13 May 2009

Exam number one is done!!!! I have to admit that it was rough. I didn't get to sleep until 5:30am (not by my own fault, believe me) and was awoken at 10am by a man coming to measure my window for a new pane of glass. I spent two hours recording important addendums from my class notes onto my revision notes, ate lunch, and then spent an hour and a half reviewing my notes one last time. My exam was held in the Richard Verney Health Centre underneath Potterow. It was a bit daunting to see how they hold exams at a big university. My Popular Religion class was the second one called into the room. We had to sign several forms to mark our presence at the exam and keep our matriculation cards out at all times.

The exam itself was not too hard. We had to answer two questions (out of 8) in two hours, which is not terrible. However, I've pushed myself to the breaking point over the past year and a half, and my hand started cramping up two minutes in. Not a good sign at all. My first question was to discuss whether or not paganism and superstition existed only in the minds of churchmen in the late middle ages. I argued that yes, it did, as by the late middle ages most formerly pagan practices had been christianized and incorporated into the church. Indeed, this was how the church eased the path towards conversion. By taking pagan practices, re-modelling them to fit christian beliefs, and then incorporating them into popular christian practices, they would provide the laity with familiar traditions with which to follow and, hopefully, reconcile them to christianity. My examples included wells and springs (delving a bit into saints' cults and St. Guinefort), ghost and vampire stories, usage of charms, and festivals (Rogationtide).

My second essay argued that fewer women were attracted to Lollardy since the late medieval parish community provided them with roles which Lollardy denied them. Examples included fundraising opportunities (women often arranged festivals, brewed church ales), leadership positions (guilds, alewoman, etc.), domestic (they contributed in domestic ways to the parish community), and devotional (pilgrimages, devotion to images, veneration of saints). All of this was not possible under Lollardy which reinforced gender and familial roles, placing women under the male head of household. I had hoped to get six examples for each question, but this proved to be impossible. I barely finished my second essay in time, anyways. 13 A4 pages in the exam booklet. Ugh, ugh.

Afterward, I joined Kelly and Katie for lunch at Tasty Tatee's, a jacket potato joint. It has been ages since I've had a potato (in stark contrast to last semester at St. Peter's), so it was heaven. I then sat out on the Meadows enjoying the sun for two hours and am now preparing to force myself to get friendly with James VI and I. Oh yeah.

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