Thank-you for visiting my blog. My name is Lucas Coia and I am a Master of Arts candidate in the History department at Brock University in St. Catharines, Canada, working under the supervision of Dr. Colin Rose. The plan is to complete my thesis by the summer of 2020.
This is a blog dedicated to my MA thesis project, “Off the Beaten Path.” It will track its development, as well as provide updates on my own progression through the grad school experience. I want to provide a series of snapshots of my work as it takes shape, and in doing so, hope to consolidate and ultimately make meaning of, for myself and for you, a number of intellectual threads as they enter my thinking. I hope it will be interesting and meaningful to read for all people, as well those in academia.
Throughout my post-secondary education, I have been working in a conscious effort at weaving together a sophisticated, intellectually rigorous worldview. I believe that aspects of critical theory are enormously valuable. It is necessary, for instance, not only to question our cultural preconceptions, but also to ask ourselves how we can apply the fruits of this discourse to make a positive impact on our environment and the life that inhabits it, all while striving for empathy. What may seem like something so simple can alter entire cultural realities for the better. What, after all, is more liberating than the freedom to cross at will the culturally-determined mental threshold that stifles our natural propensity for curious self-betterment? The way to do this in an effective and sensitive manner is, admittedly, one of my foremost concerns. It is certainly not simple, and I hope that this blog will aid me, as well as you, in grappling with this issue. It is, after all, an endeavour worth labouring for. It would be quite a waste indeed, to exercise the kind of mental energy that these kind of debates demand, only to let the words, thoughts, and ideas produced carelessly drift away to oblivion, a place where they are of no more use than an obscure medieval manuscript, tucked away in a dank church basement, waiting in vain for an historian to find it.
The purpose of “Off the Beaten Path” then, is two-fold. It is, first and foremost, a project that is interested in the Christianity of the Middle Ages. It is aimed at exploring the cult of saints in one particular time and place, namely, rural southern Italy between approximately, 1200-1500. At the same time, I am also striving to make sense of the nature of culture, quite generally. Where is it that culture comes from? What are the real world implications of the answer to this question? I hope to be in a position to answer, however provisionally, these questions by the summer of 2020. I also hope that, by thinking about this project in broader terms, I will make this blog relevant and interesting to an audience of non-scholars, as well as fellow historians.
In the meantime, thank-you for reading my first blog post. I hope you will return and follow me on my journey “off the beaten path”, as I delve into the fascinating world of medieval religion. I will soon write a post that outlines my project in more detail.
P.S. Thank-you to my fellow M.A. candidate at Brock, Jessica Linzel, for inspiring me to start a blog of my own. I would highly recommend to check out her fascinating MA project entitled, Mapping Early Niagara, an examination of the economic development of the Niagara region in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Her blog can be found at: https://jessicalinzel.com