Sunday, 31 January 2010

King's College London, RIP

Things are very bad at King's College London. Evidently there's a budgetary crisis and they have responded by cutting two of the most successful, important luminaries they could possibly have found, Professor Lappin in Philosophy and Professor Ganz, Chair of Paleography. It is hard to believe such a decision. The logic of it makes no sense, minimal costs reaping enormous benefits. The next time King's dares to boast about its rankings on any league tables, then one can only bow one's head in shame and disgust. If they go through with this, it is hard to see how it can recover.

On a completely different note, Vice Chancellors seem to be doing rather well, despite the cuts.

I print this from the Facebook group entitled 'Save Paleography at King's':

The following from Jeffrey Hamburger:

Dear colleagues,

The letter below brings bad news. I normally do not leap into such petition drives, but in this case I think it behooves all of us to read it and to act on it by writing a stiff letter of protest to the persons named as quickly as possible. If you, in turn, know of other groups (beyond Apices, whence this comes) to which this could be circulated, please do so immediately.

Yours, Jeffrey Hamburger

King’s College London is undertaking what they call ‘strategic disinvestment’ and have informed our colleague, David Ganz, on Tuesday that funding for the Chair in Palaeography will cease from 31 August this year, when David will be out of a job. This is part of a wider context whereby all academic staff in the School of Arts and Humanities at King’s have to re-apply for their own jobs before the 1st March. They think this the “most humane way” of losing 22 academic posts.

King’s Chair is the only established chair in Palaeography in the UK (held by our late members Julian Brown and Tilly de la Mare). I am, naturally, writing on behalf of the Comite to express dismay at the loss of the Chair but the more people who write in protest the better.

The person to write to is: Professor Rick Trainor, The Principal, King’s College, The Strand, London WC2R 2LS and copy to Professor Jan Palmowski, Head of the School of Arts and Humanities.

Jeffrey F. Hamburger, Kuno Francke Professor of German Art & Culture
Chair, Medieval Studies Committee

Dept. of History of Art & Architecture, Harvard University
485 Broadway, Cambridge MA 02138; Tel. 617 495-8732; Fax 617 495-1769

Friday, 29 January 2010

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Mappa Mundi

Listen to Claire Armitstead's podcast on the Guardian website with the poet Phillip Gross, whose collection The Water Table (Bloodaxe, 2009) has won this year's T. S. Eliot Prize. Very interesting (though brief) remarks on good reading, on the importance of deep and engaged reading.

Since this week I heard a very engaging paper by Dr Alfred Hiatt, of Queen Mary, University of London's excellent English department, entitled: 'Maps in and out of literature', I'm going to reproduce a poem from Gross's previous collection, called Mappa Mundi (Bloodaxe, 2003).

Mappa Mundi

In the land of mutual rivers,
it is all conversation: one flows uphill, one flows down.
Each ends in a bottomless lake which feeds the other
and the boatmen who sail up, down, round and round
never age, growing half a day older, half a day younger
every time... as long as they never step on land.

In the land of always autumn
people build their houses out of fallen leaves
and smoke, stitched together with spiders' webs.
At night they glow like parchment lanterns and the voices
inside cluster to a sigh. Tell us a story, any story, except
hush, please, not the one about the wind.

In the land where nothing happens twice
there are always new people to meet;
you just look in the mirror. Echoes learn to improvise.
So it's said... We've sent some of the old
to investigate, but we haven't heard yet. When we
catch up with them, we might not know.

In the land of sounds you can see
we watch the radio, read each other's lips, dread
those audible nightfalls. We pick through the gloom
with one-word candles home... however... only... soon...
while pairs of lovers hold each other, speechless,
under the O of a full black moon.

In the land of hot moonlight
the bathing beaches come alive at midnight.
You can tell the famous and rich by their silvery tans
which glow ever so slightly in the dark
so at all the best parties there's a moment when the lights go out
and you, only you, seem to vanish completely.

In the land of migratory words
we glance up, come the season, at telegraph wires
of syllables in edgy silhouette against a moving sky
like code, unscrambling. Any day now they'll fall into place
and be uttered. Then the mute months. The streets
without names. The telephone that only burrs.


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