Sunday, 23 May 2010

The Word Hoard (Kalamazoo Acquisitions 2010)

So I said we'd be posting about a number of things. We've decided to skip directly to a brief (ha!) report on the books we bought at the ICMS. Every year we spend more than we should, but it's so, so worth it. :) So without further ado: books!


This one wins the prize for Best Deal Ever: Roy Liuzza is the editor for this collection of essays which includes Katherine O'Brien O'Keefe on Orality and Cædmon's Hymn, Jocelyn Wogan-Browne on Ælfric and Christian heroic poetry, and Robert Bjork on exile and The Wanderer (among many others!). Sure it's not the most recent scholarship in the world (compiled in 2002), but it's not dated. And what's that on the price tag? $5.95? Oh who would pay such a hefty sum! $3.00, ladies and germs. That almost makes up for the rest of what I spent.


This one wins for unexpected but cool impulse buy. In the Sources of Anglo-Saxon Literary Culture series, The Apocrypha, edited by Frederick Biggs. Basically a listing of the apocryphal texts known in Anglo-Saxon England. Very useful for my work. And relevant to my interests. $10.

This one was a shock to me. I work on rhetoric in Anglo-Saxon England, and I NEEDED a copy of Bede's de schematibus et tropiis, but the only good copy was in the CCSL CXXIIIA: part one of Beda Venerabilis Opera -- Opera Didiscalica. Which in hardcover is $225.00. Little did I know that, walking past the Brepols table I would see a cheaper, paperback copy, one that would itself, upon my mentioning that I was a poor student, be reduced in price by half. $46.50. And I'm happy about it.

These two are my last two. Part of my ongoing quest to own a complete set of the Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records by Krapp and Dobbie, I managed to get these (too new feeling and shiny-white to be originals, but they'll do just fine) for $29 and $35, though I can't remember which for which. Either way, not a bad deal. Now I have I, IV and VI, and will continue to be on the lookout for II, III, and V. Gotta catch 'em all!

Now I'll turn you over to Vaulting, who, for roughly the same amount of money, purchased one more book -- all of which are fancy and expensive art books. Who's the better shopper? I think we know:


Kalamazoo is absolutely the best place to buy art history texts. One, you can actually handle the books, rather than squinting at the thumbnail images in the catalog and wondering if it's an actual scholarly work or a glorified coffee table book; and are the images any good? Or were they hurriedly printed out at Kinko's the night before it went to press? (see: my dissertation). At K'zoo, you can browse the shelves, flip through anything that catches your fancy, check the binding, and make sure the images are large enough to be useful. This is heaven.

Second, the books for sale are relevant and useful. There's only so many times you can browse through the publisher's catalog, searching for good medieval art history tomes, and instead finding only northern Renaissance artists masquerading as "Late Medieval," before you just start throwing the damn things out as soon as they arrive. So Kalamazoo is always a breath of fresh air.

Third - Cheap. Used. Books. I'm sold.

Finally purchased this fundamental text, the first and only work produced by the man responsible for my status as a medieval art historian. The Tapestry is a little outside my period, but I'm not sure I can call myself a proper scholar of medieval art without having at least one book about it on my shelf. $35.

This would be one of those glorified coffee table books. But it's pretty! And a great big thick hardcover with wonderful pictures for $12! I couldn't say no.

I am slowly building my collection of Mâle. This probably reveals a great deal about my training and the kind of art historian I am, but I love Mâle. You have to take everything he says with a cup-full of salt, but he was one of the first and still one of the best, considering his time period. I have small, inadequate versions of his 13th century volume (this one is the Late Middle Ages), and very nearly bought a large, shiny version before realizing I should probably acquire all the books I need before upgrading my copies. Still on the look out for the English version of the 12th century volume. This one was half off, Sunday morning: $25.

Probably wouldn't have bought this except that my paper this year dealt very specifically with Autun and its hell scene. (as I bought this two days before presenting my paper, I had nightmares of opening it to discover I had completely misinterpreted everything... or that perhaps my argument had already been made, over half a century ago. Thankfully, neither of these things were true) But again, it's large, hardcover, with 150 very pretty pictures. A steal at $35 (the next stall over was selling it for $75... I literally sprinted back to grab this one).

I'm a sucker for the Yale University Press/Pelican History of Art books. I already had Crossley's revision of Frankl's Gothic Architecture, so it was with sheer geeky delight that I placed this one next to it. Two matching books! More importantly, however, is that there is a distinct lack of surveys on Gothic sculpture. I'd been fighting Google Books over this very text for a full month before finding it on the shelf.* A no-brainer; they could have charged me four times what they did, and I would have bought it. I think I paid $20 for it.

And the crowning jewel of my Kalamazoo purchases. Brand new, discounted to $28, and a veritable who's who in studies of art in the "long 12th century." I spent the two hours driving back across Michigan reading the first few articles - at great risk of car sickness. I'm in love. Did I mention it was only published two years ago? And its companion piece, on Gothic, will be out in time for next year's K'zoo? Bliss.

I restrained myself from purchasing Sauerländer's Gothic Sculpture in France, because while I'm sure it's worth absolutely every penny, I simply don't have $275. Nor could I come up with the $950 required for Viollet-le-Duc's Dictionnaire raisonné de l’architecture française (especially as it's available in its entirety on Wikisource.) That said, I consider this all a great success.

*Day one: I can read pages 35-36, but not the crucial footnote 81.
Day two: I have page 35, but not 36 or the footnote.
Day three: Page 35 and the footnote are legible; what did page 36 say again?
Day three: Only footnote 81.
Day four: None of the above.
Day five: Lather, rinse, repeat. What did that footnote say again?


tenthmedieval said...

I am deeply envious of some of Vaulting's purchases. My period loosely encompasses the Romanesque, and a great deal of the standing church architecture in my area is of that ilk, so I am easily enthused by photoes of sturdy-looking monasteries poised precipitously in mile-high corries (how much fun would taking that picture have been, eh?) but I also had to actually teach Romanesque briefly this year just gone, via the example of the Autun tympanum, and though I doubt I would have had time to read it I wish I'd known about that Gislebertus volume. Can you provide a few more details on that? And also, what are you saying about Autun? I am intrigued.

Thing I could not ever justify the expense of but was horribly tempted by anyway: the second-hand facsimile edition of the Lorsch Gospels on sale at Powell's. I don't think they shifted it, and I couldn't have carried it, but it called to me, it really did.

Vaulting said...

Ohhh, I'm glad I waltzed right by the Lorsch Gospels... that would also have been tempting.

Gislebertus, Sculptor of Autun is a quick read; there are only a few short chapters identifying the iconography and why we should care about this Gislebertus fellow; the rest is very high quality photographs. What the book says in those few chapters, however, is very useful from an iconographical standpoint.

As far as Autun in my K'zoo paper - I looked at 14 representations of the damned on church tympana between 1100 and 1300. In the end, all I compared were the compositions of each (which nicely fell into roughly three categories), but I spent a great deal of time analyzing the iconography as well.

Autun falls into the first category of 'representations with multiple non-sculptural sources.' Most of the 12th century representations were very individualistic and seem to have drawn on a wide variety of sources - manuscripts and visions of hell probably being the most influential. I contrasted this to the string of representations at Laon, Chartres, Paris, Amiens and Reims 1200 - 1230, which all come from a common source (possibly Laon) and show relatively little innovation and creativity. (The third group, from the later 13th century, includes representations inspired by this 'Paris style', but still with a great deal of individual creativity evident).

Oh, also - I got the chance to flip through The Monastic World last night, and it's a wonderful book. More fabulous photos, and it seems to be a great summary of the development of all things monastic throughout the Middle Ages.

tenthmedieval said...

Thankyou for the further details!

theswain said...

With Tenth, I'm envious!

Vellum: you and I really need to chat more....esp. if you have an interest in SASLC sorts of things. Really. Who is your adviser?

Vaulting: Um, I happen to know a certain journal that would be interested in a good art history paper from a certain scholar about devilish things in some town in France. And the dates fit. Send me your K'zoo paper and we'll talk. Now wouldn't it be nice if you both had papers in the same issue?