Poor neglected blog…
I’m just over half way through my trip, and have been struggling a bit to find the energy and spirit to blog.
Before I came away, I had to put together my application for the National Teaching Awards, and I talked a bit there about this blog, so I have been thinking of it a little as a teaching instrument. When you are a bit down, and you have to go into the classroom, you have to put all that aside and gather yourself up with the help of adrenaline. And that’s usually possible without too much trauma: I usually find I’m fine once I enter the room. But blogging doesn’t have the same immediacy, so there’s not been the same drive. I’ve also had goodly amounts of time on my own, so I’ve not needed the blog’s therapeutic charms. I’ve had very social bursts, but also lots of time walking around in the morning, and sitting in the library.
Anyway, I’m in the space between two conferences, back in London from my couple of days in Leeds, and setting out for Swansea two days from now. It’s still pretty chilly in London, though the sun was out this morning.
The Leeds trip was pretty good. I tried hard not to write a paper out, and did end up talking to my notes, rather than reading a script. So it felt very imperfect and ragged, but was probably no worse than a lecture from notes. I was talking about the blurry lines between medieval studies and medievalism, and tried to talk about the moment when Malory’s Guenevere falls down laughing at the tournament of Surluse, when Dinadin is brought into the court dressed as a woman, as a moment that challenges us to think about the different models of time and temporality in the medieval text, the medievalist text, and the way we think and talk about those things. As a means of bringing the two together — teaching the medieval, and re-enacting the medieval — I enacted this moment, literally falling to the ground in the middle of my paper, asking whether that was an act of medieval studies (demonstrating the play between realism and non-realism in the text) or of medievalist re-enactment. This stuff is so hard to think about, and the paper felt very much like work-in-progress. Completely terrifying to fall down like that, but also fun, too. The text says “and so did all that there were”, so I invited the audience to fall down too. They didn’t, of course, and Louise was right to say later that if I had been a real queen, they would have!
A highlight was meeting the redoubtable Eileen Joy (will do some links when I get home: too hard in transit) at Leeds. She made a great contribution to the discussion, that John took up later that day on the round table on medievalism. We had been talking about medievalism as play, and she reminded us that it was also a very serious business for folk like Bruce Holsinger, etc. So I’m trying to think a bit about this for the Swansea paper.
[Edit: part of this post has been removed by the author]
Anyway, the great highlight today was La Bohème at Covent Garden. On my friend Paul's advice, I treated myself to a glass of champagne and smoked salmon sandwiches, before climbing up to my seat. Not too bad, actually; right down the front of the top tier, which raked steeply up behind me, and pretty much in the centre. And it was beautiful. Wonderfully sung, especially the tenor; and surprisingly moving. I didn't think it would get to me, but I did shed a tear at poor old Mimi's death, and the difficult reversals of her love with Rudolpho. Sigh.