the associated and developing corpus of Anglo-Norman Source Texts. The Anglo-Norman Dictionary currently includes:

  • A-F of the revised second edition
  • G-Z of the first edition

The new version of F, completed in 2005, is only available online, at the moment. A revision of G is in development and will be followed by H (in 2007).

Even if you’re otherwise uninterested in Anglo-Norman, if you’re a medievalist who works with Middle English, Old French, or medieval Irish texts, you would do well to read the essay that accompanies the Dictionary, Anglo-Norman: A Brief Introduction. The site includes a wealth of related materials, including some interesting Articles on Anglo-Norman Topics.

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Digital Humanities Summer Institute June 19 to 23, 2006

For the fifth summer, the University of Victoria is hosting a Summer Institute for Digital Humanities. A week long resideency program, the institute offers an opportunity to “discuss, to learn about, and to advance skills in new computing technologies influencing the work of those in the Arts, Humanities and Library communities.” A combination of seminars, lectures, and workshops, the Institute “brings together faculty, staff, and graduate student theorists, experimentalists, technologists, and administrators from different areas of the Arts, Humanities, Library and Archives communities and beyond to share ideas and methods, and to develop expertise in applying advanced technologies to activities that impact teaching, research, dissemination and preservation.”

The curriculum has three levels, from beginning (an introduction to encoding digital texts using TEI guidelines and XML based DTDs) to an Advanced level, that emphasizes large project management. You can even apply for a scholarship.

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Wel koude he knowe a draughte of Londoun ale

The ThamesPilot project is a cooperative effort from libraries and museums along the Thames river. The British Library and the ThamesPilot project have combined resources to create Image of a monk quaffing from manuscript BL Sloane_2435_f.44van archive about the history and cultures of the Thames river. Thames Riverside Pubs is one of their efforts. An attractive, browseable presentation, it offers a history of ale drinking and brewing in England, a history of pubs, and inns, and hostelryes, especially along the Thames, from the Roman era to today. There’s lots of interesting historical information about pub culture, and about brewing. The tour is image-rich and a useful resource for medievalists teaching about Chaucer, or for pretty much any literary/historical era. There’s a Flash version and a non-Flash version. (via Peter Scott’s Library Blog).

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