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Errantry: Novak's Journal
...Words to cast/My feelings into sculpted thoughts/To make some wisdom last
Personal: Odds and Ends at the Beginning of the Semester 
31st-Aug-2011 09:04 pm
Loyola Faculty Portrait
Perhaps the most dangerous person for a bibliophile to know is a book agent. I went into the department office on Monday to find an awesome care package from Therese, with a heavy emphasis on medieval reading, and a few surprises that she threw in for flavour and my general enrichment:
The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople, Jonathan Phillips
Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years, Diarmaid MacCulloch
The Inheritance of Rome: Illuminating the Dark Ages 400-1000, Chris Wickham
The Portable Enlightenment Reader, edited by Issac Kramnick
The Golden Legend: Selections, Jacobo di Voragine, trans. Christopher Stace, introduction Richard Hamer
Justinian's Flea: The First Great Plague and the End of the Roman Empire, William Rosen
Defenders of the Faith: Christianity and Islam Battle for the Soul of Europe, 1520-1536, James Reston
The Book of Margery Kempe, Margery Kempe, trans. and introduction Barry Windeatt
Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work, Matthew B. Crawford
This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession, Daniel J. Levitin
Life in Year One: What the World Was Like in First-Century Palestine, Scott Korb
So that was great fun. I was in the office while I opened the package, chatting with folks and so Barbra, Aaron and Sara all glanced through the lot or opined on one volume or other. My pet peeve of the Early Middle Ages getting the shaft with the "Dark Ages" slur got me reading The Inheritance of Rome first (I can't believe the use of "Dark Ages" in the subtitle; unless it's meant ultimately to be a stab at the term, I'd bet that one came from the editors...).

The new semester is underway: not much of an impression possible yet, of course. The students seem friendly and bright-eyed, but there's not much you can glean of them from the day you introduce the course. The prevalence of the music school might be a factor in just about the only question I was (repeatedly, in different classes) asked after giving my self-introduction was "What kind of music do you listen to/write?"

As I posted over the last day on Facebook, I had a couple moments that have made me laugh to myself more than once:
Got a good laugh from a class today as a couple of stragglers came in late to my "Jesus Christ" course. As I handed them their syllabi, I broke from my spiel long enough to make an aside with, "Remember: Jesus hates it when you're tardy!"

Just opened an email from a student that featured (what I hope was!) an unfortunate typo: "Drear Professor Novak" it began....
After a gazillion years of making the same mental note to myself, I finally got a CD copy of the soundtrack to American Graffiti. I listened to this album a ton when I was a kid, as it by itself, with its 41 tracks, constituted the bulk of our rock-n-roll collection. Nevertheless, I think my favourite is still Flash Cadillac & The Continental Kids' cover of "At The Hop."

And, in the growing list of disasters, New Orleans is burning. Or, well, the marshes around the city are aflame. Walked out of the house on Monday to a haze of smoke on the street and wondering if there was a house fire nearby. Student athletes aren't being allowed to practice outside because of the smoky air.
Comments 
1st-Sep-2011 01:56 pm (UTC) - books
looks like an interesting stack of books-the only book I have in that stack is "Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years" by Diarmaid MacCulloch. Hope you have a good school year-peace Jonny
5th-Sep-2011 04:51 am (UTC) - Re: books
That one's going to take either a class or an extended break to go through in its entirety. Otherwise, it looks to be a, "Let me see how he treats this episode..." sort of consultation-text for now.
13th-Sep-2011 04:14 pm (UTC) - Re: books
I enjoyed reading a long time ago Paul Johnson's book "A History of Christianity"-peace Jonny
1st-Sep-2011 05:57 pm (UTC)
"The Inheritance of Rome" is actually a really good book; in fact, it's one of the handful I brought with me to Germany. Chris Wickham is a fairly big name in the early middle ages, although he is heavily an economic historian and so a lot of his judgments are drawn from that perspective... which I have no opinion on, except that it means his analysis can be more boring to read sometimes! But overall it's a really good overview of the period and I'm sure the subtitle is a publisher thing or an intentional inversion!

I've paged through MacCulloch's book and was scared away by the very idea of such a broad and long survey! I have his Reformation book, which I started once, but didn't read enough to form an opinion. (Except for that his descriptions of the middle ages, meant as just a set-up for the Reformation, were "colorful" and I usually get turned off by that, because the middle ages gets enough grief already!
5th-Sep-2011 04:54 am (UTC)
So far I'm enjoying The Inheritance of Rome, although as you say the economic strength is there and I think he downplays the history of ideas/philosophy/theology and their wider influence, at last from what I've seen so far.

Yeah, I'd be put off by MacCulloch for saying something like that, too: that sounds like 19th century Protestant historiography at its finest.
13th-Sep-2011 04:19 pm (UTC) - the Middle Ages
I like the book "A History of Medieval Philosophy" by Copleston. And also "Many Mansions: An Introduction To The Development And Diversity Of Medieval Theology" by David N. Bell-peace
15th-Sep-2011 09:31 am (UTC) - Re: the Middle Ages
I'll take your recommendation of A History of Medieval Philosophy into account. I used Many Mansions with a "Theology Through The Centuries</i> course I taught at Marquette and found it a good choice, too, so if you're associating the quality of the one with the other, you've made an impression!
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