Well, here goes an attempt at something. I've been watching bloggers like those at Old English In New York and In the Middle with great affection (In the Middle in only the past few months has really provided me with a crucial site for thinking and conecting to interesting thinkers) , and have thought it finally time to pull the strings of an author-function for my own posts.
I figure, this blog here, is about a certain kind of desire for texts themselves, and for texts in languages very few people read--and to be honest, I am still very much learning to read.
Its from the laptop of a Grad Student who is technically an MFA in a final 3rd year of 3 year program, but who is actually a medievalist, and in love with theory. (What does this mean, "in love with theory"? A recent cannidate for a job as an Americanist in my department suggested that the history of theory and its movement is always a history of dissapointment--because theory will never "save us." And, of course it won't. But what will? If we wait with a truly religious messianism within our little anchoritic offices, what would we possibly wait for? I am reminded of a little credo of John D. Caputo--whose commitment to doing theology is not one that, in the end, I can stand behind: he speaks of a desire to move "up from presence to provocation." And, this is exactly what I might hope to happen when Egil Skalligrimson might take notes on Old and Middle English, all stirred up with leftist radical hermeneutics and poetics).
So--by way of introduction, I am trying to figure out what it means to desire a medieval text in a medieval language.
Also by way of introduction: I recently gave a lecture on Beowulf . I am TA-ing for a History of Western Civ 2 (elightenment to cold war) class in my neighboring Hist. department, for a Prof. who is also teaching CIv 1 and wanted someone who had formerly studied the poem in question to lecture on it for her class. As she usually has her TA-s give a lecture, she just swaped me into the Civ one arena for my turn.
This is the first time I was supposed to stand in front of 160 students and "teach"--if thats what we are calling that activity. I hope, really and desperately, that in the end I did "teach." But the upshot of the whole thing was having to somehow work with the mandate of historicizing a text I would much rather treat like a lover (and I think this is a theoretical statement, which is to say a poetic one): being faithful and betraying, singing about and cursing, getting bored with it, and simply drifting off in wonder about it--then of course there is still the activity (of reading) itself. The best moment of the whole lecture--I think--occured when stopped and simply read about 30 lines of the poem. Following Tolkien's old mandate, I read the damn thing as a poem and these students looked up suddenly and were stunned. This, this boring thing they read disparate translations of and would be forced into using as "evidence" for some kind of ill-fated essay written under timed duress on the "Making of the West" (which is the title of their dept.-chosen text)--this was a POEM. And I do not mean that in a historically frozen sense. I mean that they percieved that this was a poem to some other reader too. Perhaps they remained unwares of that final bit, but I think I could see it in their hairs standing on end.
Beowulf turns into a Bomb about to go off in a classroom. A threat from the edge of the development of "Western Civilization" that, when turned loose in a lecture can disturb the bussiness as usual of our dominant pedagogies, the economy of time/episteme, and even the economy of "getting and keeping attention." And when I read a couple words in Anglo-Saxon...
So, perhaps the title of the blog points an interest in a provocation which is is really a hospitality. What would happen if Egil Skallagrimson got ahold of Derrida?
Anyways, welcome to wraetlic.