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Del director This fall I was lucky enough to get some release time and take a semester off from my usual teaching to do a little travel and research in Europe. I spent time in Santiago de Compostela, mostly to enjoy the seafood and to welcome a retired colleague, María Robredo, who at 71 1A resolved to finally do the legendary pilgrimage and walked from León to Santiago alone, carrying her backpack. Fm delighted to report that the charms of the Camino (and the protective gaze of the Apóstol) worked their magic for her too, and she all but leapt across the mountains of Galicia, thrilled with her immersion in the medieval and modern- experience of becoming a pilgrim. Later I spent a delightful week as the guest of the Departamento de Biblioteconomía y Documentación at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, at the new extension campus in Colmenarejo, beautifully sited in the sierra and overlooking the Escorial. I was impressed by the rigor of the program and the faculty's clear eyed inclusion of paleography and the cultural history of the book. The main campus at Getafe fittingly opened their school year in late September by awarding a doctorate honoris causa to Roger Chartier, the celebrated cultural historian who has contributed so much to tracing the social importance of the act of reading. Finally, I devoted two more weeks to serving as study leader for a Smithsonian tour of (get this) The Historic Capitals of Portugal and Spain, an ambitious sweep from Lisboa through Evora, Mérida, Sevilla, Córdoba, Granada, Toledo and Madrid. The organizers allowed me to do a cycle of talks centered on the Middle Ages and the presentations I foisted on this alert and good natured group included immodest topics like "Felipe II and the Dream of Empire", "Housewives, Harlots & Priests: The Medieval Urban Landscape" and (my favorite) "So Whose Blood Belongs on the Sand? Bullfighting and Cultural Difference". I don't think I made bullfighting enthusiasts out of many of them, but they did seem to grow fond of the slides I shared of the Cantigas de Santa Maria and the many other contributions of Alfonso's Christian realms, Jews, Muslims in the world of medieval Spain. Some of our readers have probably taught on foreign study tours and know that these audiences may include retirees who have done extensive reading in preparation for their field work and who can ask devastatingly insightful questions far from our areas of expertise. I became adept at changing the subject and finding newways to say "I don't know", something the participants responded to with good humor and generous dollops of their own considerable learning and life experiences. I have no wish to impose a personal travelogue on the readers of this journal, simply to echo a persistent theme one hears at conferences and reads in newsletters of our professional associations - "Medieval Outreach". Ronald Herzman's smart essay of the same title in the November 2001 issue of the Medieval Academy News surveys his own moments of revelation at how the most disparate sectors of the public yearn for what only we can offer. He gives amusing examples of how computer geeks at Microsoft lunged at the invitation proffered by a fellow programer with training in medieval studies to guide them through a reading of Dante's Commedia. Undergraduates in one seminar Herzman taught embraced the opportunity to expand the circles of Inferno to include "the Jazz Fraud Artists ... Kenny G. [being] the chief sinner". And while doing outreach at the infamous Attica Correctional Facility in upstate New York, prisoners saw themselves most intimately not in the hell they were sentenced to, but as aspirants to Dante's Purgatorio, with its affirming message of reform and redemption . Despite our persistent fears of professional marginalization and uselessness, most ofus have our private tales ofunexpected displays of appreciation for a medieval world that apparently has much to teach this new century. The dream of pilgrimage still haunts the lives of some of our contemporaries, and those who complete their journey even in advanced years find a unique sense ofconnectedness. Modern students like those at...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1947-4261
Print ISSN
0193-3892
Pages
pp. 1-2
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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