Monday, June 28, 2010

Welcome to my Pilgrimage

Pilgrimage (noun): a journey, especially a long one, made to some sacred place as an act of religious devotion

The journey: As I see it, my journey started 10 years ago when I moved to Georgia. And while that may seem irrelevant to where I am now--Yale University studying Chaucer and Medieval Culture--that decade-old decision was the first ripple to where, and who, I am today. This specific journey, however, started when I first taught The Canterbury Tales in 2008. Captivated by Chaucer's characters and commentary on Medieval life, British literature and culture became a new area of interest for me. When the email from NEH (National Endowment for the Humanities) detailing this grant opportunity filtered mysteriously into my in-box this Spring, I applied enthusiastically, but realistically expected a rejection letter. On April Fool's Day, I was elated to learn that I had been accepted. (Yes, April Fool's Day. Dr. Patterson has a sense of humor (or humour in Middle English).)

A long one: For the next six weeks I, along with 15 other teachers from around the United States, will study under Dr. Lee Patterson at Yale University. That's a long journey, especially when you consider the size of the apartment I'm subletting!

Check out Dr. Patterson's curricula vitae; it's pretty impressive.

To some sacred place: Don't be offended by the sacrilege and blasphemy in considering Yale a sacred place. I don't worship this university in lieu of a God, but as a place of academia. Yale, an Ivy League Institution, is the third-oldest college in the United States and houses almost 11 million volumes in its libraries (4 million in Sterling Memorial, the rest in the campus's 19 other libraries), making it the second-largest collegiate library in the world. For a literature nerd like myself, that's pretty sacred.

An act of religious devotion: If you look past the adjective and instead to the noun, you see that this course of study is indeed an act of devotion. Six weeks dedicated to one man, and his one primary text, and their shaping of culture since the late 1300s--it's a devotion parallel that which an athlete would attribute to perfecting "his game." Literature and language are my game and I am eager to learn everything I can from this opportunity.

And as I experience what this Pilgrimage has to offer, I'll post it here, a modern-day forum for a Pilgrim's tale.

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