Lost in the Myths of Time is a Stanford University summer seminar sponsored by the Bing Overseas Programs with the University of Nottingham during which we learned about landscapes of defense, identity, and culture of the medieval Mercian kingdom while exploring the kingdom itself. But, this seminar has provided more than a glimpse back in time. Through learning about medieval culture, traditions, and assumptions, we are able to question our own culture, traditions, and assumptions about the world around us. Discussions have explored literary questions about how manuscripts and records were made, who made them and why, and who had access to these written records. We have also explored cultural topics of power dynamics, liminality, and assimilation, all of which are relevant to our world today. Throughout this experience, we have had our opinions challenged, our perspectives appreciated, and our stomachs expanded. This website attempts to capture our experience of the landscapes, while also documenting our responses to all that we have learned from each other and the trip.
Our trip began at Nottingham University, where we were introduced to the medieval Mercian landscape through boundary clause analysis, ordnance survey maps and GIS mapping, field trips to nearby medieval sites, and various readings ranging from Beowulf to scholarly works on place-names. In fact, our main focus while in Nottingham was place-names and place-name analysis, providing us with a foundational knowledge of how the landscape would have looked in the medieval era, as well as providing us with purpose and context as we continued on our journey through space and time. Next, we found ourselves in Montgomery, Wales, just a few miles over the English-Welsh border. Our task on this two day field trip was to explore Offa’s Dyke, as well as to explore the ruins of Norman castles and churches that allude to the oppressive power dynamic created after the Norman conquest in 1066. By walking along Offa’s Dyke, once the border of England and Wales, gave us a glimpse of the Mercian landscapes of defense and the locations of the ruins demonstrated the oppression of the Welsh people under Norman rule. Finally, we journeyed back into England to Cambridge, most famous for its numerous colleges, but also known for its strong medieval connections. From Anglo-Saxon churches to incredible pre-Victorian architecture to field trips nearby, Cambridge became our last home base. Here, we were able to explore the easternmost parts of the once Mercian kingdom, while also reflecting on our entire experience on this seminar. This website is a culmination of all we have explored and experienced, providing a reflective outlet to share our thoughts as we come to the end of this journey through space and time.
Elaine Treharne is Roberta Bowman Denning Professor of Humanities at Stanford. She is a Welsh Anglo-Saxonist, dedicated to the promotion of Medieval Studies broadly, and that’s why she chose to design “Lost in the Myths of Time: Landscape, Language and Identity”. There is nothing like being immersed in the landscape (literally, in the case of the muddy Salt Street in Appleby Parva) to understand and imagine what early medieval texts might refer to; how the Anglo-Saxons and Celts might have travelled, communicated, fought, farmed, lived and died together; and how the landscape transformed the lives of earlier generations, but was also transformed by those who passed through it.
Dr Jayne Carroll is Director of the Institute for Name-Studies at the University of Nottingham, where she runs multiple major projects on place-names, as well as teaching on early English language and literature. She has published on English place-names and literature in Old English, Old Norse, and Latin.
Matt Aiello is the graduate assistant for this seminar. He is a PhD Student at UPenn studying Medieval Literature and History of the Book, and has degrees from Stanford, University of Oxford, and UCLA.
Maria Bojorquez is a second-year undergraduate at Stanford University currently undeclared but interested in the humanities subjects. She was attracted by the seminar’s exploration of place-name origins and the prospect of visiting areas such as Sherwood Forest that are packed with literary significance. A book-reading fanatic and admirer of a good hike, Maria has enjoyed her first study-abroad experience and appreciated this immersive educational opportunity.
Jack Dewey is a recent graduate of Stanford University, majoring in philosophy. After discovering an interest in the medieval period during his senior year through a course on Dante, he decided to pursue this seminar as an opportunity to broaden his experience in medieval studies. He will begin a masters program this fall at Yale in Religion and Literature. In his free time, Jack enjoys going for walks, listening to Stevie Wonder, reading poetry, and daydreaming.
Elizabeth Steen is a rising sophomore at Stanford University. Her academic interests include political and social structures, motivations behind human migration, and history, specifically issues related to women’s history, Korean history, or British history. She was excited to participate in this seminar in order to learn more about Anglo-Saxon history and has especially enjoyed the group’s many cathedral visits. In her spare time, she likes drinking coffee, visiting libraries, taking road trips, and exploring food markets.
Kiana Pancino is a rising sophomore at Stanford University. Although undeclared, she is interested in pursuing a degree in either Management Science and Engineering or Math and Computational Science. Kiana’s passion for history and experiencing new and exciting material out of her comfort zone inspired her to apply for this program, and is now leaving her with an unforgettable first-time-abroad experience as well as memories and friends that will last a lifetime. In addition to playing softball for Stanford, Kiana loves to spend her time hiking, going on bike rides, travelling, and eating pasta.
Liz Fischer is a recent graduate of Stanford University, studying English and computer science. After the seminar's conclusion, she is moving to Austin, TX to start a PhD in English focused on book history and medieval studies. In her free time, Liz enjoys knitting, video games, and watching British panel shows
Jessica Rodriguez is a rising sophomore at Stanford University, considering on majoring in mechanical engineering or product design (although she took almost all humanity courses last year). She chose this seminar to continue her academic exploration and has thoroughly enjoyed learning about the medieval period and seeing the medieval castles and cathedrals. She enjoys reading, movies, and anything sugary.
Cole Thomson is a rising Junior at Stanford studying mechanical engineering. 12 years ago a good friend of his moved to England and sent back a couple ‘Horrible Histories’ books which got him hooked on British history, particularly the Roman and Anglo-Saxon periods. He wanted to come on this seminar to see the landscapes and structures he read about in real life, and particularly enjoyed walking along Offa’s Dyke. When not studying Cole can be found playing trombone in the Stanford Wind Symphony, testing bird feathers in his lab, or buying obscure British rock records from outdoor markets.
Dylan Bedford is a rising junior at Stanford University. His favorite pastimes include geocaching, squirrel-watching, and long hikes up steep hills. Born and raised in New England, he very much enjoyed wandering about Old England (and Wales) over the course of this course, gaining insights on place-names, history, and the philosophy of physical space. Though he has yet to declare, he plans to major in English and continue exploring Medieval Studies at Stanford.
Raci Lynch is a rising senior majoring in Symbolic Systems with a concentration in Natural Language. In her free time, you can find Raci trying to pronounce obscure IPA symbols and geeking out over pleonastic pronouns. She just finished her spring quarter abroad in Paris and is overjoyed to get to spend more time in Europe. An anglophile through and through, Raci is excited to be in the land of Aero chocolate, Doctor Who, and the correct pronunciation of the word “scone.”
Corie Wieland is a third-year undergraduate and first-year transfer student to Stanford University. She studies International Relations and was drawn to the Nottingham Seminar by its emphasis on place names, origins, and the timeless routeways of the past. She loves coffee, cats, and losing herself in both landscapes and cityscapes. She plans to spend the upcoming school year abroad with Stanford’s Bing Overseas Study Program.
Karen Wang is currently pursuing a joint bachelor’s/master’s degree in computer science. She studied abroad at Oxford two years ago, and decided to come back for the Cherry Bakewells. Also, having grown up on fairy tales set in the English landscape, she is interested in learning about how place and space inform one’s culture and identity. In addition to exceedingly good tarts, she enjoys perusing commie bookshops and finding benches to sit on.
Hayley Hodson is a third-year undergraduate at Stanford University. She is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing and chose to apply for the seminar in order to deepen her love for British culture and extend her knowledge of Anglo-Saxon language and history. She loves the Classics, reading, writing, film, travel, and coffee.
Sarah Phillips is entering her third year of undergraduate studies at Stanford University. She is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish language and culture studies, as well as pursuing two minors: one in Italian language and culture studies and the other in Latin American history. She wanted to come on this trip to push herself out of her comfort zone, both academically and physically. Her favorite part of this trip was exploring her surroundings, from the old lace market of Nottingham to the fields surrounding Offa’s dyke.
Clare Tandy is a third year student at Stanford University, majoring in Product Design and hoping to coterm in Classics. She was born and raised in the Bay Area, and enjoys baking gluten free croissants, painting, and building castles and Roman villas on creative mode in Minecraft. She has greatly enjoyed seeing ruined versions of those castles in the English landscape, as well as learning about cultural sedimentation through placenames.