Brantley Bryant brings medieval history to life
Published: Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 02:09
An up and coming celebrity walks among the Sonoma State University staff. Portions of literature professor Brantley Bryant's wildly popular blog, "Geoffrey Chaucer hath a Blog," has recently been published as part of the book series "The New Middle Ages" to widespread critical acclaim.
Bryant is an assistant literature professor in the English Department and the Written English Proficiency Test (WEPT) Coordinator. Since he arrived at SSU in 2007, Bryant has taught 11 different English courses in both the graduate and undergraduate programs. He is the chair of the Academic Freedom Subcommittee, has four degrees under his belt, has written a number of academic articles and recently became a published author.
As a child, Bryant wanted to be an astronaut when he grew up. While the course of his career didn't head in the direction of outer space, he did end up traveling to another time. Bryant first achieved a B.A. in medieval studies from Swarthmore College in 1999.
His love for the medieval era remained close to his heart as his career progressed. While obtaining his masters degree in English, Bryant began to blog anonymously in the voice of the medieval writer Geoffrey Chaucer, which he writes in Middle English.
It wasn't long before Bryant discovered that a number of teachers and students of medieval literature had taken an interest in his blog; he heard a number of teachers were even using it in their classrooms. The blog is a humorous collection of writings containing jokes about medieval literature and life. The character of Chaucer discusses a wide range of topics including everything from his writing career, to internet abbreviations, to celebrities and movies.
"The blog blends the past and the present in funny ways, looking for interesting comparisons and overlaps," said Bryant. "The blog became a bit of a cult hit."
The academic publishing company Palgrave MacMillan has a series of scholarly books titled "The New Middle Ages" to which Bryant's book "Geoffrey Chaucer hath a Blog: Medieval Studies and New Media'" now belongs. His book is comprised of parts of the blog, as well as new material. Additionally, Bonnie Wheeler, a professor who runs the series of books, and senior scholar Jeffery Jerome Cohen contributed pieces to the book.
"The book is a very new hybrid of creative and scholarly work, and lots of people don't know how to categorize it," said Bryant. "It is the first and only book (so far) to be in the new library subject heading "Civilization, Medieval -- Study and Teaching -- Blogs."
Students, teachers and fans of the medieval era are not the only individuals following and enjoying the whimsical essays and pieces belonging to Bryant. Terry Jones, member of the Monty Python group and the director of "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" wrote a ‘blurb' for the back cover of Bryant's book. For Bryant, this was a very exciting element about his book.
"Since ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail' was one of the movies that showed me studying the Middle Ages could be fun, I thought it was really fitting how everything worked out," said Bryant.
Bryant's achievement is a unique contribution to literature and is a fun device used to teach and amuse students. In an excerpt from "Pop Matters," writer John L. Murphy said, "Bryant and his conspirators remind us of the joy of scholarship, too often crushed by publish-or-perish pressures. The success of this blog beyond ivory towers, or fluorescent-lit classrooms and dim cubicles, conveys the passion devoted by fans to a time they love."
The SSU library staff is working with Bryant to organize a reading on campus which will likely take place in November. Bryant says that he looks forward to seeing if the jokes in the book work when read aloud.
The link to Bryant's blog can be found at: http://houseoffame.blogspot.com/