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Monthly Archives: July 2015

It Takes a Viking- Recap

It’s been a very busy weekend of fruit processing and illustration, Reader, beg pardon in the delay in recapping about my public talk last Thursday. Once again I would like to thank the staff of Lodi Public Library and those who showed up for helping to make the event successful. The audience was numerous enough that more chairs had to be set up and more handouts printed (if you were there you already know this though, of course). There were two front page articles in the Lodi News-Sentinel as well. At the moment I am taking a look at feedback forms so I thought I would take the opportunity to respond to a comment or two that were made there. Many were ideas for future talks which are great and will be used to create future medieval events.

A few inquired about the school I earned my postgraduate degrees from. Some inquired about my language background as an archaeologist. I began medieval Norse language and historical studies properly after I transferred to UC Berkeley as a junior from San Joaquin Delta College. I confess though my love of anthropology kept me from a BA in Scandinavian studies. I earned one from UCB’s prestigious Anthropology department with a focus on archaeology. There were very few graduate programs in the United States able to support an early medieval application of 4 fields anthropology. There were even less on the West Coast so ultimately I took my graduate education abroad. I looked for a program able to give me the support and contacts necessary for a community college graduate trying to break into international medieval studies. I ended up at the University of Nottingham’s Archaeology Department, arriving to earn an MA in medieval archaeology and ultimately staying for my PhD as well. Nottingham is home to the Centre for the Study of the Viking Age as well as the Institute for Medieval Research. So- what is it like being at a research university with an active medieval program? I if I had to sum it up in two words: supportive and inspirational. I came in with a rare combination of skills and degrees recognized but unfamiliar as the Associate of Arts degrees don’t really have an equivalent in the UK. I had a solid 4 field conception of anthropology [still do actually], the basics of medieval Norse and early medieval history under my belt after having taken courses from eminent professors at UC Berkeley during my undergraduate. The CSVA and the IMR are both well known internationally for promoting interdisciplinary research as well as public involvement and so were a decent fit for me. I have many contacts now that never would have been possible at this stage of my career if I hadn’t gone there.

Basically, Reader, I’m living proof that it is still possible to successfully go from one of California’s community colleges to international study. Don’t get me wrong: it’s not been easy- but some of that is part of earning a postgraduate degree. Some of it is getting past the stereotypes associated with attending a community college, particularly one in an area with a reputation similar to Compton. If you truly care about what knowledge you pursue, though, it is possible.

On that note I’m off to edit. I’ve got a stack of writing and editing all needing to be done by the end of August and the days are just getting shorter.

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Public Talk 7/23/2015

This Thursday evening I will be presenting my first purely general public talk on my research. Up until now they have all been academic in some way- at a school or a conference mostly. I’m a bit nervous as public speaking is something I generally find pretty nerve wracking. But, as keeps proving true, I know my material and I know people are interested in the Vikings even here in California so I’ll let that carry me through. At the very least this is the first opportunity to shamelessly self-promote Viking Nations. Who knows- maybe some local schools will be looking for assistance with including more medieval content into their programs and curriculum. If you happen to be one of these educators Reader please message me. One of the many idea that resulted from the International Medieval Congress at Kalamazoo is an increased focus from the Medieval Academy of America to take on Common Core. The academic response has been strong and is still rallying to the cause- K’zoo was only this past May after all. So watch this space.

I tutor grades K-12 periodically aside from my adult tutoring work. Kids are excited about an opportunity to do more medieval when given a choice of Egypt or Rome. Kids are even more excited when “medieval” encompasses all cultures fromCE500-1500. I work with the low-income kids- the ones who rarely get outside homework help, who often translate languages for their parents, the ones who notice the differences between the haves and the have-nots and assume it reflects their own intelligence. Those that I have worked with want to know why. Medieval Studies provides that for much of the modern world. Research into humanity’s past helps us all to better understand its future. And it’s fun.

This summer has been a scramble of fruit foraging, Etsy shop creation [DKnightPaints if you are interested], writing and illustration- so essentially deadlines. When fruit is ready it has to be dealt with otherwise I lose out on a free and substantial resource. So much of my summer months I have berry-stained hands and bramble-scratched arms but a lot of jam making supplies. The rest of the time its ink and paint on my hands. And my jeans. Oh well- I never could keep my work or my fun off my person. I’ll need to remember not to pick this Thursday though so I don’t frighten the audience.

D Knight LPL flyer

Newly completed work- St Magnus

Its been busy days lately- with the arrival of summer proper to California came with a flurry of hot temperatures and fruits to forage [which I preserve both to eat and for sale these days]. I’ve been trying my hand at renderings on cold press again- it had been a very long time as I am very fond of vellum surface for working on. This version of St Magnus’s Cathedral is slightly larger than I normally work as well. I’m please with it. If you like it as well and would like a copy in a variety of formats here is a link to where it is at on Redbubble. They handle printing and shipping internationally as well.

St Magnus Cathedral Kirkwall

Otherwise the summer has been full of article write ups, portfolio work and jam making. Yesterday I canned two types of peach jam and today there will be two types of blackberry jam being processed.