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Here Ye, Fear Ye #2

If you missed the last “Here Ye, Fear Ye”, it is a new feature on the bog where I’ll share stories and articles about censorship, intellectual freedom, or other related issues. Sometimes I stumble across awesome stories or cool info but don’t necessarily have the time to make a full post of each one, or don’t have enough to say beyond just “Read the article! It’s interesting and can say it all better!” This is a place for those stories. All caught up now? Good. Here’s the second installment. Read More…


No Gaeilge?

To be honest, St. Patrick’s Day kind of stresses me out. Between the stereotypes, inaccuracies and downright falsehoods perpetuated about the Irish and the holiday itself, I end up feeling like I’m drowning in a sea of wrong. However, as I am merely an Irish American (and not all Irish at that) and do not speak the language (though I own several books on it in the eternal hope that I will remedy this), I end up feeling like the worst little pseudo-oppressed hipster when I try to correct or complain about anything, even if I have studied Irish history and mythology. And once danced in a Killarney pub with fellow Bound & Gagged banned books blogger, Hannah. Read More…

Top Manuscript News of 2013

Hey, folks. I bring you another article from medievalfragments. It’s a round up of the year in manuscripts. While we’ve touched on illuminated manuscripts and the dangers they’ve faced some on this blog, it has largely been in a historical context. The first story here, about Medieval Islamic manuscripts thought destroyed by rebel troops in Northern Mali reminds us that things like the destruction of the Library of Alexandria, the censorship of non-Christian texts during the Spanish Inquisition, or Nazi book burnings are not the atrocities of some older age, they are happening right now. Luckily, in a twist right out of Geraldine Brooks’s People of the Book, many of the manuscripts were later revealed to have been secreted away. The other stories here about digitizing manuscript collections, while not as dramatic, are attempts to further increase our access to information, as well as safeguarding our world heritage and literary/historical treasures from the fate of too many books burned, lost, or stolen through the years. Censorship (and knowledge lost to time and decay) is a global problem and all world history is our history. Efforts to protect, preserve, and restore our ancient texts and written works should not be the concern of one country, one museum, or one manuscript preservationist. We are all responsible for the safekeeping of our past, thus ensuring access to that information in our future.


By Jenneka Janzen

First, a very Happy New Year to all our readers from the Turning Over a New Leaf Project!

2013 was an exciting year for manuscripts! New technologies and growing digitization programmes enhanced avenues of access and exploration for researchers, while an interested non-expert public kept exhibitions, blogs, and the latest manuscript news in the limelight. Let’s take a quick look back at some of (what I think were) the best manuscript news items of 2013.

Escape of the Timbuktu Manuscripts

In early 2013, violence erupted in Northern Mali, where rebel troops burned two institutes said to house thousands of Islamic manuscripts dating as far back as the twelfth century. Shortly after the calamity, it was revealed that most of the manuscripts had been earlier secreted away to protect them from the looming conflict. Reported widely by international media, this story highlighted the threat that military conflicts pose…

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By Any Other Name

“What’s the difference?”

“One is my name; the other is not.”

– Star Trek: The Next Generation, Data correcting a woman who mispronounced his name

I’ve posted before about languages and the politics therein, as banning or not speaking languages has a similar although magnified impact as banning or not reading books. It is a loss of knowledge, ideas, and history, whether an intentional destruction or an accidental loss. Recently, I happened to stumble upon a blog dedicated to telling personal or family stories about reclaiming one’s name in the wake of colonialism and it seemed relevant, if more personal. The Reclaim Your Name blog features stories from people, be they Irish, Inuit, Maori, or Navajo, about their experiences with personal or family names being changed, assigned, anglicized, or standardized and their attempts to reclaim them. You can add your own story to the blog. Read More…

I’m Not Dead Yet

I spoke previously about dead and lesser spoken languages in my post Dead Tongues Tell No Tales. Those interested in reading more on minority languages, their attempts to make a come back, and the legal/social struggles therein may find this article illuminating.

I hope you all had a good Easter, Ostara, or Passover. I’ll be posting a follow-up review of The Da Vinci Code movie adaptation sometime this week. As always, thanks for reading, commenting, and sharing. May the Bard be with you.

Dead Tongues Tell No Tales

IrishReadsToday is St. Patrick’s Day. For many around the world, especially here in America, that means shamrock Mardi Gras beads, pub crawling, and a drunken bacchanalia in the name of one’s Irish heritage. This is largely due to the fact that the Irish, whether because of famine, occupation, or genocide, are a diasporic people with descendants scattered worldwide. However, it is a pet peeve of many how little people claiming Irish heritage know about Ireland, its history, its politics, or its impact on the world. For example, while getting feedback on a story set in Ireland, hardly anyone in my college level writing workshop group knew the difference between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Read More…