Not on the quality of my writing, sorry! No, I realised the other day that I’ve reached a level of familiarity with the subject I am studying where I feel I can get away with pop culture references. Don’t get me wrong, the occasional Monty Python or Airplane (or Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings or whatever) joke came up in the conversation, but I had never actually done something like that on coursework. And then I was assigned to do a presentation on Culhwch and Olwen, which, when you take out all the death, violence and magic, is the story of an overprotective father who won’t let his daughter date anyone and kills anyone brave (or stupid) enough to try. Cue a frantic search for relevant jokes and kudos to Google for providing me with this little gem:
So why do I consider this a level-up? Well, think about it. If you’re going to seriously study something (in my case Medieval Literature), then the least you can do is treat your subject with the respect you’d show someone much older than you (who also happens to be in possession of several embarrassing anecdotes from your parents’ youth). Eventually however, you will start gaining familiarity with them, until you are trading stories instead of just listening. I claim to be no expert in Middle Welsh poetry or Arthurian legends. I can only say that I have spent enough time reading (about) them to recognise names, themes and patterns and to see them more as a part of a long chain of literary works that -when stripped to their bare bones- all go back to the same subjects, rather than as a remote and separate entity that cannot be comprehended (I leave that sort of holy terror for the moments I have to speak on the phone. I HATE talking on the phone!)
Next level-up would be for me to be capable of stringing two sentences together in Middle English, if only to enjoy the look of shock on the faces around me if it ever happened in casual conversation. I do that sometimes with Shakespearean expressions and the result is usually hilarious.
P.S. Cookies to whoever guesses which Monty Python and Airplane references we made most often!