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Celtic Fonts and Backgrounds

From a rough analysis of my logs and the stats collected by Site Meter the most popular interior page of my site is the one on Celtic Fonts, and the most frequently entered search phrase, in terms of my Celtic Studies Resources is “Celtic backgrounds.” Now, I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure the people searching on “Celtic backgrounds” are not seeking Celtic cultural history, but rather, web backgrounds. That said, I’ve created an annotated page of links to sites with Celtic inspired web art here.

Detail from Hans Memling Annunciatior showing a "book light"

Lighting the Spark: The Medieval Itty-Bitty Book Light

Detail from Hans Memling Annunciatior showing a "book light"
Metropolitan Museum of Art

At the request of Janice Safran and Heather Blatt I’m posting this small detail from the Annunciation of 1465-75 produced by the workshop of Rogier van der Weyden in Brussels, Belgium — possibly by Hans Memling— and in the collections of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. Sifran and Blatt are interested in hearing from anyone who’s seen a similar object in other images or heard one described in writing. They are presenting a paper on “Lighting the Spark: The Medieval Itty-Bitty Book Light” and are in hopes of locating similar images. They have already explored The Annunciation from the left wing of the Dijon Altarpiece (1393-99) by Melchior Broederlam in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Dijon, France; the Annunciation of 1482 by Hans Memling in Brugge, Belgium, also in the collections of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.

And More Medievalist Blogs

S. Worthen, of the Owlfish blog has very cleverly and thoughtfully compiled an annotated list of medievalist blogs.

Why Medievalists are Digital?

Sasha Volokh, in response to an interesting post by Garrett on the preponderance of blogging lawyers, writes:

Similarly, when I was first on the Internet about eight years ago and participating in or lurking on various medieval literature listservs, someone posted a theory on why medievalists were more wired than their counterparts who studied Shakespeare, the Romantics, and so on. The theory had to do with how e-mail and posting on listservs — anonymous forwards and the like — was similar to the way writing was treated in the Middle Ages and different from the more modern ideas of the fixed text and the authoritative author. All very interesting, but it was also argued (convincingly, to me) that medievalists are more wired because English departments have fewer medievalists than Shakespeareans (some small schools may have only one), so medievalists are more isolated unless they talk with their own kind on the Internet.

I think that there may be something to the rarity of medievalists as a species inclining us to form online communities, but I also think that the raw materials of our trade—manuscripts, glosses, concordances— may tend to make the web and hypertexts more familiar to us as extensions of our scholarly lives. Much like Garrett’s suggestion that lawyers take to linking because of the emphasis on citations in legal writing, medievalists early on took to hypertexts because glossed manuscripts are hypertextual by nature, as are canon tables. Moreover we took to the digital realm early because digitizng manuscripts allows us to see and to access things we couldn’t before. This is certainly true of my experience as a digital medievalist.

I can also point to other medievalists with a similar affinity for things digital. Read, for instance, this essay by medievalist James I. McNelis, III, on his affinity for the Palm Pilot, in which he equates it to the wax tablets used by earlier scribes.

Birth of a Blog

This is by way of an experiment for me; I’m new to blogging. Nicholas Urfé’s inexplicably fancy trash and my friend Paul’s iPaulo got me thinking about blogs as ways of creating communities, and that led me to think about blogs in instructional technology, serious and otherwise.

I’ve had my digitalmedievalist site for years, but I find I’m not keeping it updated the way I’d like. So I thought I’d try blogging as a quick way to do small updates. For instance, I’d like to point out that the Dublin Institute, famous for physics and Irish scholarship, has put high quality scanned images of Lebor na hUidre/The Book of the Dun Cow on line. This is really cool, and it joins the “other” major Irish manuscript, Lebar Na Núachongbála/The Book of Leinster, both digitized as part of the ISOS or Irish Script On Screen project.