Academic Wednesday: the Occult and the Classics

It’s Week 1 of Lent Term, so in an ideal world, I’d be writing up a second Academic Wednesdays post right now. (If all of these words are confusing to you, check out the previous post in this series here.) Still taking suggestions for a better name, by the way.

Academic Wednesdays

And with a better name, perhaps a better graphic?

Sadly, this week has been particularly unproductive where work is concerned: a job application, a thumb injury, my birthday, and several other time-consuming things got in the way of doing much reading, so I haven’t managed to finish any academic books or articles that I want to write about.

In lieu of proper recommendations or a detailed post, then, here are a few things I’m currently reading — bearing in mind I haven’t got far enough yet to know if I’d recommend them. I may end up making Academic Wednesdays a fortnightly series rather than weekly if turns out not to be sustainable, but we’ll see.

Academic Wednesday #2: Lent Term, Week 1

The Occult in Medieval Europe, 500-1500: A Documentary History by P.G. Maxwell-Stuart is another book that, like Of Giants, I’m reading for the ‘Medieval Supernatural’ paper I’m taking this term. As the name would suggest, it’s primarily a series of excerpts from medieval texts dealing with the supernatural — all in translation, thankfully.

occult in medieval europe

(I’ve already slogged through some Middle English this week, which I can only manage if I read it out loud, and since I’m losing my voice I’d rather not do too much more of that…)

It seems like a pretty good way to get an overview of different authors’ perspectives and different texts, and see which ideas were widespread, but I’m not knowledgeable enough about the topic to know how comprehensive the text selection is. I mean, it’s on the recommended reading list for the paper, so I guess that’s a good sign, but it’s hard for me to give a personal perspective!

So far, it’s also made me realise how weird a lot of medieval beliefs are, but I guess after three and a half years of studying medieval literature, that probably shouldn’t come as a surprise…

The book’s a bit expensive, so I doubt anyone will want to buy it (wahey, academic prices), but if you do, you can find it on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

I’m also reading various articles in Classical Literature and Learning in Medieval Irish Narrative, edited by Ralph O’Connor, because I’m currently studying Merugud Uilix meic Leirtis, which is a weird Middle Irish version of the Odyssey. I originally borrowed this book from the library because I wanted to read what it said about Classical influences on the Táin, and then it turned out to be relevant to other stuff, too, so I hung onto it.

classical learning

It’s got some interesting articles, but it’s making me so glad I took Classical Civilisation at A-Level — if I hadn’t, I’d be entirely lost, as everywhere I look there’s Classics these days. Even with that background knowledge, there are a lot of details that manage to lose me, and I need to familiarise myself with more Classical texts.

I won’t be buying this book any time soon, though, as it suffers from the academic curse of costing £60 (though I think there are some secondhand ones on Amazon UK that are cheaper).

Anyway, those — along with reading for an essay I’m exceedingly unlikely to have time to write — are what I’m currently reading for academic purposes. Hopefully I’ll be able to get more done and write you a proper post next Wednesday.

What about you? Are you studying anything interesting at the moment — or reading anything erudite for the fun of it?

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