"Commonplace books that survive from the Tudor period contain a huge variety of texts, including letters, poems, medical remedies, prose, jokes, ciphers, riddles, quotations and drawings. Sonnets, ballads and epigrams jostle with diary entries, recipes, lists of ships or Cambridge colleges and transcriptions of speeches. Collecting useful snippets of information so that they could be easily retrieved when needed, or re-read to spark new ideas and connections, was one of the functions of a commonplace book. But the practice of maintaining a commonplace book and exchanging texts with others also served as a form of self-definition: which poems or aphorisms you chose to copy into your book or to pass on to your correspondents said a lot about you, and the book as a whole was a reflection of your character and personality."
Tom Standage: How commonplace books were like Tumblr and Pinterest, drawing from the research for his forthcoming book.
See also: the distractions of social media, 1673 style.(via blech)
For the last two Scholarly Saturdays, I’ve featured articles on history (chivalry in the Middle Ages) and linguistics (comparing translations of the Old English poem Beowulf). Today, I’m going to focus on my other field of study, theology. I’m working on a master’s degree in the history of Christianity, and I’m going to spotlight one of the biggest reasons the early church was able to spread: the “cult of the saints,” or the relics, shrines, and rumored miracles associated with those believers who had been martyred by the Roman Empire. This is often denigrated as a rural “superstitious” practice, somehow “polluting” a “purer” form of the faith, but the reality is very different. Questions of power, ecclesiastical authority, state persecution, theological doctrine, social ties, urbanites vs. rural peasants (since Christianity was at first a city religion, the world pagan comes from the Latin paganus, meaning essentially “country bumpkin”) and more were brought into play around the Christian martyrs, and changed the social landscape and the body politic of the Catholic Church in many lasting ways.
To find out more, put on your walking shoes, grab your pilgrim stick and maybe some holy water, and join me below the jump where there be dragons: