Well, after a brief week and a day visit to Atlanta and Boston, I am back in England. Yes, that’s a lot of traveling in a very short time, and, yes, I am looking forward to my bed. This trip was a bit discombobulated due to the Rome grant (first world problems, I know). I intended to spend about two weeks in Atlanta, and the weekend of 20-22 September in Boston, since that’s Holy Cross’ homecoming. However, the Vatican gave me a few dates during which I could visit, and Mom ‘requested’ that I visit home before Christmas. Thus why I was in America for a whopping 8 days.
The main reason why I returned to America (in addition to the entire thing that it’s home) was because I was invited to speak about my research at Holy Cross. Holy Cross created a new club – Manuscripts, Inscriptions, and Documents Club – the year after I left. Yeah, I’m not happy about my timing. But it’s also so wonderful that these undergraduate students have such an incredible opportunity to start working in codicology at a younger age. I spoke about the subject of my dissertation – word and image in Junius 11. The club is oriented towards Classical paleography and codicology, which meant I had to tailor my presentation just a bit.
The actual event was quite a surreal experience. I was lecturing in the same room in which Ellen Perry, a professor of Classics, once instructed me. Her class, The Ideological Destruction of Art, is really where my love of manuscripts started (and, actually, word and image as well). There’s also a bit of an inside joke on Fenwick 4 that I used to look exactly like a younger version of Ellen Perry when I had shorter hair. My presentation was very well received, and some of the kids (who are like two years younger than me…) had some really interesting questions about my research. They then presented what they’ve been researching, and it was just so cool to see undergrads so invested in paleography. Hopefully a few of them will be inspired to continue in the field for graduate school. Or maybe they saw how tired I was and decided to not inflict this pain on themselves. I don’t know – we’ll see, I guess. So this was my first professional lecture. It was an absolutely incredible experience, and I’m glad that it was back at my beloved alma mater. It was also great to go back to Holy Cross. When I visited last year, I was still in that state of denial, and I just desperately wanted to go back. This time, I was able to enjoy being back on campus without this nagging feeling of “TAKE ME BACK I BELONG HERE”, if you catch my drift. I caught up with a few professors and some friends (I even crashed the ballroom dance practice), and I was able to take some personal time to see Fr. Brooks’ grave and St. Joe’s.
The trip to Holy Cross came at a really fitting time. I discovered my love of manuscripts in Fenwick 413 with the help of Professor Perry nearly four years ago, when I researched the Libri Carolini for her honors seminar. Four years later, I returned to give a presentation just a few weeks before I head off to Rome to see some select manuscripts for my work in word and image in Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, including (hopefully!) the Libri Carolini. I can’t imagine telling my freshman year self the many changes that my life plan would undergo in a mere four years. From law school to manuscript curator, my dream career has changed considerably. Giving the presentation at Holy Cross was so surreal because everything just came full circle. There’s honestly not a day of my graduate career that I don’t use something that I learned from Holy Cross (well, when you’re a medievalist and you took a majority of English, Classics, Theology, and Philosophy classes, that’s kind of bound to happen). And I guess that’s why I was so excited to give this presentation – it was a way in which I could thank those professors responsible for giving me that very foundation, and it was also a way to show current students exactly what you can do with a degree in Classics or English.