Resource Mining

One trick to learn when doing SCA research I call “Resource Mining”. It is more fun than saying you can “get resources from the Bibliography” of the book or article you’re reading.  A bibliography is a list of books, articles, speeches, private records, diaries, websites, and other sources an author used when writing a paper. You may find it at the end of an article or non-fiction book. Sometimes it’s called Works Cited or Works Consulted. These lists are useful for the person who creates it because it gives credit to all the authors cited works. It also makes it easy for the enquiring readers to find the source used, but also to later researchers and curious people who are following similar paths. Think of bibliographies as time-saving and access keys to your SCA explorations. Works cited in bibliographies may include more than books, articles, and websites. They may list professional journal article abstracts or summaries that are hard to find or expensive to acquire. The abstract or summary may have just enough information for your SCA project. Or give you a strong reason to seek out the full source. Resource mining is even better when the bibliography is annotated.  In an annotated bibliography each listing gives you its content and value, clues to whether you should read it. If you read a listing that describes the work as “ground-breaking” or otherwise amazing, it’s a clue. It may give you an overview of the source, critique it, or comment on its […]

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SCA Curiosity And The Internet Medieval Sourcebook

I’ve been hunting down my favorite online medieval sources. Some time since I composed my last text the Internet Medieval Sourcebook received a new look. In fact the whole Internet History Sourcebooks Project (IHSP) has been updated. It’s new and improved. As someone in the SCA, if you haven’t found the IHSP yet you are missing out on heaven. The IHSP is a website with troves of ancient, medieval and modern primary source documents. It also has links to maps, secondary sources, bibliographies, images, and music. It was created in 1996 as a textbook alternative. The IHSP is located at the Fordham University History Department and Center for Medieval Studies. Its editor is Paul Halsall, and Jerome S. Arkenberg is the contributing editor. The IHSP is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted historical texts presented without advertising.  The Internet History Sourcebooks Project is a humongous collection requiring constant updating. In addition to the large individual collections of the Medieval, Ancient, and Modern Sourcebooks, the IHSP also includes separate Sourcebooks on African, Byzantine, East Asian, Global cultural interaction, Indian, Islamic, Jewish, LGBT, Science, and Women’s History. While many sources would help if you were doing persona research I particularly like ancient or medieval legal sources for writing scroll text. The great thing about the revised format is the search box found in the upper right corner. Through it, I found specific useful search entries: charters, patents, Burgundy, scribe. Additionally, the IHSP include a Brief Citation Guide. This is a great help if you plan to enter a […]

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Protective Book Curses

I’ve worked on SCA scrolls bent over my art table with my back or hands aching. And that is one page, not a quire or a book. My efforts are minimal compared to the manuscripts I emulate. Still, I wouldn’t want my work stolen or harmed. Medieval scribes, to protect their laboriously created books, penned powerful curses to prevent theft, damage or loss. These writings appear in Latin and vernacular languages, some in cultures other than Western European.Using the vilest threats imaginable scribes heaped excommunication or painful death on possible perpetrators. For stealing a book you could lose your hands or eyes, then spend eternity in the “fires of hell and brimstone.” Marc Drogin compiled the largest book curses collection, publishing them in his 1983 book Anathema! Medieval Scribes and the History of Book Curses. His collection included curses from ancient Greece, the Babylon library, and extended to the Renaissance. A pricey book I’d love to receive as a gift. Since I don’t own it I searched for them online.   I discovered a book curse could be emphatic and short.  Hanging will do for him who steals you.   It could pile excommunication’s anathema upon the perpetrator.  May the sword of anathema slay If anyone steals this book away. British Library, Harley MS 2798, f. 235v What does a book curse do? It is similar to the FBI popup warning on your DVD movie, included by the media’s maker to frighten the foolish. It works if you believe the words cause realistic results. […]

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How-to Begin Left-handed Calligraphy

I am not a leftie, so I’m challenged by coaching calligraphy for people who are. Even so, interested left-hand writers want to know what to expect if they try calligraphy. What should a left-handed person learn? Left-handed calligraphers use various writing styles. They approach the text line with their hand from above and below it. They write uphill, horizontally, and downhill with results that vary from a right-handed writer in quality thick-thin stroke results. And often different from other lefties. Most calligraphy books, articles, and Youtube videos only have a small section for lefties. There’s only limited published information on how lefties hold the nib to the writing line and the angle required to make a pen stroke. What can you do about that? Where can you go for help?  Unless you find a left-handed instructor, most answers will come from within you. Since each calligraphy style has a specific nib-to-writing-line angle that controls its thick-thin stroke production, anyone using a different angle won’t make letters appear as intended. Since you approach the page from a different direction than a rightie, you must find your own best writing angle. The way you comfortably hold the pen and its nib to create the appropriate angle for your intended calligraphy style.  Also, don’t be afraid to change the way you letter from that described for right-handed students by right-handed teachers. Cramping your hand and arm for lengthy periods to get the nib to make the correct angle, as do […]

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