News and Notes

Badgers as archaeological aids?

In Germany last year, a badger unearthed the graves of two twelfth-century Eastern European lords; the tombs contained grave-goods like belt buckles and swords, while the skeletons sported multiple healed war wounds. You can read the full account from the German news outlet Spiegel.
I've heard of truffle pigs and cadaver dogs; I don't see why archaeologists can't start training tomb badgers...


How do you stop a vampire?

You stick a brick in its mouth, of course. Or you bury its head between its legs. Or perhaps you skewer its corpse with an iron rod. Archaeological excavations across Europe -- from Poland to Italy to Ireland -- reveal human remains buried in atypical fashions, and these abberant burials shed suggestive light on different medieval and early modern communities' beliefs in the not-so-normal dead. And they might provide some useful tricks for surviving the Zombie Apocalype.
(BTW, as I understand it vampires per se weren't a part of western European folklore until the late fifteenth or early sixteenth centuries. You do find references to other kinds of revenants, however, in medieval literature from at least the 10th century.)


You know her smile . . .

. . . but the details behind da Vinci's Mona Lisa have long been obscure. Now, archaeologists in Italy have opened the grave believed to house the bones of Lisa Gherardini, the woman believed to have been the model for the famous painting. You can read about the excavation, Lisa's life, and the archaeological team's goals at Discovery News, as well as an update on the project.


Shakespeare in Elizabethan Pronunciation

Many of you are curious about language change between Chaucer and Shakespeare (especially when we do early modern poetry in 2310/2350H). The theatre department at University of Kansas performed Shakespeare in the original pronunciation in 2010, and you can watch/listen to a scene from their Midsummer Night's Dream below. It won't answer all your questions about rhyme, slant rhyme, and eye rhyme, but it's a good starting point.


This is a legacy post from my old website


Geoffery Chaucer Hath A Blog

Yes, folks, he actually does, right here at
He doesn't post frequently any more, but the old posts are definitely worth re-reading. I personally recommend his take on sparklie vampyres and the Cipher of Leonardo. Plus a lot of Ricardian England in-jokes that you must be a die-hard Chaucerian to get.
He also tweets (much more frequently) at @LeVostreGC
This is a legacy post, with some additions, from my old website.


Canterbury Tales Remixed

In Jan. 2012 in NYC, the Canadian rap artist Baba Brinkman was performing his one-man show, The Canterbury Tales Remixed, off-Broadway at the Soho Playhouse. Was it any good, you ask? Judge for yourself: here's a portion of the Pardoner's Tale from the 2005 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. You can also listen to the General Prologue and more on Baba Brinkman's website.


Neil Gaiman, "The Problem With Saints"

Did you know Neil Gaiman could sing? Neither did I. Did you know he knows Josh Ritter? Me neither. Did you know they've got a song about Joan of Arc? Now you do. That's at least three kinds of awesome in one two-minute video.


This is a legacy post from my old website.


Racy poem by a 16th c woman

In 2011, Middle English scholar Elaine Treharne found a (slightly racy) Latin poem, written by a sixteent-century Englishwoman for her tutor, pasted into an early modern printing of Chaucer. You can read the whole story -- who the Englishwoman and her tutor were, why it's important that the poem is in Latin, and a translation of the poem itself -- at the Early Modern England website.
This is a legacy post from my previous website.