CFP: Teaching Chaucer’s Tales with Visuals.

Call for papers for the Chaucer MetaPage session at the International Medieval Congress, Kalamazoo, in May 2017

Beyond the Portraits: Teaching Chaucer’s Tales with Visuals

Deadline for Submission: September 15, 2016 

Chaucer MetaPage


The Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 is mentioned in the Tales.CBeyond the Portraits: 

Teaching Chaucer’s Tales with Visuals.

For this session, we seek papers that explore the possibilities of using visual materials to teach the Canterbury Tales, going beyond the Ellesmere portraits and similar highly familiar resources. These resources could be online or off (e.g. photos, underexplored book illustrations, ephemera). The session will emphasize the pedagogical value of these materials.

CFP: Christianity and the Literature of the Vikings

Special Topic: Christianity and the Literature of the Vikings (Spring 2017)

DEADLINE: October 15, 2016

Intégrité: A Journal of Faith and Learning (Missouri Baptist University)

Intégrité is a scholarly journal published biannually by the Faith and Learning Committee and the Humanities Division at Missouri Baptist University in St. Louis, Missouri. Published both online ( and in print, it welcomes essays for a special issue (Spring 2017) on “Christianity and the Literature of the Vikings.” Essays may explore the intersection of the Christian faith and Old Norse literature. As a faith and learning journal, Intégrité also invites pedagogical essays that address teaching Old Norse literature at faith-based institutions of higher learning.


Print edition of Snorri’s Edda of 1666

Some possible topics include:

CF• The consequences and quality of Iceland’s national conversion to Christianity in 1000 A.C.E. and its treatment in the Icelandic Family Sagas (Íslendingasögur)

• Christianity and the supernatural in any saga genre

• The influence of Christianity on the writings of Icelandic historian and poet Snorri Sturluson

• The relationship between Christianity and Old Norse paganism

• Christianity and the medieval Icelandic legal system

• Medieval Icelandic devotional texts

• The value of Old Norse for literary study in faith-based institutions of higher learning

For this issue the journal also welcomes reviews of scholarly books published since 2010 that explore topics related to Christianity, literature, and pedagogy.

Essays should be 10-25 pages in length, and book reviews should be 5-8 pages. For citation style, refer to the current edition of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. Articles should include in-text citations in parentheses, a list of endnotes (if applicable), and an alphabetical listing of works cited at the end. Proposals and abstracts may be submitted until October 15, 2016. Essays are due no later than March 1, 2017. Please send submissions as Word attachments.

Matthew Bardowell, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of English

Missouri Baptist University

St. Louis, MO 63141

(314) 744-7608

Poetry at the Post: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in 101 tweets by Eric Weiskott

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, as translated by A.S. Kline

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (from original manuscript, artist unknown)
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (from original manuscript, artist unknown)

Soon as the siege and assault had ceased at Troy,
the burg broken and burnt to brands and ashes,
the traitor who trammels of treason there wrought
was tried for his treachery, the foulest on earth.

Last year while reading Beowulf and googling everything I could find on the topic, I landed on a “tweet translation” by Stanford medievalist (and “text technologies”) researcher Elaine Treharne, who neatly compressed Beowulf into 100 tweets( #BEOW100)  as a way of engaging her students in a look at “Beowulf from Then ’til Now.”

Intrigued by Treharne’s endeavor, I attempted to replicate her task by tweeting Song of Roland in 291 tweets (#SOR291). It was tedious and half way through, I almost gave up. I was constantly frustrated by forcing meaty text into 140 characters yet the process gave me an inside look into this medieval classic and made me understand how difficult it is to create a “really good translation.”

So, I thought I was done with all of this “tweeting the classics stuff,”  but via the marvels of the small world over the net, I was connected with medieval specialist Eric Weiskott who now plans to continue the “tweetization’ of medieval texts with his “translation” of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Look for #SG101 in the very near future.

Lady Bertilak at Gawain's bed (from original manuscript, artist unknown)
Lady Bertilak at Gawain’s bed (from original manuscript, artist unknown)

Having never read this 14th century chivalric romance. I’ll be adding Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, to the reading list in The Global Reading Group. Send me a note if you’d like to join. And, yes, we will be looking at Weiskott’s translation along with A. S. Kline’s and others. It should be a fun read!

And when this Britain was built by this baron rich,
bold men were bred therein, of battle beloved,
in many a troubled time turmoil that wrought.

6 Things I Learned from Retelling The Song of Roland in 291 Tweets #SOR291



I was fascinated by the story of Stanford medievalist (and “text technologies”) researcher Elaine Treharne who compressed Beowulf into 100 tweets. #Beowulf100

Could I do the same with another medieval epic, The Song of Roland? Well, I decided to try. I based my tweeted version on the 1963 prose translation by poet W. S. Merwin. Instead of 100 tweets, I opted for 291, which corresponds to the 291 laisses, or stanzas typically found in medieval French literature, specifically French epic poetry.

I had a time frame—one month from start to end—and although I took a two week break from tweeting while in India, I actually did complete the project.

So what did I discover in all that tweeting?

1. The Song of Roland is repetitive. For example, there’s the question of whether or not to blow the horn.

LXXXIV Roland, for God’s sake, blast your horn! cries Oliver. ‪#SOR291

LXXXV Blast your horn! No! I will not be shamed! says Roland. #SOR291

LXXXVI The horn! The horn!  Oliver begs once again. Roland replies I am eager for battle! #SOR291

LXXXVII No more talk of horns! cries Roland. We will meet the enemy head on. #SOR291

Or take the fainting. Roland faints; he is revived; he faints again. Next Charles the King faints a few times. So does the Archbishop. You get the point.

But, of course, this all makes sense because The Song of Roland is a chanson de geste, or “song of deeds” and songs tend to include repetitive lyrics or refrains.

2. The Song of Roland is brutal. Hand to hand combat with halberds and swords is bloody. It is not pretty. War is tough and this is a book about war.

CVII Oliver draws his sword and slices Justin of Val Ferree. #SOR291

CVIII More Saracens are split open by the French. #SOR291

3. The Song of Roland is a propaganda piece. Written a few hundred years after the time of Charles the Great, or Charlemagne, it plays fast and loose with the historical facts and, instead, gears its message towards recruitment for the Second Crusade standing firmly on the side of the Christians. Mountjoy!

4. The Song of Roland is a book about men. The only women (Alde and the Queen of Spain)  who appear on the stage briefly are but paper dolls in this story of men.

CCLXVIII Alde, the one promised, learns of Roland’s death. She dies rather than take up with another. #SOR291

5. The Song of Roland is not The Iliad. Both books are books of war and are full of nasty killings—thousands upon thousands of young men being slaughtered in hand-to-hand combat but The Song of Roland lacks the comedic interludes from the soap-opera drama of the Greek gods. There is, however,  one similarity in that both Zeus and God interfere in the affairs of the mortals and ultimately influence the outcomes of the wars.

5. The Song of Roland should be called The Song of Charles the King. It is Charles who takes the journey and returns home a changed man. In the end, Charlemagne realizes he is merely a puppet for God’s war on the pagans. Therefore, Charles not Roland fits the mold of the epic hero.

CCXCI The night darkens. Gabriel appears with a call to arms. Oh God, laments Charles the king, my life is a burden. The End. #SOR291

291 tweets is a lot of tweets. Would I do it again? Probably not, but maybe.

Poetry at the Post: Searching for a Heroine

Philosophia Perennis

I turned: quivering yellow stars in blackness…

"Pleiades large" by NASA, ESA, AURA/Caltech, Palomar Observatory     The science team consists of: D. Soderblom and E. Nelan (STScI), F. Benedict and B. Arthur (U. Texas), and B. Jones (Lick Obs.) - Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons
“Pleiades large” by NASA, ESA, AURA/Caltech, Palomar Observatory The science team consists of: D. Soderblom and E. Nelan (STScI), F. Benedict and B. Arthur (U. Texas), and B. Jones (Lick Obs.) – Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

“Philosophia Perennis” captures the core of “the everywoman,” the one who dreams of being the protagonist, the heroine.

Amidst “The dish, the mop, the stove, the bed, the marriage, “The picture changes & promises the heroine.”

I find this poem powerful—even more so when when I listen to Waldman read it aloud. The “I and I and…” is a mantra that emboldens my spirit.

Catherine Morland of Jane Austin’s Northanger Abbey could probably relate.
By 17, she was an “heroine in training,” yet
“No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy would have supposed her born to be an heroine.”

Come join us as we FINALLY read an epic about a WOMAN, in the Global Reading Group*, a virtual literary salon. We launch October 15th. And with “rambling houses, locked doors, and family secrets”—this is the perfect Gothic tale for those dark and spooky October nights.

Northanger Abbey is deliciously instructive, much like Waldman’s poem, “Philosophia Perennis.”

northanger abbey readers

*One book a month.

Poetry at the Post, Day 14: Bulgaria Anyone? да, Bulgaria!

Poetry at the Post, Day 14: Bulgaria Anyone? да, Bulgaria!

“Noah, The Carrier” by Kristin Dimitrova, as translated by Katerina Stoykova-Klemer

The Season of Delicate Hunger Anthology of Contemporary Bulgarian Poetry, Accents Publishing
The Season of Delicate Hunger
Anthology of Contemporary Bulgarian Poetry, Accents Publishing

To Gilgamesh*, however, he’d spoken like this:

I freed a pigeon, but it returned.
I freed a swallow—same thing.

I was going to head next to Greece at The Post but decided to stop in Bulgaria along the way. Today’s poem is by Kristin Dimitrova, a Bulgarian poet whose work appears in the 2014 Anthology of Contemporary Bulgarian Poetry The Season of Delicate Hunger, edited by Katerina Stoykova-Klemer .

Lake Pancharevo in southern Sofia

I like this poem because thematically it explores myth & legend and truth. We all have those friends who only tell you what you want to hear and then again, many times folks only hear what they want to hear. How much of religion or history is truth? As, we know, history is always written from the viewpoint of the victor, or dominant culture.

There is no way
Truth does not make a good legend
Yet legend is truth’s only carrier.

In an interview Dimitrova says, “I’d like American readers to know that Bulgarian poetry exists.” I must admit I know little about Bulgaria, well, okay, almost nothing.

You can read more about Dimitrova as well as the entire poem “Noah, the Carrier” here. There’s a fun twist at the end.


*The Gilgamesh is one of my favorite epics and we’ll be reading it in the Global Reading Group, a virtual literary salon.

Poetry at the Post, Day 13: BARBARA KÖHLER, German poet who rocks language!

Ingeborg Bachmann stirbt in Rom/Ingeborg Bachmann Dies in Rome BY BARBARA KÖHLER, as TRANSLATED BY ANDREW SHIELDS

June 14, 2014
June 14, 2014

And the borders of the German language
are mined with murderous accidents.

I began reading Barbara Köhler yesterday and I was completely taken in by her work. A contemporary poet born in the former East Germany, she creates new ways of exploring cultural cues in language. She’s precise but also ambiguous. Anyone who has studied a foreign language and lived an expat life understands this ambiguity.. you think you know but do you really?

Sometimes it feels like “breath and smoke.”

The full “Ingeborg Brachmann Dies in Rome” can be found here:

Ingeborg Bachmann was an Austrian poet and writer who also explored the potential of language. A member of the post-WW II literary group, Group 47, Bachmann moved to Rome in 1953. She died in 1973 at the age of 47 following a fire in her apartment in Rome. According to the police, the fire was due to a burning cigarette.

Bachmann's  apartment in Rome photo licensed under CC by SA 3.0 DE
Bachmann’s apartment in Rome photo licensed under CC by SA 3.0 DE

But back to Barbara Kohler. While Kohler was an artist-in-residence”with Cornell’s Institute for German Cultural Studies, she presented the IGCS Cornell Lecture on Contemporary Aesthetics April 16, 2013. “Some Possibilities For Sailing In A Friendship: Und Weitere Weitere MöglichkeitenBarbara” is a multi media presentation that is unlike anything I have ever experienced before. “The performance pivots on what this prize-winning author cultivates poetically as ‘precision in ambiguity.'”

Now if I could just get a copy of her book of poetry Niemands Frau Gesange , or Nobody’s Wife Cantos, a retelling of The Odyssey. This is a must-read for any epic junkie like me—or at least so I’ve heard.

Poetry at the Post, Day 4: Dante’s Inferno

May 26, 2014

May 26, 2014
May 26, 2014

This morning I picked up Mary Jo Bang’s contemporary version of Dante’s Inferno and took it to the post. I let the wind select the passage.

I ended up on page 74, deep in mud and in the 5th level of hell. This is place reserved for those who lived sullen or angry lives.

I was standing there staring
At a swamp of naked people covered in mud,
All of whom looked as if they were furious.

What I love about Dante is that he reels me into this fantastic journey down into the depths of hell but I end up in the innards of my own life—and how I live it. I must admit. I struggle with anger. Fortunately, there are ways put it aside. For me, it is with yoga.

So, today I give thanks for The Well and Prana Yoga. If you find yourself in Marfa, Texas or Oaxaca, Mexico, check them out. They are both very special places.

*We’ll be will be reading Dante’s Purgatorio in the virtual literary salon. Date: TBD. Visit the The Global Reading Group tab more more information. Anyone have a favorite translation?

The Poetics of Laundry—A Garden Looking To Be Tamed


Doing the laundry is akin to reading The Iliad. There is the ritual of loading the washer. If not done regularly, the task of clean clothes becomes a burden. Such is the work of The Iliad. If a commitment to read daily is not made, your charge to push through to the end of it seems overwhelming.

A charge it is as the description of war takes up at least half of The Iliad. And no two battles are the same. “…every battle rises above the last in greatness, horror, and confusion.” (Alexander Pope)

Achilles Lamenting the Death of Patroclus by Nikolai Ge
Achilles Lamenting the Death of Patroclus by Nikolai Ge

In Oaxaca, my life is easy. I stuff my clothes in a bag and carry them up a cobbled pathway and drop them off at Lavanderia Burbumatic. Some days, it is loco at the laundry. The mound of clothes is a Mount Olympus.

I imagine the lavandera lifting her head from those mounds and crying “Oh dear brother, help us! Give us your horses—so I can reach Olympus….” (The Iliad, 5: 359-60, as translated by Robert Fagles.)

I don’t know how they keep it all straight yet week after week whatever I put in in that bag, I get back—unlike at home. There a sock-eating Cyclops that lives inside my washing machine. He must. How else could so many sock “singlets” go missing?

My comrades left me here in the Cyclops’ vast cave…It’s a house of blood and gory feasts, vast and dark inside. (The Aeneid, as translated by A. S. Kline) Oops! Mixing classics.

The Cyclops by Odilon Redon
The Cyclops by Odilon Redon

Burbumatic must be monster free as my socks, like vowels in Ionic diphthongs, are reunited and layered between the pants and leggings. Each piece of clothing is folded art, a cotton origami.

Budapest is in my future. I’m very excited. I will miss Oaxaca, my neighborhood laundry, yet soon I’ll be walking the streets of Buda looking for my local patyolat. Patyolat??

Spoiler alert! At last, when young Dawn with her rose-red fingers shown once more, …the Trojans buried Hector breaker of horses. (The Iliad, 24:926, 944, as translated by Robert Fagles.)

Achilles Slays Hector
Achilles Slays Hector

We’re reading The Iliad this May in the Global Reading Group, a virtual literary salon. Contact me to join @ And, it’s not all battles! We’re looking at food too!μαϊντανοσαλάτα-σύρου/

The Hungarian National Epic

Nikola Šubić Zrinski's Charge from the Fortress of Szigetvár
Nikola Šubić Zrinski’s Charge from the Fortress of Szigetvár by Johann Peter Kraft, 1825

I’m addicted to epics! I admit it. I’ve read 13 of them so far but a few days ago I stumbled upon The Siege of Sziget, the Hungarian national epic. Where had this one been hiding? Within the Hungarian language, apparently, as it has only recently been published for the first time ever in English. (THE SIEGE OF SZIGET by Miklos Zriny, as translated by László Kõrössy. Catholic University of America Press, 2011.)

The Siege of Sziget is a latecomer in the European epics. Written in 1647 by Miklós Zríny, it tells the story of the final battle of another Miklós Zríny (the author’s great granddad) against the Ottomans in 1566. The Ottomans were the victors but at a heavy cost with 20,000 Turks lost including Sultan Suleiman, their leader. However, it stopped the Ottomans from pushing forward towards Vienna that year and so from the Christian point of view, the Battle, although a loser, was successful.

From the the little I have read so far, The Siege of Sziget has all the characteristics of the traditional epic. It begins with an invocation to a Muse; there is a bloody battle; and things get mixed up (or conveniently arranged depending on one’s point of view) by the interference of the gods, or in this case, God. I’ll be adding The Siege of Sziget to the list of upcoming epics in the Global Reading Group, a virtual literary salon, so send me a note if you’d like to read along.

For more info on The Siege of Sziget and its translation, visit

And, as an extra bonus, here is Szigeti veszedelem, or The Siege of Sziget , in Hungarian.

Suleiman the Magnificent

Suleiman the Magnificent as a young man by Nakkas Osman, 1579.
Topkapi Palace Museum
Istanbul Turkey
Photo courtesy of Bilkent University

Something of interest I discovered was that Suleiman, known as Suleiman the Magnificent, was also a poet and a big time supporter of the arts during his 46 year reign. Most of his poems were written to his wife, the daughter of an Orthodox priest who had been abducted and sold as a slave in Constantinople. Reportedly, the great Suleiman was quite mad about Hurrem Sultan—so much so that she was the only one of his harem he made his legal wife. You can read one of his lovely ghazals here:

My weekly prompt (feel free to use it too): Write a ghazal. Here are some words to consider incorporating in the poem: to crush, to blow, to swell, stiff-necked, Constantinople, blanket, and blood. Use a title of rank and the imperative “Believe, believe…”