Book bit bullets III

I expected that the end of teaching would free up some time, but somehow before Kalamazoo I still have to finalise a paper for print, write another one for Kalamazoo itself, fend off my book’s editor with answers to a range of queries, apply for twoa jobs and stay employed in the current one. So content may be a bit thin here for a while. For the moment, therefore, I offer the tried and trusted bullets inspired by recent reading!

  • I had not realised it from his later work on charters, but Hartmut Atsma when young appears to have been the German David Dumville, in as much as almost every section of a large part of his thesis printed in Francia for 1983 ends with a quick round-up of the ways other scholars, especially Friedrich Prinz, were wrong, specifically about the evidence for the early Church in Auxerre. “Es zeigt sich also, daß der von F. Prinz und R. Borius abgenommene kausale Nexus zwischen der Beeinflussung des Germanus durch das lerinensische Mönchtum und seiner Klostergründung nicht in einen plausibilen und durch die Quellen begründbaren chronologische Zusammenhang zu stellen ist.” So there!1
  • Also in that volume, apart from the edition of the Vita sancti Marcelli I mentioned last post and the excellent Jane Martindale article I actually got the volume out for, is a lengthy article by Hans-Werner Goetz about the ideology of the investiture controversy.2 Meanwhile, in a different book that I had out for an excellent article by Jinty Nelson, I find another paper by Hans-Werner Goetz.3 The former is about fifty pages of elaborate German in a style I’ve mentioned here before, in which sentences take up four or five lines of print and contain eight clauses and at least four compound nouns I’ve never seen before; the latter is English, clear and only slightly literary, and is fourteen pages including tables, albeit that is on the long side for the volume. I’m not entirely sure there aren’t two Hans-Werner Goetzes (Goetzen?) who write in one language each.
  • While I was still teaching I had to deliver a lecture on art and architecture, about which I had a rough idea due to how much I’ve wound up reading about Romanesque churches, but where some orientation seemed like a good idea, and so I fished out of the library the only likely-looking thing, Art of the Middle Ages by Janetta Rebold Benton.4 While this was up in the Currently reading… sidebar section there I had it linked to a fairly negative review by Joanna F. Ziegler, which describes it as, “a quite staid reiteration of the voluminous, but uninspiring, factual minutiae that has permeated the genre”.5 And, well, yes, it’s not deathless prose and does tend to take one or two exemplary objects or sites per trend, briefly explain them and then list all their siblings. But I’m still thinking about getting a copy, because what that tendency makes it is a volume to look things up in when you already know the basics. Inspiring read? No. Handbook with which to hit up Wikimedia Commons for high-class imagery? Absolutely. Its own plates are also rather lovely. And the final chapter on art in everyday life nearly makes up for the high-culture architectural concentration of much of the middle.
  • And, lastly, I have a well-documented tendency on this blog towards protochronism. You may all remember the thirteenth-century notary called Catto whose authentication mark was a dog, well, this is from 906 and Vic:
    Scribal signature from Junyent, Diplomatari de la Catedral de Vic segles IX i X, no. 37, by Teudila

    Scribal signature from Junyent, Diplomatari de la Catedral de Vic segles IX i X, no. 37, by Teudila

    It’s not actually an authentication mark, just an elaboration for fun of a signum which began, long before, as a triple S with a double abbreviation bar drawn through it, meaning S[ub]s[crip]s[i], ‘I have signed’, but it is, nonetheless, a critter. And as you go through the Vic material you can find weirder and weirder ones, rabbits, chickens and some unidentifiable things we had probably best call zoomorphs, as well as artistic pen-drawn initials full of interlace. I don’t think these things are consistent per scribe, I think they’re just whimsy, but I wouldn’t like to rule out someone doing a study of them and proving me wrong.6


1. H. Atsma, “Klöster und Mönchtum im Bistum Auxerre bis zum Ende des 6. Jahrhunderts” in Francia: Forschungen zur westeuropäischen Geschichte Vol. 11 (Sigmaringen 1983), pp. 1-96, quote from pp. 54-55.

2. Referring to, respectively, François Dolbeaux, “La vie en prose de Saint Marcel, Évêque de Die : Histoire du texte et édition critique”, ibid. pp. 97-130; J. Martindale, “The Kingdom of Aquitaine and the Dissolution of the Carolingian Fisc”, ibid pp. 131-189; and H.-W. Goetz, “Kirschenschutz, Rechtswahrung und Reform. Zu den Zielen um zum Wesen der frühen Gottesfriedensbewegung in Frankreich”, ibid. pp. 193-239.

3. Respectively J. L. Nelson, “Gender and Genre in Women Historians of the Early Middle Ages” in J.-P. Genet (ed.), L’historiographie médiévale en Europe : actes du colloque organisé par la Fondation européenne de la science au Centre de recherches historiques et juridiques de l’Université de Paris I du 29 mars au 1er avril 1989 (Paris 1991), pp. 149-163, and H.-W. Goetz, “On the Universality of Universal History”, ibid. pp. 247-261.

4. J. Rebold Benton, Art in the Middle Ages, World of Art (London 2002).

5. Joanna E. Ziegler, review of ibid. in The Historian Vol. 66 (Tampa 2004), pp. 179-180, quote from p. 179.

6. Miquel Sants Gros i Pujol, “Làmines” in Eduard Junyent i Subirà (ed.), Diplomatari de la Catedral de Vic, segles IX i X, ed. Ramon Ordeig i Mata (Vic 1980-96), làm. 22. Anyone wanting to work on this stuff probably ought to start with Rafael Conde Delgado de Molina and Josep Trenchs Odena, “Signos personales en las suscripciones altomedievales catalanas” in Peter Rück (ed.), Graphische Symbole in mittelalterlichen Urkunden. Beiträge zur diplomatischen Semiotik, Historische Hilfswissenschaften 3 (Sigmaringen 1986), pp. 443-452, which I have to admit I haven’t. Maybe in July.

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6 responses to “Book bit bullets III

  1. I’d guess that it is not two Goetzes, but one that writes with a totally different style in English than in German. With all the reading of different languages I did for my thesis, I quickly found that there are distinctive “academic writing styles” for each country; and German style is to make things really, really complicated and with big words and long sentences. If you want the complete opposite of that, you need to read Scandinavian archaeology lit – written so easily a Danish colleague once complained to me that “it’s written as if it were for three-year-olds!”.
    Long story short: German academics expect German to be written like you describe, and it may even look slightly to seriously non-academic if you don’t use the complicated German Academese style. English academic language is very different in style, and thus if a German is writing for an English audience in English, she or he might well alter the style to the audience’s expectations…

    • Sorry, yes, I’m well aware it’s the same guy, I was just struck by the apparent split personality of the style. Your explanation is illuminating, thankyou. The only Scandinavian archaeology literature I’ve so far met was as a copy-editor, and there the English appeared less as if it had been written for three-year-olds as by one, but we fixed it in the end…

  2. I presume that you’re aware that Goetz himself wrote a shorter English version of that article which was published as ‘Protection of the Church, Defense of the Law, and Reform: On the Purposes and Character of the Peace of God, 989-1038′, in [i]The Peace of God. Social Violence and Religious Response in France around the Year 1000 [/i], ed. T. Head and R. Landes (Ithaca, NY, 1992), pp. 259-279.

    • Ah, no I wasn’t, or rather, I was aware of the article, though haven’t read it, but didn’t realise they were the same. I would imagine that, as Katrin says, the change of language would actually save a good few words just in itself.

      • Indeed, and by his own admission he has shortened it somewhat, so you’re still probably better off with the orginal, but if you ever want to send students off with a reference the English one might be a bit kinder!

        • … he has shortened it somewhat, so you’re still probably better off with the orginal…

          No, I rather doubt that actually! The original could stand quite some distillation.

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