Welcome to the seventh volume of Hortulus! This past year has been one of much change for Hortulus, and in more ways than one. Firstly—as I am sure many loyal readers have noticed—the organization has a new website and with that change comes a new contact address and completely new aesthetic. This is something the current Hortulus editors have been working on for quite some time, and we hope that you all find these alterations to be valuable as readers. With this positive new construction also brings with it a sense of bittersweet loss as well. Morgan Kay, the Website Mistress and Design Editor for Hortulus’s original construction, has finished her studies and therefore will be moving on from Hortulus to bigger and better things. We are sad to see her long-standing involvement in Hortulus come to an end—but as with all things we hope it brings with it many new opportunities for the future.
Secondly, with all the new additions this year (and the many more to come) as well as the larger uptake in submissions, readership, and editorial work we were able to welcome additional staff members to the Hortulus team. This spring’s themed issue welcomed two new assistant editors: Beth Fischer and Louise Wasson who were indispensible in helping us complete the issue. Beth is a PhD candidate in the Department of Art History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Louise is pursuing a PhD at Queens University Belfast in the Department of English.
Thirdly, 2012 marked the first year in which Hortulus was able sponsor a session at the Kalamazoo International Congress of Medieval Studies. We were sincerely impressed at the huge amount of interest the session generated and were overjoyed that we were able to expand our original proposal into two sessions for the ‘zoo. We were also impressed with the papers as they were presented in the sessions and look forward to working with the presenters in the future here at Hortulus. Additionally, the session’s theme ran parallel to this spring’s themed issue which digitally lies before you for your perusal. We hope that those of you who were able to attend Kalamazoo this year will find these articles and reviews to be beneficially supplemental to the discussions which arose from the sessions, and for those who were unable to make it we hope these papers offer you some interesting insight into the world of space/place discussions.
Space/place conversations have come to the fore in recent years in a multitude of ways including the analysis of specific spaces/places such as gardens, forests, cities, and the court. There has also been a recent surge of interest in spatially theorized topics such as travel narratives, nationalism, and the open- or closedness of specific medieval cultural areas. In this issue, Sarah Connell explores a late 12th/early 13th century Irish text, the Acallam na Senórach, for instances of identity creation through geographical space in her article “Writing on the Land of Ireland: Nationality, Textuality, and Geography in the Acallam na Senórach.” She argues the text responds directly to claims made by colonialist texts such as Gerald of Wales’s Topographia Hibernica. In our second article, “Inner Contradictions and the Precariousness of the Christian Community in William Langland’s Piers Plowman,” Clémence Cornuz explores how the Christian community (understood here as a spiritual community, not a geographical one) is represented in Piers Plowman. Cornuz argues that separation and inclusion in the community is delineated by specific acts of consumption. Our final article, by Lindsey Hansen, is “Acts of Witnessing: The Munich Ivory of the Ascension, Medieval Visuality and Pilgrimage,” in which she contends that the artistic arrangement of space creates a place where medieval viewers are able to themselves become eyewitnesses to important Christological events.
We are also pleased to include six book reviews of interest to those studying and teaching the Middle Ages. Those reviews are the following: Peter Brown’s book Chaucer and the Making of Optical Space; Megan Cassidy-Welch’s Imprisonment in the Medieval Religious Imagination, c. 1150-1400; Sharon Aronson-Lehavi’s Street Scenes: Late Medieval Acting and Performance; Caroline Walker Bynum’s Christian Materiality: An Essay on Religion in Late Medieval Europe; Joyce Tally Lionarons’s The Homiletic Writings of Archbishop Wulfstan: A Critical Study; A Cultural History of Animals in the Medieval Age, edited by Brigitte Resl; and finally Dale Serjeantson and Hannah Rees’s study, Food, Craft, and Status in Medieval Winchester: The Plant and Animal Remains from the Suburbs and City Defences.
Although there have already been a few big changes this past year at Hortulus, we would also like to draw your attention to a few more for the coming months (and hopefully years). Firstly, some of you may have noticed that there is a new section on the website called ‘General Interest.’ This new section of the website is devoted to non-peer reviewed (but edited) columns on topics which relate to medieval studies but are not academic articles. Examples of such columns will hopefully include items such as reflections on a medieval museum exhibit, a discussion on a medieval focused television program, teaching medieval studies in the classroom, a recent play related to medieval studies, a recent conference, or other related topics. We have had interest in publishing such reviews in the past and we are now happy to announce that this section of the website will be published on a rolling basis throughout the year as reviews are submitted. So please feel free to participate in this section!
Speaking of participation, we hope you enjoy this issue and invite you to participate with your comments. You can log in via any number of means by clicking the Reply button underneath each article to make comments. Anyone is welcome to participate in the discussion, whether you are a member and peer-reviewer of Hortulus or purely an interested reader. For those of you interested in contributing to the continued growth of Hortulus, please see the Job Openings section on our website for more information. We consistently welcome new graduate student peer-reviewers to our staff on a rolling basis throughout the year, and also will have special postings for assistant editorships, conference organization, and senior editorships. Additionally, all members and peer-reviewers of Hortulus are welcome to participate in our Google Discussion Group. This group is where suggestions for additions and changes to Hortulus can be posted for discussion, voting on editorial issues takes place, and regular news is posted.
One final change this year is the addition of a second edition of the journal. This year marks the first in which there will be two issues: one with a special theme and the other a general issue. Submissions for the general issue are already underway and will be due in August 2012 for autumnal publication so please see the website for more details.
Thanks again for reading!
Co-Editor of Hortulus