Wednesday, January 24, 2018

(Some of) What I Learned Today

Today was the first day of school.  There wasn't any reading to be done; Professor Alfie took three 50 minute blocks of time to introduce us to The Calamitous Fourteenth Century.

The 1300's saw the Avignon Papacy and the war for supremacy between Church and State, The 100 Years War (which actually lasted 117 years), and the Black Plague.

The Mini-Ice Age of the early 1300's killed crops and weakened humans, setting the stage for The Black Plague.  Carried by the fleas which were ubiquitous in medieval life, Yersinia Pestis traveled with Genghis Khan, leaving in its wake a mortality rate somewhere between one half to two thirds of those infected.

Boccaccio was one who survived.

It's no wonder, then, that he upended the conventional wisdom of the time, that Pain is redemptive and Pleasure requires punishment.  His Decameron is bawdy but not obsceneobscenity being a cultural concept, derived form the Latin - that which should not be spoken.

And, in case you were wondering, pornography, originally defined as the depiction of prostitutes, is an idea created in the 19th Century.

There was more, like the origin of banking, and there will continue to be more and more and more, just as there will be more and more and more of this blanket, which I began in class this afternoon and which I will continue to crochet for the next 9 weeks.

I can hardly wait for next Tuesday.


  1. Replies
    1. The 60 or so older learners in the room would agree with you wholeheartedly! The Humanities Seminars Program at the UofA is a real gem.


Talk back to me! Word Verification is gone!