Medieval Latin Online Summer 2014: Malchus and Brendan


Whale, ink and pigment on vellum, anonymous illustrator from the Harley Bestiary, c 1235. Source:

In the summer of 2014 Professors William Turpin (Swarthmore College, Classics) and Bruce Venarde (University of Pittsburgh, History) will offer a second free online Latin translation course, meeting as a Google Hangout. The class will meet once a week starting on Monday, June 2nd, from 8:00PM to 9:15 or 9:30 PM EST, and will continue for perhaps ten weeks. We will be translating and discussing Jerome's "Life of Malchus" and the anonymous "Voyage of St. Brendan." Both texts are interesting in themselves (at times they are downright exciting), and they are important documents in the history of Medieval monasticism. The course is intended for students who have completed a year or so of classical Latin at the college level, or the equivalent in high school. It should also be suitable for those whose Latin may be a little rusty, or for more accomplished Latinists with an interest in medieval Latin. To participate or to receive updates on the course it will necessary to have a Google account, and to join the Google Plus "Community" called "Medieval Latin (Summer 2014): Malchus and Brendan.” Google Hangouts will allow eight active participants (i.e. people who may wish to translate a particular section of text) and an unlimited number of auditors, who will be able to follow on YouTube and submit questions and comments using the messaging function. The sessions will also be archived on YouTube (sessions from 2013 can be found if you search “Gesta Francorum”); this will make it possible for people to catch up for missed sessions if they wish to, and of course it will make the sessions easier for people in different time zones. Anyone wanting to be an active participant will need a computer with a webcamera and microphone, and perhaps also a quiet room. We will provide a webpage for interested participants to sign up for particular sections of the text; such participants will then be invited to translate and to raise questions or comment as seems appropriate. The "instructors," and other active participants will offer assistance and comments as necessary, just as in an ordinary class with participants sitting around a table. The basic intention of this course is to replicate to the extent possible the experience of a student in (say) a college Latin class at the early intermediate level, minus the quizzes, tests, and continuing assessment; at present we have no mechanism for awarding credit or certificates of attendance. The most immediate model, in fact, may be an informal reading group devoted to a particular ancient or medieval text. The basic premise, as with those reading groups, is that a small community of interested participants can both encourage and enhance what is essentially a private encounter with a text. For texts and signup sheet go to Questions may be addressed to

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