I must come up with more excuses to do so. First there was that excellent article in last year’s Speculum about the dating of Beowulf (girls! warning! dating Beowulf may not be a good long-term strategy for romantic happiness! CGI could not convey the grief of others who tried! For further advice try here), and then I find she has a paper called “On the Field” in that van Engen volume I’m still reading. In it, she uses the word `medievalist’, and endnotes it, and we find that the endnote reads:
‘Medievalist’ referring to people like ourselves is first documented in 1874, the same year that ‘cocaine’ and ‘lawn-tennis’ first entered the language.
Now I should dislike this, because of course it is the same sort of making the reader do the criticism on the criticism that I was annoyed by Kathleen Biddick for, but this is firstly harmless because the point is clearly made, viz. that this is an older word than people might expect, and her examples give it an air of English country-house mystery that most people who have any sense of them at all will detect, and secondly, this is throwaway, gratuitous, it’s only an endnote; it’s not the thrust of the whole paper. But most of all it’s fun, and that makes an awful lot of difference. I understand now why her Festschrift appeared to be so full of irreverence: I bet she loved it.
This is the shortest post I’ve written for ages. I need to make more effort to be concise here really, as I apparently need to be advertised with caution… (Good luck, Zoe, I would guess that you’ll do all right.)