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Blogging Kalamazoo 2021: The Book Haul

Thursday, May 13, 2021 - 16:40

Normally, browsing the bookroom at Kalamazoo is a kid-in-a-candy store type experience. The books are there, physically. You can leaf through them and figure out whether they hit the spot of your particular interests. Not having that direct interaction made it a bit difficult to determine what I wanted to buy, in this case. But there were still the conference discounts…

So here are the titles I ordered, that will trickle in over the next month or so, complete with commentary on why I bought it.

Publisher/Vendor: The Compleat Scholar

Peters, Edward. 1982. The Magician, the Witch, and the Law. University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 978-0812211016 – When and how, during the middle ages, did magic shift from being considered an acceptable science to being an unacceptable heresy? Bought for deep background on historic attitudes toward magic.

Summers, Sandra Lindemann. 2013. Ogling Ladies: Scopophilia in Medieval German Literature. University Press of Florida. ISBN 978-0813044187 – The idea that women were passive players within the medieval romantic landscape is contradicted by literary examples of “the female gaze” in a very literal sense. In several of the “gender confusion” romances (though the ones I’m thinking of aren’t German) the experience of gazing on the beloved is a key element of the femme character’s participation in the romantic relationship. Even when present in a m/f relationship, the element of the female romantic/sexual gaze disrupts ideas about the role of the woman in medieval romantic scenarios.

Farmer, Sharon. 2016. The Silk Industries of Medieval Paris: Artisanal Migration, Technological Innovation, and Gendered Experience. Penn Press. ISBN 9780812248487 – Not sure why I haven’t bought this previously, since it intersects two interests: textiles and female-dominated industries. The Parisian silk industry was a highly gendered field and offered unmarried women some unusual opportunities (while still being underpaid relative to male-coded occupations). These themes are also reflected in references to silk-workers in medieval romances, reflecting an image of female-dominated workshops that were a site of social solidarity as well as economic independence.

Publisher/Vendor: Broadview Press

Claire M. Waters. 2018. The Lais of Marie de France: Text and Translation. Broadview Press. ISBN 9781554810826 – I have an English-language edition of her work, but regularly find myself wanting to check things against the original language.

Publisher/Vendor: McFarland Books

Short, William R. 2010. Icelanders in the Viking Age. McFarland & Company. ISBN 978-0786447275 – A general-interest (rather than academic) work that brings together recent scholarship and interpretations. This is general background for my eventual novel set in the Viking era.

Publisher/Vendor: University of Chicago Press

Hunting, Penelope. 2021. My Dearest Heart: The Artist Mary Beale. Unicorn Publishing Group. ISBN 978-1912690084 – Mary Beale made a living as a portrait artist and author in the second half of 17th century. Her career was thoroughly documented by her husband, who approved of her success. She also wrote in favor of the equality of the sexes in marriage. I’ve been collecting up biographies of interesting English (and other) women with dreams of a series of romance novels set in Restoration England.

Stoichita, Victor I. 2019. Darker Shades: The Racial Other in Early Modern Art. Reaktion Books. ISBN 978-1789140569 – Part of my program of re-training my imagination to see non-white people in history.

Nummedal, Tara. 2019. Alchemy and Authority in the Holy Roman Empire. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0226639727 – Not a study of alchemy itself, but of alchemists (both male and female) and what their lives were like. Yes, I really do need to write more Alpennian stories involving alchemy.

Publisher/Vendor: Columbia University Press

DeVun, Leah. 2021. The Shape of Sex: Nonbinary Gender from Genesis to the Renaissance. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0231195515 – OK, funny story here. For about the last year, every month when I search Amazon listings to put together the new book listings for the podcast (sapphic historical fiction), this title keeps popping up in the first page or so of results. I’ve gotten very used to ignoring it, since I only see it when I’m looking for fiction. But I was chatting with folks about queer historic topics, and one of my friends says, “There’s this book coming out that I think you really need to read.” So now I’ve ordered it.

Publisher/Vendor: University of Toronto Press

Pugh, Tison. 2021. On the Queerness of Early English Drama: Sex in the Subjunctive. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-1487508746 – I winced a bit at the price on this one, particularly since the catalog listing didn’t answer the question of whether it included any female-relevant material. (Not at all a given.) But I was able to find a more detailed discussion that gave me hope, so I added it to my list.

Publisher/Vendor: Penn Press

Bennett, Judith M. 2020. A Medieval Life: Cecilia Penifader and the World of English Peasants Before the Plague. Penn Press. ISBN 9780812224696 – I’m not sure why I hadn’t picked this up previously. Bennett is a great writer and I expect this to be a very readable and informative description of everyday medieval life.

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