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culture

Holiday Heritage: Springerle

Anyone who knows me knows that---in stereotypical American fashion---I identify strongly with my European heritage, especially during the holiday season when lots of old traditions are dredged up each year. I'm German American. I am aware that many native-born Germans turn up their nose at Americans claiming German ancestry, but I'd like to think I… Continue reading Holiday Heritage: Springerle

history, travel

A Visit to Keldur, Iceland

Anyone familiar with Iceland has likely heard something about turf houses, the iconic grass-roofed houses that grace the countryside, carried over from insulation methods in medieval Norway. I wrote once before about Rútshellir, a famous old cave guarded by a turf-covered barn. But while the cave itself might be the oldest man-made residence in Iceland,… Continue reading A Visit to Keldur, Iceland

history, linguistics, literature

Dragons and Sin in Medieval Germanic Literature

Dragon-like figures feature prominently in folklore from around the world. They often hold---or once held---special significance to their respective cultures. Chinese dragons historically symbolized good luck and imperial power, and were used in iconography surrounding the emperor. The founder of the Han dynasty went so far as to claim that his mother dreamt of a… Continue reading Dragons and Sin in Medieval Germanic Literature

literature

Death of the Author: An Analysis of Wordsworth

Anyone who's studied the English canon has likely been exposed to the famous daffodils in "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud." William Wordsworth was undoubtedly passionate about the natural world in general--it featured prominently in his poetry, and, together with Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey, he was grouped rather disparagingly as one of the… Continue reading Death of the Author: An Analysis of Wordsworth