Thursday, June 30, 2016

Moralist Individualism in Medieval Literary Culture

Picture from a hagiographic text.

When we read a text how do we think of ourselves in relation to the text? For most of us, if taken literally, we probably do not think that the "I" even has a role-- if we read a book, then it is merely our perception and reception of the narrative which matters. In other words, it is a purely personal affair.

This was not the perception of medievalists, however, who never experienced literature as a solo affair. Because few people were literate, in order to hear of a written narrative, people would need to find a bard, or other such professional performer, to recite and perform the narrative. This much we know, but it, of course, go deeper than a mere dialectic between audience and performer.

Stories in medieval times reflected something about the community that they were aimed toward. We still see this today in terms of genre: content reflects the target audience. But during the medieval period, textual content mattered a great deal. Stories from Arthurian romances to religious sermons served first and foremost, as a defense against evil. People would orient their consumption of texts not as mere entertainment but as primers on how to live more Godly.

To take a example, we should consider what we now perceive as the hagiographic genre of literature. Gaining widespread appeal during the 12th to 15th centuries, hagiographic texts were records, usually fictionalized in some aspect, of the lives of Saints; they told of the saint's grand exploits and moral preservation against the forces of evil.

For aristocratic young men and women, such narratives were actually required reading. Indeed, so popular were they, that it was not uncommon for them to be read aloud at church during certain events. Elaine Treharne suggests that so enjoyed the narratives in these texts, that it denotes a desire to participate in the stories themselves and share the burden and delights of the narrative (63, Medieval Literature: A Very Short Introduction). Thus, readership was more than consumption. It was, as I remarked, about integration of the personal into the pre-personal, the community.

Such integration is exemplified by the hagiographic texts depicting the lives of female saints. Women readers, especially interested in how to better their own existence and connect it to the Lord, consumed any and all texts on their behavior in an effort to mimic their actions and better their community; a text, South English Legendary, was a widely read text on the lives of womanly saints (though it was not a text exclusively focused on woman saints). So popular were these texts, that sometimes aristocratic women would become anchoresses-- people, all women, who shut themselves away from teh world in order to contemplate God. Inspired from the Katherine Group of saints lives, their principal guiding text was called the Ancrene Wisse and inspired the participants to correct their behavior in accordance to saintly conduct (64).

Not everyone during this period was isolated, however, for the desire to tether the public and the private consumption of literature also motivated the performance of the most communal form of literature, drama. Such dramas were usually accounts of the life of Christ put on by the laity for the laity (with guildsmen usually responsible for different parts). Two surviving dramatic plays survive from medieval Dublin-- The Play of the Sacrament as well as the English morality play The Pride of Life (65). Other plays, mysteries, also existed and usually emphasized multi-linguistic histories with scripts often scripted with several tongues to offer translations for varied performers.

So, to conclude, though we tend to only think of ourselves in relation to a text if we subscribe to a kind of fandom-- such as writing fan fiction, live action role playing or cosplay, or adaptation-- medievalists truly integrated the texts into their lives and values. Which just goes to show, that contemporary regulation of literature to the field of either abstract academics or juvenile fandom, is not only a product of our own economic situation, but also something which was once alien to entire communities.

Works Cited
Treharne, Elaine. Medieval Literature: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: U.P., 2015. Print.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Origins of King Arthur (Notes, Pt.5)

(The following series of notes is to ‘The Great Course’ offering titled King Arthur: History and Legend. Taught by professor Dorsey Armstrong, the course covers close to twelve hours of content. Each entry until the concluding of the course, will focus on the notes I took for each of the 30-minute  lessons. I share them here in hopes that other people find them useful and informative. These notes are slightly reworked to as to be more presentable and the information is simply what I jotted down when listening to the lecture. Each selection of notes corresponds to a single 30-minute lesson.)

1.       When considering the King Arthur legend, we have to keep in mind some historical context; for example, though King Arthur is often depicted as ruling from an illustrious stone castle, and wearing a suit of shiny armor, neither would have existed during the time in which Arthur supposedly lived. Fortifications would have been earth and wood works, whereas armor would have been boiled leather.

2.       An early medieval bard named Merthelen (I am probably spelling that incorrectly; as I only had audio cues to go upon, I cannot maintain the spelling for certain) was likely the inspiration for the character we call today ‘Merlin.’ However, this figure was not linked to Arthur for close to six-hundred years after his death.

3.       Lancelot shows up not in a British text, but a French text, and is added to the Arthurian mythos along with the concept of the roundtable by a French writer.

4.       All though debated, many scholars do believe that an historical King Arthur existed.

5.       However, we need some historical context in order to understand the idea behind what inspired the legend. From the end of the 4th century to the beginning of the 5th, Britian had been Romanized and converted from the traditional Celtric lifetyles. The Romans built Hadrian’s Wall to keep out the Picts and other Northern and Western tribes which had not been Romanized.

6.       By the year 410, those Britons which had been part of the Roman Empire had been part of the imperium for almost four centuries (400 years). Since Rome, at this time, had been sacked (by the Visigoths?), all of the Roman legions deployed outside of Rome had to be recalled to the imperial center.

7.       Without the imperial Roman army to protect them, Britian fell prey to raiding Anglo-Saxon and Norse tribes. The 6th century historian Gildas recount both the slaughter as well as a man who helped push the invading ‘barbarian’ tribes back; two centuries later, Bede gives us the name of this man as Vortigern; likely a local warlord who gained some prestige, Vortigern hired mercenaries from the continent (likely France) to fight the other invading pagan tribes. These mercenaries were led by Hengest and Horsa.

8.       While the mercenaries overcame the other invading tribes, during the fighting they say how the native Britons were ill-suited to defend themselves, and after emerging victorious in battle, decided to settle the Briton’s land themselves. This was the start of the Anglo-Saxon invasion.

9.       For two generations Britain was divided. To the East, ruled the Anglo-Saxons. To the West, ruled people who could be described as Celtic-Romans, individuals who had reverted to a pre-Roman lifestyle, but still embraced aspects of Roman culture and technology. It is in this Celtic-Roman territory that we see the ‘Arthur-figure,’ the person who would likely have been the template for the legend of King Arthur, emerge.

10.   This Arthur-figure, would obviously have been a consummate leader skilled in battle as well as charismatic. However, because the period from 410-600 is truly a dearth of information, it is difficult to say anything definitive about this presumed figure. (This is the time period in which historians dub ‘The Dark Ages’) Part of this lack of information had to do with the times: The Britons had been so focused on merely surviving that they could hardly have given thought to writing down their history as they were fleeing Anglo-Saxon blades. Meanwhile, the Germanic tribes lacked a sophisticated writing system; they could record short message via rune and a rudimentary alphabet, but not much more. So, it is only several centuries later, with the emergence of Old English as an instructed language, that we see written histories starting to be recorded. Unfortunately, these histories do not mention an Arthur figure and they were written hundreds of years after they supposedly transpired.

11.   It is only with that 6th century historian named Gildas, born around the same time as the Arthur-figure, that we get something close to a first-hand account of the Arthur-figure. The history goes along the lines of a figure—Ambrosis Ariainus—challenging the pagan invaders to a battle and emerging victorious. But, as archeology attests, during the time of this Arthur-figure’s victory, was also a transitional generation, while lingual research suggests that his name may have actually been a title, not a proper in in itself. This title, “rearthurmaus” likely denoted a ‘supreme leader.’ The name “Arthur” does not show up until a couple of generations after the period of the alleged historical figure. Researchers have posited that the name—Arthur—may have been an attempt to either Celticize a Roman name or to simplify a longer name or moniker.

12.   In the 6th century, all four of the Roman households in Britian had produced first born sons, and every one of those was named Arthur, thus attesting to both the popularity of the name as well as the belief that a great leader, an Arthur-figure, did indeed exist.

(As an aside, American Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, being a student of the ancient languages, and a fan of Anglo-Saxon history, had once considered placing the mercenary Anglo-Saxon leaders Hengest and Horsa on the U.S seal.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Students! Check this Out! (Digital Collections)

A vast collection of odds and ends from times past, made available once more. This picture, however, is just a random image.

Whether you are a undergraduate, graduate student, or doctoral candidate, these collections are sure to help you out with your research; digitized by the British Library, one of the largest libraries in the world, one can find a plethora of original manuscripts either by searching or emailing a librarian. Feel free to take a look around and keep this source in mind for future possibilities.


(I am sure many researchers are already aware of this, so this post is really more for Undergraduates and Graduate students who are just starting out, but I feel it is something worth sharing, even if many will already know of its existence. That being said, other significant libraries hold similar collections and it will be worth an investigation of which libraries hold specific collections of ancient materials if you are researching something specific)

Monday, June 27, 2016

Producing Medieval Texts

Imagine this as your job: except it is much darker and colder and you do not have a Union.

When we think of textual production today, it seems innocuous. We go to the store and buy our book or movie; sometimes we may think of how it was produced and imagine great printing presses mass-producing innumerable pages with thousands of gallons of black ink, or we may briefly glean a clean high-tech factory in China rolling out tens-of-thousands of shiny new Blu-Ray discs. But for the most part we do not think of textual production because the reason for thinking about production never penetrates into how our labor is exploited; textual production is not our field and so we regulate it to the back of our minds, content to let those whose job directly concerns production to deal with the nuance of production.

However, our medieval ancestors did not have this ability to shun production. Back during a time when technology was limited to the oxen drawn plow and perhaps some handy infrastructural contraptions (windmills, castles, moats, depending on the time period), to produce a writing text was a arduous affair. Yet it was an affair which was vital to the spirituality of the community and necessary to transmit its cultural legacy.

Before the 14th century, when hand-made paper began to be made in large quantities, thus allowing for an expanded reading audience, the traditional material used to record information was specially made animal skins. Since, as Elaine Treharne remarks, many texts in this period were either of a legal or religious nature, these skins-- the documents written on the skins to be more accurate-- produced in what was called a 'scriptoria' (24, Medieval Literature: A Very Short Introduction). Essentially, a scriptoria was a place where religious scribes copied sermons in what was probably the closest that epoch got to a assembly line.

Needles to say, this was a laborious affair; you can imagine copying down page after page of sermon, by hand, using a ink-feather pen and well as a writing system, with little light to work by, and sympathize with those overworked scribes who worked themselves to the bone in the belief that they were doing God's work.

Since conversion to Christianity was often the cornerstone of this copying, it is unsurprising that texts would be produced in fashions other than parchment and skins. Enter, the Franks Casket and the Ruthwell Cross.

Each of these artifacts display a high level of literacy and act as testaments to artistic creation. The Franks Casket, an eight century whalebone casket, has "runic and roman letters carved around the panels in a mixture of Old English and Latin show the richness, multilingualism, and complexity of this early literary culture" (7). Because it was not discovered until the 19th century, and because we know that a text may be a reproduction of an earlier mother text, it is possible that this casket was part of a larger tradition in burials and art; the Ruthwell Cross, a large preaching cross which depicts the story of Christ, combines both artwork and poetry to inspire. Emblazoned with the poem "The Dream of the Rood," which tells of Jesus's crucifixion and resurrection, what the reader witnesses is "the combination of image and word, Germanic rune and Christian subject, anonymous authors and artists, public communal text and demand for personal contemplation" (7). Each artifact reminds the onlooker that textual production was not merely regulated to scraps of hide or paper, but life itself and any material capable of transmitting a message.

Of course, the transmission of these messages can sometimes be hard to decode. Not the least bit because of the availability of translation and language learning guides left behind by our ancestors, but because also of our inability to know when a text was originally composed. Since many classic texts that we know today were only carried on through the ages as oral legends, recited by bards and other performers, when they were copied on paper at different historical conjunctures, it would fall to the learned scribe of the moment to edit and translate to the best of his abilities; this means, for us, taking into account the lingual conventions of the period, the training that the scribe may have had and what literary theoretical framework he may have ascribed toward, and how its performance effected its translation into text and how each subsequent translation would differ from the next translation, how over time each translation would sediment into a textual history which future readers (i.e., you and I) may have missed due to either mere educational difference or lost knowledge (textual translations, for example, being destroyed in times of conflict or pillaged and lost to time). So, when researching the origins of textual production, it is vital to remember that often times a text may, in fact, have earlier origins than we currently know, and that new and exciting research is always taking place to understand and master the history of literature.

Works Cited
 Treharne, Elaine. Medieval Literature: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: U.P., 2015. Print. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Medieval Literary Performance

An example of medieval performance in the Spanish context.

Unsurprisingly, medieval literature and its production-- creation-- as well as its performance, how it was used, is quite different from contemporary usage.

In the modern times, we read texts silently, by ourselves. This is either pleasure reading or it is research, as part of school or university assignments. When we read aloud it is only because we are reading to small children, such as part of their bed-time story, or because it has been incorporated into a lesson plan while we attend school (the classic teacher assignment 'we will each read a paragraph' class). Few people read aloud to themselves for mere pleasure.

Back during the middle ages, however, reading was a social function. Preachers would read aloud to those unable to read as part of conversion, and Bards would recite legends and well known poems to lordly courts and halls (Elaine Treharne 28-9, Medieval Literature: A Very Short Introduction). More than a mere professional function, however, reading aloud was part of the auditory culture, that which enabled the transmission of cultural heritage and tradition across the generations during a time when producing paper and writing utensils was both costly as well as time consuming.

In the everyday existence of the uneducated, oral recitation was often the only form of entertainment they could afford. With light usually coming from a single fireplace or window, a reader's ability was more than merely repeating what was on the page-- it was truly performing the text and making it come alive for the listeners; reading aloud for an audience in medieval times was akin to putting on a one-man show.

The fact that so many labels for the best of these performers exists throughout the cultures, attests to the importance of professional story-tellers; Anglo-Saxons called them bards and scops, the Old Norse tradition named them as skalds, while the French named them as troubadours and trouveres. So it is not surprising that by the 14th and 15th centuries, troops of performers would turn performance into a living by touring the lands, plying their skill in rousing people to a great story.

Indeed, authors of works would often attempt to win their audiences over to their rendition of the text. Why? It was more than mere vain grandiose desire. Since texts often transmitted important fragments of codified information, they often took the form of epics or educational pieces concerning spirituality or history. In order to convey the importance of those pieces of codified information, the performer of the text would need to pay close attention to the individual a groups which they preached toward in order for the narrative to resonate with its audience; an incorrect audience would result in disfavor upon the poem and the performer's livelihood.

While it sounds a bit archaic to today's ears, it is actually very modern: after all, a writer of science fiction (Space Opera) would do well to not sell his novel with Jane Austen Romantic fan-fiction.The two genres are very different. As such, a performer in medieval times would need to think on what genre he is performing and for who; Geoffrey Chacuer, for example, and his elegiacal poem The Book of the Duchess, was written as a eulogy for John of Guant, and it would be wise to perform in in such a manner as to emphasize its tragic but loving nature to a deceased ruler's son (38).

So, as we have seen, while it may not be apparent on the surface that performing texts has significant weight under the surface, there is, in fact, true depth; not only does the piece and performance differ by class, but also by genre in how the performer will recite and enact the text. This performance, in turn, becomes a transmitter for history and culture, and so becomes not merely a entertainment device (though it was that as well) but a delineation of space and artistic practice before a time where the internet enabled a streamlined dichotomy of interests and genres.

Works Cited
Treharne, Elaine. Medieval Literature: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: U.P., 2015. Print.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

New Project: Gameplay

What I have planned may not be as thrilling, but it is more educational... so, yeah.

Part of the difficulty in developing an adventure game when you yourself is not a developer, is how to make the game feel believable.

Previously, I remarked how part of the manner in which I would resolve this dilemma of mine is to rework a blog format into a pseudo-interactive design (part of this entailed removing most of the blog's signs which denoted a blog and to minimize my own inclusion as an author). But, reworking a pre-designed format into something of your choosing is one thing, it is another thing entirely to make the experience enjoyable and something more than a mere linear adventure; I am trying to give the illusion of interaction, not mere [click-click-the end]. So, obviously, I needed to figure out a way to make this work, that would keep people entertained and coming back for more, even probe the depths of my creation for the hidden content you know I intend on inserting.

So I brainstormed different game-play modes.I figured that even if, at the end of the day, the only thing the player was doing was reading, making decisions, and clicking, I could at least determine why and how they click.

So as of right now, I have envisioned several modes of game-play which will alter how the player clicks.The first is Adventure Mode; the second is Combat Mode; while the Third is Mystery Mode.

To offer some preliminary thoughts on each mode...

Adventure Mode: Obviously the largest part of the game, as would be any Arthurian adaptation, adventuring as I am seeing it, will take place around the traversal of an environment. The objective will be to successfully navigate a dangerous environs without succumbing to death (which, in this game, I am hoping to connect, in some manner, to literary theory by encouraging an anti-literal readings). This mode will allow the player to pay close attention to signs-- hints and clues-- which will help them surmount the dangers; sometimes the player will need to locate a protected item, other times they may need to simply overcome a 'test,' a series of challenges beaten by close readings as well as the occasional combat encounter. So, although there is overlap with combat and mystery in adventure mode, it is meant more of a stand-alone experience in the sense that the environments presented to the player are stage-pieces with great intrinsic worth to the narrative and provide a great deal of educational benefit when successfully overcome; navigating set-pieces, therefore, is not the same as wandering around a village or castle, talking with the non-playable characters.

Combat Mode: part of any game, obviously, is combat. Provided, the difficulty here is finding a way to include violence without it becoming overbearing. My focus here is not to make a M-rated video game knock-off, but something that could, reasonably, be used as a companion in schools. Since I have slatted this adaption project to be a Sci-Fi endeavor, this will be especially hard due to the relative intensity of gun violence. In order for this aspect to function smoothly, I will need to figure out a simple, yet deep, combat system which does not overemphasize the bloody while still giving the player strategic satisfaction. As of now, I am think of a rock-paper-scissors routine, but altered in some manner. Before I go more in-depth here, however, I will need to get deeper into the narrative of the adaptation and figure out how preeminent armed encounters are going to be in the game. At this point, however, I can already confirm that I want 'boss encounters' as a feature of the game; not only to lure in a more youthful audience, since they will be expecting epic encounters, but also to add additional narratological weight to certain encounters within the plot, and to add a new dimension to how a narrative is told.

Mystery Mode: this is a mode I have been toying with and as such, do not have a whole lot to remark upon, only that, I feel it is something to pontificate more upon since it would offer the player a more intimate connection to the game's characters. Mystery here means not only locating fabled items or solving riddles, but also experiencing the existential drama of uncovering motivations and inspirations for why certain characters and events have unfolded as they have. Since the text I am adapting is a medieval Arthurian narrative, mystery mode could be the equivalent of a sort of divine revelation upon completion, a sort of godly quest into the interior minds of the heathen or non-knightly (this would at least be the narrative rationale, anyways). As a gameplay mode which stands-in as a form of reading (which specifically, however, I have not yet decided upon but would likely be Reader-Response Criticism), I think it would be worthy to include since it has potential.

The basic idea behind each is that the player will be forced to critically think, to critically shift their gears. With each game play mode emphasizing a different style, and by extension a different manner of textual engagement and reading, one which, I am thinking, I will try and connect to literary theory in some educational fashion, the shifting of modes should help orient players and keep them interested.

Is there more? Of course! This is going to be an in-depth engagement, so there will, of course, be secret locations and quests and even bosses, but more on those later, as I better delineate what and what function those ideas would serve.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Anglo-Saxon Poetry

Done in the style of Anglo-Saxon textualism.

Anglo-Saxon poetry is an interesting affair. Since it existed before the time of many different articulations of poetic scheme, Anglo-Saxon rhyming was bare bones compared to today.

Poetry written by the Anglo-Saxons utilized alliterative schema; this means that each line of a poem had four stressed syllables with a "wild" sound inserted somewhere in-between those which were stressed. In contemporary renditions of Anglo-Saxon poetry, though the four stressed syllables in each line were separated by a caesura-- a space-- in the middle, thus placing the first two stressed syllables in the first half-line and the other two in the second half line, during the time of the Anglo-Saxons themselves, the void between the two lines did not exist; as Elaine Treharne explains "instead, all early English poetry is laid out in the manuscript as if it were prose" (22) while explaining that the caesura was used since it was ideal for oral performance, as a sign marking certain cues to the reciter.

An additional feature of Anglo-Saxon poetry was something we do not have today. It was called the 'riddle poem.' The feature of this riddle poem is fairly self-explanatory-- it was a riddle but also a poem, where the reader, using clues from the text, would attempt to uncover the speaker's identity.

All though much of the time these riddles focused on moral and religious parables or lessons, we also see riddle poems display a high-level of rhetorical and metaphorical sophistication. Sexual innuendo, for instance, would sometimes be collapsed into issues of materialism and spiritual faith. Slaves, and their relation to the economy and freedom, often popped up as disguised objects meant to test the reader and stress the importance of sociality.

All though after the Norman conquest Anglo-Saxon poetry would fade, it would see a revival in subsequent centuries. Called the 'Alliterative Revival,' poets resurrected the rhyming schematic of their Anglo-Saxon ancestors. Though never constituting a formal school, the revival period lasted from the mid-fourteenth century to the late sixteenth century and helped revitalize interest in Anglo-Saxon writings.

Though we no longer think of alliterative writing today, it was once the standard for poets and was used in epics from Beowulf to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and beyond.Simple and easy to pick up, I would say that it is the ideal place to begin for amateurs and those unaccustomed to poetic form.

Works Cited
Treharne, Elaine. Medieval Literature: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: U.P., 2015. Print. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Progress Report (6/23/16)

Different percentages for different projects. What one are you?

Time for another update; classic Curtis, right? Always keeping you updated on his intellectual whereabouts.

But, seriously, things are going well. Even though, at the moment, I decided to put on hold learning Old English, in favor of slowly edging my way into it at a later date, possibly after I have engaged with Middle English some more, I feel I have made progress.

I have reviewed two books-- one, John Blair's Very Short Introduction to the Anglo-Saxon Age, and the other, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. All though not a great deal of reading by any means, it nevertheless shows signs of me pushing forward. This undertaking, after all, is an independent study, not a advanced course. Everything I am doing here is for my own erudition in anticipation of formally studying medievalism.

Besides, much of my time has been spent in going in-depth with the books I have read; readers may have noticed that with many of posts have cited Blair's introduction. Those are what I have termed 'content posts.' They are posts meant to elucidate aspects aspects of the literature I read; so reading is not merely an issue of reading, but also of re-reading and engaging with the content.

But, aside from the small but promising amount of progress made in engagement, I have also started labor on my Undergraduate project concerning adapting the aforementioned Sir Gawain. These are the posts which start with 'New Project.' I have been busy brainstorming, imagining, and sorting out the details with this hefty project, so that, in addition to my reading and writing, have made me a busy boy.

So, yeah, everything said and done, I think I have been doing well; if I were to give myself a grade, I would say my efforts amount to something like a 'B+'. I realize I could be doing much more, but I also realize that I have other realms to focus on and cannot devote every second of every day to this independent research. So, everything considered, I have warded off the academic evil that is laziness, for now at least!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

New Project: Philosophy

A fractal representation of adaptation; Deleuze would be proud!

Like any undertaking, what guides my hand and mind in the creation of this adaptation is a philosophy of adaptation. Though it may not, at first, seem believable that there exist philosophies of adaptation, there is, in fact, varied and well trodden over ideas on what an adaptation should entail and criteria for how adaptations are grouped.

You, dear reader, will be thankful to know that this post is not the time or place where I go into great detail on those philosophies. If you wanted to familiarize yourself with adaptation and its different schools, then a google search or an Amazon search with a few key choice words should get you to where you need to go. No, I just wanted to outline my own philosophy of adaptation.

Or, it is not as much a "philosophy" as it is some basic underpinnings.

You see, I enjoy the works of two brilliant, yet diametrically opposed, philosophers-- that of Alain Badiou and Gilles Deleuze. Each philosopher built their own idea of semiotics and textual engagements during their academic careers. And though each one differed as well as converged on certain aspects, I adored reading about and engaging with their philosophies so much, that I decided to incorporate both thinker's concepts into my adaptation of medieval texts.

Now, to be honest, the philosophy which subtends my adaptation does not truly effect it in any conceivable manner; more, it is something which explains adaptation as I see it. It is an engagement with Badiou's conversion of poetry mixed with Deleuze's conception of the Event. The end result is to examine language's function when used within a gaming framework (which, of course, alters the function of language, especially since the language is being already used in an Event, that is in a game, that has been converted from poetry...). So, complicated, but this is exactly why I am engaging with it-- in order to better appreciate and come to terms with Badiou and Deleuze's theories; the means is my adaptation project, something which I think would greatly benefit from post-structuralist application.

So, yeah, in a way it seems like I am cheating-- I am not building my adaption from a pre-thought philosophy. Rather, I am adaptation philosophy through pre-thinking philosophy of adaption; in sum, I am thinking of art through other lenses and seeing where I can go with an original application. Though in a more solid world I would be the one brainstorming original philosophies, as an Undergraduate I am only expected to apply pre-rendered ideas onto existing formats. And this is fine. Philosophical titans such as Badiou or Deleuze, take a long time to study, and I see no harm in taking it slow and crafting a piece which does their thinking honor.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A Brief Military History of Anglo-Saxon England

Mass murder. Circa: a really long time ago.

As is the norm when discussing the history of Anglo-Saxon England, what we see in terms of military exploits is nothing as we would see it today. The idea of professional solders did not exist (though, the Normans would make strides toward forming such units); warriors were, presumably, skilled hunters and generally males within a certain age group. Tribal conflicts were communal affairs and usually revolved around hunting spaces or, in the case of developing social hierarchies, loyalty to specific kings and lords. Conflict around a national identity, obviously, was a thing still far in the future (it would not be until after the conclusion of the Hundred Years War that anything like a national identity would emerge), as was, for the most part, cultural conflict; indeed, it seems that the furthest conflict came in the cultural realm was when it involved the clash between paganism and Christianity as expressed through the friction between competing rulers.

                For much of the seventh century, it was Northumbrian expansionism which dominated the period. Though eventually defeated by upstart leaders from the Southern Kingdoms (Mercia, which would eventually come to dominate England in later centuries), the intermittent warfare would become a symptom of the kings who would vie for control of specific stretches of land. Since many tribes’ nobility rested on a military aristocracy, a class of warriors which directly served their king, this focus on lordly dispute, is unsurprising.

                Though Mercian supremacy in the south would last for a long while, eventually, around the 9th century, a dramatic reversal would occur which would put the Merican kingdom on the downfall; this was the period of House Wessex, but it was also the period of the Norman (re: ‘Viking’ invasion). England, with its relative wealth and fertile fields ripe for settling, appealed to the Viking warlords; so, hostility soon erupted between the peoples as Norman invaders came first in raiding parties and later as full scale armies.

                What many people tend to overlook about eh Norman invasion is that the conflict in the 860s is, in fact, the first Viking invasion. There was to be another secondary Viking invasion during the next century which would finally place Norman rulers in control of England. Though Alfred the Great would make peace with the Norman interlopers, thus giving him precious time to raise a formal army, and something closer to a professional fighting force, antics which would enable English cultural life to continue unabated, his successors proved to be only marginally as proactive as Alfred; eventually, due to a combination of several factors, the House of Wessex would shatter and the Norman takeover legitimated practically as the rightful heir to the throne.

                And so is the military history of Anglo-Saxon England. All though very short, I wanted to give a brief overview of the basics of Anglo-Saxon bloodsheding. At a later date, I will publish a more protracted investigation on military actions and general history. Until that date, hold tight.