I kinda sorta knew that Memorial Day was coming up from the sale ads in my email inbox, but I have never paid much attention to the holiday because I’ve always been out of school before.  I actually had to look up the UW calendar to confirm that we don’t have class on Monday.  I didn’t know if it was a school holiday or not.  It was a welcome surprise to see that we do, indeed, have the day off, but the gift of a free day has also put me into a frenzy because next week is the last week of class.  It’s strange how “nice” surprises can somehow turn sour because of circumstances.  I would usually be so relieved to have a day off, but I’m itching to get back to class after this vertigo crapola I’ve been dealing with.

However, on the positive side, I have longer than I thought to work on my research paper.  I’m getting everything sorted out right now, and my desk is an absolute mess.  It’s a constructive mess, though.  I think.  I’ve discovered that as I read, I’m becoming more aware of the best scholars in the field and if I generally like their writing style or not.  That was something I struggled with in classics, probably because I took classes in almost every possible field in that general academic area.  I got to remember the translators I preferred (see my Aeneid post for some comments on that) but didn’t really identify with any particular scholar’s articles or books.  In the Robin Hood area, I’m fond of Ohlgren, Keen, and Knight, even though I sometimes find Keen a little general and Knight a bit pretentious.  However, I can identify sources’ usefulness sometimes based on this.  If I see that an article cites something by one of them or cites the Dobson and Taylor as the source of the Gest, that’s an indicator of something good.

I’ve also been struck by the lack of female scholars in medieval history.  My professor is amazing, and a woman, and one of my favorite articles from class is written by Barbara Hanawalt, but the academics in the last paragraph–the dominant figures in Robin Hood scholarship–are all male.  Granted, academia didn’t have more gender equality until recently, but it’s strange to know that I’ll be going into a field that is predominantly male.  And I have no idea if the UK is as adamant about integrating women into the workforce as the US when it comes to the collegiate level.  I remember the US News and World Report’s statistics on graduate schools, and all of the classics graduate programs were very male-centric.  Hmm.  I guess I’ll have something to look for when I get to Durham.  Hopefully, I won’t be the only girl in my program.  I also have more respect for my classics professors, Mary and Yurie, and my history professor, Charity, after coming to this (belated) realization, and appreciate their hard work even more.

Let’s see…  What else on the academic front?  My next batch of books is on King Edward II, as I’m trying to find good material on the royal court to compare to Robin Hood’s greenwood “court” in the Gest.  I don’t find single monarchs particularly enthralling, so I’m sure it will feel like a slog.  That may be why I decided to take a break and write a post, too.

First, some music to give you an idea of where my head is:

“Merry Men” from Robin Hood

“Ibelin” from Kingdom of Heaven

“The Battle” from Gladiator

There are certain things I like to have nearby when I’m buckling down to research and to write.  Flavored coffee (like the coconut creme I have here now), certain soundtracks playing on iTunes nonstop, and brightly colored pens are great.  I’m usually partial to The Lord of the Rings soundtracks for work, but I’ve made a special playlist for this venture.  It includes Kingdom of Heaven, the new Robin Hood, and Gladiator (I can’t forget my roots!).  Ah, music.  Without it, life wouldn’t be as happy.

iPod Nanos

I don’t know if I mentioned the fact that I love green recently.  Well, I do.  I have no idea if that comes from me starting to focus on medieval history (Lincoln green, the greenwood, etc.) or perhaps from my winters in Minnesota, which are decidedly vacant of green, and boiling summers in Texas and Oklahoma, which have various shades of brown predominating the landscape.  My room is periwinkle, but somehow over the years I’ve collected a green iPod Nano, a green phone cover, a green metal water bottle, and green room and desk accents.

Burghley House Grounds, Lincolnshire

Or maybe I’m morphing into a tree.  Historians and writers would have you believe that stranger things have happened.  Don’t believe me?  Check out John Mandeville; he’s one trippy medieval dude.

I also have this theory that green is the color of evil and death.  Look at the Disney Hercules, The Lord of the Ring trilogy, and the like.  The Underworld is a sickly green color, the Dead Marshes have ghostly green spirits, and the Paths of the Dead have similarly-colored creepy guys.  The Green Knight in Sir Gawain is, well, you know… green.  In the Aeneid, Anchises is in a green field in the Underworld, too, though it’s not as unpleasant as the Greek version.  On the flip side, green is the color of life and safety.  Leaves, the (ahem) greenwood, spring, and “go” signs are all green.  Interesting paradox.  I may smell a paper coming up.

And that reminds me that I should get back to work on my current paper.

A Step Into Green

Good luck to the graduating class of Gustavus, and a special “congratulations” to my friends who are walking tomorrow!