>Odds and ends

>Edited to add a query to the internets: If you had to choose between MA programs in Medieval (or Medieval and Renaissance) Studies at the Universities of Leeds, York, and Durham, which would *you* choose? (Obviously this a question for the medievalists — all disciplines.)

Woah. I really didn’t mean to go silent for a week and a half there. (Random note: I typed “hlaf” for “half” at first, which amused me, as that would me “a week and a *loaf*” in Old English.)

Since we’ve been back from our Turkey Day weekend road trip, I’ve been running around like an acephalous farm fowl, but without any real reason for feeling so busy, at least not that I can think of at the moment. Hm. How does that happen?

The trip, by the way, gave me lots of food for thought about the zombification of the past, which, if I can find the time and space, I hope to write about. It also presented me with yet another Jesus, Son of Godzilla — or maybe it’s the same one and I just forgot which interstate highway it was on — and I have things to say about that, too. I don’t which is weirder, it or Jesusland Jerusalem in Orlando.

But now, a quick little story of academic happy happy joy joy. One of my favorite former students in the whole wide world just got word that she got into all three UK medieval studies MA programs for which she applied, and she forwarded the comments of one of the program directors to me. They’re *very* impressed with her. She thinks it’s all because of me, but really, she was fabulous all on her own. Anyway, I’m so very excited for her! I love it when good and exciting things happen for my students.


21 thoughts on “>Odds and ends

  1. >Well, York has Jocelyn Wogan-Browne, whom I adore (as should everyone), and Heather Blurton, who was at Columbia with me and has always struck me as smart, pleasant, interesting, and enthusiastic. Some other people too, but those are the only two I know personally. If your student wants to do Anglo-Norman, JWB is who she wants, for sure, and JWB does, well, every other language too.

  2. >Thanks, Karl! I had no idea JWB had moved to York. I really need to keep up on these things. (I haven’t visited the web sites of the programs yet, obviously.) And who knew there was such a New York – Old York connection!My student is more an Anglo-Saxon person, but maybe she should start thinking about moving into the Anglo-Norman period, as well.(And no, she didn’t apply to the ASNaC program at Cambridge. She was convinced she wouldn’t get in, which is silly, but I couldn’t get her to get over that insecurity.)I think I may put the specific programs in the main post and ask for people to weigh in.

  3. >I should add that when she was choosing which programs to apply to, I kind of let her follow her bliss. I think now I should sit down with her and help her figure out which program is the best for her interests and goals.

  4. >My preference would be York, but that’s because there are tons of excellent late medieval people there (I’m thinking especially of Felicity Riddy, Mark Ormrod, and Jeremy Goldberg), and I like their interdisciplinary approach. The people who come out of there that I know of have done really cool things. After that I think I’d pick Leeds, since they have the Institute and all (but that’s mainly b/c I don’t know much about Durham). Of course, I don’t know if this is any help for someone who’s into AS.

  5. >Elizabeth Tyler, York’s Anglo-Saxonist, an excellent scholar, a good buddy, and a very nice person, and their medieval Latinist, Gabriella Corona, is also really an Anglo-Saxonist.

  6. >My student is more an Anglo-Saxon person, but maybe she should start thinking about moving into the Anglo-Norman period, as well.Strikes me that if people do AS, they’re more likely to get a job over here if they do AS + the next 100 years and bill themselves as an 800-1300 sort of person. Not that there are a lot of those jobs, but there are more of those than there are straight AS.Given that JWB also does (did, at any rate) Old Norse, I think she probably does AS too, although, yeah, everything she’s been doing for the last 7 years or so has been AN. And I’m pretty sure that Blurton reads AS, iirc. In other words, writing from this side of the pond, York looks like a good place to do AS. And other stuff.

  7. >Karl’s point reinforces my plug for Elizabeth Tyler. She’s all about crossing those period boundaries and works on the 11th c., trans-Conquest, herself. Elizabeth was Eric Stanley’s student at Oxford but/and is an American, so she’s well plugged in to help a Master’s student figure out where to go next from the York degree, too.

  8. >Well, I hope that by “zombification of the past” you didn’t mean that your elder siblings are monsters!Glad for your student and of course I vote for York – one of my favorite places on earth.

  9. >Well, I hope that by “zombification of the past” you didn’t mean that your elder siblings are monsters!Bahahaha! No! Of course not! Rather, I was thinking of the living history museum we went to.Meanwhile, a HUGE thanks to everyone who weighed in on the programs my student is deciding between! I sent her the information in an e-mail and it seems she’s leaning towards York now, though she’s going to go visit each over break (thanks to her very generous and cool mother) and talk to their faculty before she makes any final decisions.

  10. >Here’s my only real advice: as a town, Leeds is ugly and bleak as hell. Going there for a conference is one thing, but being stuck there for a Ph.D? No thanks. Although one of my heroes–the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman–used to teach there. Also, Leeds has terrorist cells [haha–um, ha ha, not so ha?].

  11. >Eileen – Yeah, I told her the same thing (although I dig where those dorms for the conference are out near the dales — I found the access to the Dales Way and went for 6-mile runs across cow pastures…but that’s me). Also in Leeds favor: great Indian food (although Bradford is supposedly the best). And it’s kind of a happening town these days. But then, York is a very quick train ride to Leeds for concerts and so forth *and* it’s a lovely, well-preserved medieval town.

  12. >Leeds might be as ugly as hell, but York is as boring as hell. And it’s a little place that’s overrun with tourists. As for terrorist cells–so’s the midwest. 6 of one, half a dozen of the other.

  13. >boring? York? for a medievalist?? I’m almost lost for words!I live in one, work in the other (not at the University any more). Leeds has more high fashion stores than York (but what student can afford those?). It has a bigger theatre and an opera house. It also has one of the liveliest clubbing scenes in UK – and lots of younger students choose it for that reason. Its architecture is mostly decayed Victorian/modern – it is one of the UK’s largest cities, lots of decayed industrial areas, but now a thriving commercial centre for banking and law. It has the Royal Armouries and a medieval parish church – but also nightmarish traffic dominating much of the city centre which leave these two as islands. Leeds’ suburbs are huge and sprawl for miles. There are some ‘inner city’ neighbourhoods – which some people find exciting – depends on temperament. The two cities are about 20-30 minutes apart so you can easily visit one from the other. Leeds is crammed full of visitors shopping etc every weekend (you can barely move).York is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe with extra Georgian and even modern parts. Total population of 160k all living in suburbs outside the walled city. It is smaller than Leeds but not ‘little’ – I’d say bigger than/same size as Oxford and Cambridge? The city centre is mostly pedestrianised. It has many boutique stores and independent shops (esp book shops) and many museums and too many historic buildings of national/international importance to mention. It too is crammed with visitors especially at weekends and during holidays. It has several music festivals – the National Early Music centre is there for example – and it is one of the national hotspots for street music and theatre all year round. Students I know seem very happy. Quite a few of the riverside districts have been redeveloped in last 8 years – with modern bars etc placed into older waterfront buildings. There is a new arts cinema too. Two very large and well-rated restaurant districts are also fairly new- just about every kind of cooking is there. I am going to see a medieval play staged by the York medieval students’ theatre group next weekend – they only perform in medieval languages (I saw a Norse play in a Viking longhouse once – amazing). They always seem like a lively and very professional group – and come from all over the world to study there. And they are based right in the city centre in a medieval/seventeenth century building which was once an abbey.Both are in easy reach of beautiful countryside. Leeds is closer to the Pennines and Bronte country. York is closer to the wolds, moors and sea. The areas directly north-east and west of York are both national property hotspots.Finally it takes about 2hrs from York to London, a little more from Leeds – and about 3 hours to Edinburgh – by train. Durham is much smaller than York and therefore Leeds. It is more like a village than a city. Every weekend the trains are full of students going to Newcastle or York for the day. The University occupies a dramatic site in the town centre and dominates Durham in every way possible. Like York it has an amazing cathedral, castle and archives. It doesn’t have the medieval houses, shops and guildhalls or parish churches that York has.So if York is ‘boring’ for a medievalist – it must be for those kind that don’t enjoy being near medieval things, I guess …

  14. >Woah, Anon, calm down. I think Karl was picking up on the “concerts and so forth” part of my last comment. You have to admit that more of *that* is going on in Leeds than York.Thanks for the info about the cities themselves. I actually know York very well and find it delightful in general, but *especially* for a medievalist. And I have a very good friend from the Bradford-Leeds area (actually, round about Ilkley) so I know a lot of Yorkshire well. But I’ve only visited Durham once, as a tourist, and only for a day, so your information on it is particularly helpful.

  15. >Sorry! Didn’t mean to offend. I just like to go to movies, that’s all, and I had some trouble finding a decent place to see one. In fact, I found only three, that I remember. I had a marvelous time in York, less marvelous in Leeds, and an excellent time in Yorkshire. It’s just that I found neither city very exciting. What that actually means for me–given that I live the life of someone writing a dissertation (in my case, living in NYC and virtually never going out on the town) — I have no idea. My apologies, again, for wounded civic pride.

  16. >Oh – New York! Well York is certainly not like New York (but then nowhere in the UK is really). To be honest (and at the risk of hurting your civic pride) I think London has more to offer than NY – and much of England is practically a suburb of London these days. Plus from the UK it is easy to get to many major European cities very cheaply – so once you actually live here I think your appreciation of what you can do expands. FWIW I go to Leeds and London for theatre and rock music, to York and London and Manchester for classical music. Cinema is pretty much everywhere – but mostly you need to find the University clubs for the off piste kind of stuff. Sorry – this is not the subject of this blog – damn the power of Google!

  17. >Well, I’d plump for York, but I’m biased (I did my MA there, but not Medieval Studies). The stuff going on for international students was terrific (we were frequently jealous, though not of the higher fees they were paying). They took research training for MA students very seriously in the history department and I don’t see why the medievalists would be any different. The only thing I will say as a bit of a downside is that a lot of the university’s accommodation for postgrad students is not too well placed for getting into town, with rather limited shopping facilities, and the buses were frankly pretty crap. But there are two good pubs in Heslington (oh happy days…). I had a fantastic time there. Intense but fantastic.Durham I’ve only visited but if you want boring and stuffy, that seems to have it in spades. And snobbish. Too many Oxbridge rejects. A friend of mine lived there for a couple of years and he was glad to escape. I don’t really know Leeds… except that the shopping’s great.

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