Avatar Challenge

Michelle of Heavenfield asks various people, including me, what the deal is with our avatars. I have a feeling she will be disappointed with this…

The monastery of Sant Cugat del Vallès

When I started this blog, I was slightly inconsistent about whether I was going to make my identity obvious. Part of this lack of policy was that I wanted an avatar image (I wasn’t initially clear that this would only appear within WordPress) which didn’t commit me on that till I’d decided. On the other hand, I wanted something that would pin me to Catalonia for the cognoscenti. I don’t think I achieved this, but this is how I went about it.

Sant Cugat del Vallès can claim to be one of the oldest monasteries in Catalonia, possibly going back to the fifth century, though none of the surviving fabric is that old and what it may or not have done during the Muslim occupation of the Tarraconensis is open to debate. (The current Spanish Wikipedia article on it is more cautious.) But more importantly, it was one of the very first to have the charters from its archive systematically published, by Josep Rius i Serra over the years 1945 to 1947. (Federico Udina i Martorell finally provided the index that Rius never managed nearly forty years later.) What this has meant is that almost all post-war work on regional history in early medieval Catalonia used it as a source, because it was for a long time almost all that was in print, especially from big ol’ Barcelona, and though they often had their own pet archives too, just for ease of reference the authors would tend to provide references substantially from Sant Cugat. (The fact of it being a thoroughly good edition also helped.)

My reasoning was, then, that if there’s one place in Catalonia that early medievalists know about, it’s Sant Cugat. So I FWSEd for it, stole an image with a suitably iconic focus off the tourist board’s website, cropped it and the rest is history. If I were doing it again with current policies, I would probably use an actual picture of me (if possibly not the lolhistorian one, though it is tempting), and I may yet change it, if only because I worry faintly about the imputations viewers may draw about me from the central crucifix. But for now, I shall take refuge in the defence, that a lecturer from Texas once complained to me about having to make to her students, that “people in the Middle Ages really were Catholic, I’m not just saying that’…

9 responses to “Avatar Challenge

  1. I’m not disappointed. I figured it was somewhere in Catalonia.

    Besides, you might a have noticed that my full name isn’t on by blog. Quite a few people know who I am, but I just felt my name is already out there enough, especially as I am not a professional medievalist (nor am I studying to be one).

  2. Michelle, despite your anonymity I cited your work in my Master’s thesis so you must be doing something right…

  3. I’m glad it was useful. Just out of curiosity, do you remember what it was on?

  4. Well, yes, but given what you were saying above I didn’t want to ‘out’ your partial anonymity :-) A boy named Arthur, might be the safest answer. I mean, a full cite is only a clipboard away but you probably know which one I mean.

  5. Thanks for the consideration. :-)

    Ah yes…the boy who some thought might be king… Maybe Marie de France will just force me to circle around those friends of ole Arthur.

    Off on another tangent completely, anyone know of a good book or study on the last chapter of Geoffrey of Monmouth (and his successors)? This would be the Anglo-Saxon age, Cadwallon, Edwin, Oswald etc. ending in Cadwaladr and sometimes even Aethelstan. This is the most understudied section of Geoffrey, I think.

  6. I don’t use a Blogspot avatar, but do have a couple I use elsewhere. Most often Fredegund, sometimes Amanda Root as Ann Elliot.

  7. Pingback: Avatar explained « On boundaries

  8. Pingback: Avatar of Change | A Corner of Tenth-Century Europe

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