Gail Berlin of the Department of English has returned from a year-long sabbatical during which she completed four papers:
- “Constructing Tonwenna: A Gesture in Context,” concerning the ancient breast-baring gesture as it appears in the Early Middle English Lawman’s Brut;
- “Behold the Breast: A Gesture and Its History,” a much longer history of the same cryptic gesture, in art and literature, ranging from 2,000 years BCE up to the 1600s and beyond;
- “Like a Duck Before a Falcon: Moses in Middle English Literature,” an examination of the representation and reception of Moses in literature from 1200–1500, particularly in the mystery plays and in Piers Plowman; and
- “There Once Was Elźunia: Empathy in the Teaching of Holocaust Literature.”
Three of these have been submitted for publication; the fourth is on its way.
Dr. Berlin also presented the paper on Tonwenna at the International Lawman’s Brut Conference held in Wales in July 2008. During the trip to England and Wales, she had a chance to visit the Hereford Mappamundi (world map), do research in a medieval chained library (yes, the books are really chained to the book case), and examine bunnies, hounds, musicians, and dancers (to name some of the tamer figures) adorning the wall of a lovely Romanesque church.