Oct 22, 2007

How Things Have Been Going

This weekend I went to the annual Nottingham Robin Hood Pageant. The pageant was the reason why I didn’t participate in Dewey’s 24-hour Read-a-thon, but after I got home I really enjoyed reading the participant’s posts. Everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun, and I want to congratulate Dewey for organizing the whole thing so well. And of course, also the participants, especially the ones that made it until the very end. They were braver than I suspect I would have been.

The Robin Hood Pageant was at Nottingham Castle, or rather, at the place where Nottingham Castle used to be. The Castle no longer stands, so what is there now is a 19th century Ducal Mansion that was turned into a museum. The Pageant wasn’t very different from the medieval fairs I normally go to. There were market stalls, people wearing medieval clothing, staged battles, and of course, a lot of children dressed up as Robin Hood. There was one thing that was different, actually: I had never been to a medieval fair in the autumn, and it was amazing to see how much the colours added to the mood. But enough talking, and on with the pictures:

There was a market stall selling Green Man replicas, and of course I couldn't resist getting one of my own. As some of you might know, The Green Man is also the title of an anthology edited by Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow, with cover artwork by Charles Vess. While I have not yet read the anthology, I have read Terri Windling's fascinating introductory essay on the Green Man mythology, and I can say the book is worth getting for that alone.

Things in general have been going well around here. I’ve been adjusting well, and I’ve been really enjoying the courses I’m taking. There are two in particular that I especially like. One is called “First Nations Speak: Native Writing”, and its focus is the work of contemporary Native American authors from Canada, and the influence of myths, oral traditions and Native culture in general in their work, as well as all the social difficulties they have experienced over the centuries and unfortunately still experience. Very soon we will be reading the novel Green Grass, Running Water by Thomas King, a novel in which Coyote the trickster plays a predominant role. Now, this sounds just like the kind of book I love, so I'm really looking forward to it.

My other favourite course is called “Classics in Contemporary Culture” – a pretty self-explanatory name, I guess. But let me just tell you that we have been or will be looking at things like 300 (both the comic and the movie), the BBC adaptation of Robert Graves’ novel I Claudius, Jim Henson’s “The Storyteller – Greek Myths” (we watched episodes of both of these in class), Wonder Woman comics, etc.

In our final essay we are supposed to analyse a modern artefact in which the influence of the Classics is present, and I think I’m going to pick Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman. There is Classical mythology all over The Sandman, but I’m going to focus on book 9, The Kindly Ones. What I’m going to do is going to be similar to what we did last week with “The Storyteller” – analyse how the myth was told back then, and how it is told nowadays in this particular example.

What is interesting is that, for example, our main source for the myths retold in “The Storyteller” is Ovid’s Metamorphosis, and yet we cannot say that those are the original versions of the myths. What Ovid was doing back then is very similar to what Jim Henson was doing two decades ago: retelling the story for a contemporary audience. The term “original myth” is really quite tricky, because myths are alive, and they always change in the telling. And because they were often told orally there are many versions that were lost. So what I’m going to do is track down several ancient versions of the myth of the Furies or Erinyes and see how it’s changed, and what the reasons for those changes could be. Those of you who read my blog regularly must have noticed how interested I am in myths and fairy tales and the way they are passed on and transformed, so yeah, this assignment is going to be a LOT of fun for me.

Last week the weather was absolutely gorgeous, so I got to experience some perfect autumn days. What I saw every morning on my way to classes was so beautiful that I actually started waking up earlier to have time to take some pictures and see everything properly. So I leave you with a few more pictures:


  1. Oh my...your photos are absolutely lovely! What a wonderful walk you've got to class.

    And I loved reading about your classes! They sounds absolutely fascinating...I do hope you'll keep writing about them, and your projects!

    And this just reminded me...I've been meaning to thank you for your advice on our fairy tales unit. I think I'll take your suggestion of ditching The Princess Bride. And I was soooo happy to hear you thought The Book of Lost Things would be a good way to finish up things for us. I saw it at the store last week, and simply could not resist picking it up after reading your review!

  2. Those pictures are gorgeous! I don't think I'd ever make it to class with scenery like that :p

    The festival sounds like it was so much fun and it looks so convincing! We have renaissance festivals down here and I love them! They're so much fun, though nowhere near the quality of the one you went to from the pictures. I love the Green Man that you bought, he's great. I have the Green Man anthology too, I was thinking of fitting it in to next years Once Upon a Time Challenge.

    Your classes sound incredible. You're going to have fun with that Sandman paper, I'm sure! I wish we had that kind of freedom with our papers in college. We were always given very specific topics, not much choice. And how cool that y'all are watching The Storyteller! That's one of my favorite series...I miss Jim Henson so much :(

  3. What incredible pictures - thanks for sharing! I have green man envy. :-)

    It's fun hearing about your classes - it sure sounds like you are in the perfect place!

  4. Those pictures are gorgeous - thank you for sharing them. I haven't been to a renaissance fair in such a long time. They sure are fun aren't they.

  5. Debi: I will keep posting about them for sure :) And you're most welcome! I look forward to reading about how Annie is liking the unit! And of course, I really want to know what you think of The Book of Lost Things.

    Chris: I guess making it to class isn't too hard because at least inside it's nice and warm, whereas outside, beautiful though it is, it's freezing! The Robin Hood Pageat really did look realistic. I felt like I'd travelled back in time for some moments. It is surprising that we can pick our essay topic so freely for that course... I'm not used to that either. Back home they normally give us a shortish list of topics to choose from. Watching The Storyteller was awesome! I'd seen it before, but my boyfriend, who is also taking the course, hadn't, and he enjoyed it a lot.

    Darla: It really feels perfect to be here :)

    Dewey: Isn't it lovely? I really, really like it here.

    Iliana: They really are!

  6. What a lovely post to read this morning (I'm a little behind on reading my favorite blogs this week!). Your photos are beautiful. I would get up early for that walk, too!...What a beautiful way to start a day! And I loved hearing about your classes. The list of films you'll be watching is great. We loved the Jim Henson versions of the Greek Myths and I Claudius (Sir Derek Jacobi was amazing!) was one of our favorites on "Masterpiece Theater".
    I have a Green Man and Green Woman in my living room, but I haven't read The Green Man anthology. I'm adding it to my list!
    I'm glad you are enjoying your classes and your time in Nottingham.

  7. I love your photos. The pageant sounds like lots of fun and your courses sound interesting. I love looking for the Green Man in churches hiding in the ceiling or at the end of pews.


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment - interaction is one of my favourite things about blogging and a huge part of what keeps me going.