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Great Blog on Book Design

This is a great blog that looks primarily at book design. For each book that they review the designer writes a bit about his design process.

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Importance of Story

Illustrates again the importance of story. Relates to podcast by editor of wired on econtalk. Design thinking blog:


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Sample Class Site

The following posts suggest how a WordPress class site and blog could serve a variety of uses in a typical class.

Chronology begins at the bottom. . .

Key Features of Class Sites (beta):

- students and faculty can check in on class on iPhone and at computer (currently Blackboard courses don’t allow mobile access)

- faculty can add announcements, assignments, or blog posts via email

- faculty can upload handouts, images, audio, and video via email

- student accounts can allow them to post text, links, images, audio, or video to blog as well (easy to turn on and off)

- blog comments can be turned on and off

- future posts can be set to appear during or after class

We’re confident our first round of users will find additional uses (and needs). Like Blackboard, the Course Site is simply a class communication tool. You decide how best to use it.

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Putting the Pieces Together

For those who find poetry, especially Old English poetry, something of a puzzle, this may help the pieces fall together.

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Trial Video (uploads now working)

Posterous says they have fixed video upload links. I’ll check when I get back to Abilene.

Click here to download:

HD_podcast_howto.m4v (3976 KB)

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Sutton Hoo artifacts

Here are just a couple of the objects from the British Museum we’ll be talking about in class next week. I look forward to reading the rest of your artifact posts.

See and download the full gallery on posterous

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Timeline Transcript

For those who weren’t able to open the Timeline 1 transcript, here is a PDF version. 

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Module 1 Checklist

The first week of any class can be disorienting, nonetheless a hybrid course. As you move through the assignments in Module 1, here is a quick checklist to keep you on track. Feel free to leave questions below if you’re not sure what’s next. 


Module Checklist

    - Review British Invasions timeline
    - Read Comitatus lecture
    - Post Beowulf Discussion assignment
    - Read/reply to posts from your Discussion Group

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FYI Fellowship and Tolkien

    J. R. R. Tolkien was an Anglo Saxon scholar, intimately familiar with the values of Beowulf and his world. His Lord of the Rings trilogy, recently adapted to the screen, draws heavily on the heroic codes of Germanic peoples of northern Europe. The warriors of Rohan and their culture proud of its strength, its weapons, and its heritage provide a useful parallel for the Spear-Danes of Heorot. Spend a couple minutes looking at the architecture of the Golden Hall in Peter Jackson’s The Two Towers (2002). What effect would this kind of structure have on visitors to Rohan? What symbolic importance or function might such a great hall serve in the lives of the tribe? As you consider the power that these stories still hold over audiences today, be ready to discuss similarities and differences between the heroic values of the past and the code that drives screen heroes of today. We will explore these themes in the following Discussion Assignment.

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Comitatus Lecture preview

    At the end of the first century AD, the Roman historian Tacitus wrote the first detailed account of the “barbarians” on the empire’s northern frontier. In his Germania, Tacitus describes the customs of dozens of clans (including the Angles) all governed by a common world view he defined as the comitatus. Under this code, warriors owed their allegiance to a chief or king. In exchange for his protection and hospitality, these thanes pledged undying loyalty to the leader and the clan:    

    When they go into battle, it is a disgrace for the chief to be surpassed in valor, a disgrace for his followers not to equal the valor of the chief. And it is an infamy and a reproach for life to have survived the chief, and returned from the field. To defend, to protect him, to ascribe one’s own brave deeds to his renown, is the height of loyalty. The chief fights for victory; his vassals fight for their chief. (Germania)

    As Tacitus describes it, the comitatus becomes a heroic code which values courage in battle and allegiance to one’s clan. The “brave deeds” of a warrior were then repaid by the “liberality of the chief” through gift-giving and the hospitality of the mead hall. The Germanic people honored such deeds and gifts in great poems and “ancient songs, their only way of remembering or recording the past.” Within such a pagan or pre-Christian culture, these “brave deeds” promised the young warrior his only hope of being remembered and, in effect, of immortality. 

    For all the distinctions that Tacitus tries to draw between the “barbarians” to the north and his civilized readers in Rome, what is most intriguing is the similarities of world view to be found in the comitatus and the classical epic. Ancient heroes like Homer’s Achilles or Virgil’s Aeneas were equally committed to the ideals of courage, honor, and bravery in battle. 

    Watch the following clips from two films illustrating these competing world views, and be ready to discuss obvious differences and surprising similarities between the way each ties immortality to the memory of “brave deeds.”

    Comitatus Clips - view or download at iTunes U


    Comitatus Clips - view low-resolution Flash clip online

    *Feel free to post questions as comments before class on Tuesday. See you there. 

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