Official Laurel Website
What are the Laurels looking for in candidates?
by Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope
skill equal to other Laurels can be difficult. Laurels are moving targets. A Laurel who was elevated ten years ago has probably continued
to refine and expand his or her skills well beyond what brought them the
peerage. Laurels also move
on to other arts and sciences, and sometimes achieve renown in a completely
different field from the one for which they were elevated.
the other hand, if your art is something unusual that other members of
the order do not have knowledge of, you cannot be directly compared to
the existing members in terms of your knowledge and skill. As people break ground in new fields, the current Laurels must
educate themselves on those fields in order to understand a candidate’s
work and assess whether the candidate has achieved the appropriate level
of Mastery. Sometimes this
can take a long time; Laurels are people too, who have jobs and families
and lives outside the SCA, so it may be a while before sufficient members
of the order understand a new art well enough to judge a candidate’s readiness.
consideration is how an art and the resources to gain skill in that art
have changed over time. For
example, in A.S. XV, very few illuminators used period pigments. The materials and knowledge required to create and use them
were less accessible than they are now. These days, an illuminator who does not at least dabble with period
pigments is less likely to be considered to have reached mastery of the
art than they were 15 or 20 years ago. Similarly, in A.S. X the height of costuming research was Norris’
“Costume and Fashion.” In
A.S. XL, someone who cites Norris as their primary source will lose points
in arts competitions and their research might be considered poor, because
we have so many better sources available now. In addition, the advent of the World Wide Web has made access to
those sources widely available even to people who live far from universities
and big libraries. We expect
candidates to make use of those resources in their work.
matter how good you are at an art or science, if you work in solitude
and never pass your knowledge and skills along to others, you are not
a peer, you are simply a skilled craftsman.
and Noble behavior are difficult to define, but to paraphrase a mundane
politician, most people “know it when they see it.”
the Laurel considers a candidate’s peer-like qualities, they look for
patterns of behavior over time. Is the candidate honest, kind, generous,
welcoming and considerate of others? A shorthand way of saying this is “Would I send a new person to
this candidate for help?” If
a candidate can be trusted to handle new people, a newspaper reporter
or a TV crew, then they probably have the appropriate peer-like qualities.
understand that everyone has bad days (just like us). If you have a temper tantrum in the middle of one event because
something has gone wrong, it won’t disqualify you from a peerage. If you later go back and apologize for losing your cool, it will
probably even count in your favor -you were adult enough to recognize
your mistake and make amends.
to SCA and Kingdom laws is part of peer-like qualities. Honor, honesty and integrity demand that we work within the
rules, or work within the system to change them, rather than circumvent
or break them.
course we don’t expect everyone to be chess masters or heraldic experts
in order to become peers. However,
we do want generalists who understand the framework in which our game
is played. We are portraying
noblemen and women who, especially in the more enlightened and educated
times of our period, would have had most or all of the skills listed in
Corpora. Henry the VIII played chess, danced and wrote music; Richard
the Lion-Hearted sang and wrote poetry; and in period all nobles knew
enough heraldry to allow them to identify friend and foe. Candidates for the peerage should show that they understand
the SCA and its culture broadly, and are fully integrated into the Society
across a variety of areas.
category answers the question that sometimes pops up when a new Scadian
arrives with spectacular arts skills acquired mundanely. Do you give a Laurel to a marvelous artisan whose ability is superior
to everyone else in the kingdom in that field, when they’ve been in the
SCA for less than a year? No,
because that person needs time to acculturate - to cease being a “mundane
in funny clothes” and become a true member of the Society.
At order meetings and when answering polls, most Laurels will have these categories in mind as a rough “checklist” that each candidate must meet. However, candidates’ achievements in each area do not have to be equal. An outstanding artisan who is too shy to teach classes may be acceptable as long as he or she has reached out to others in the art in some fashion. Someone whose impact on the kingdom has been enormous -holding office, advancing research, mentoring many students - might qualify even though his or her skill as not quite as high as other Laurels in the same field. The question of “how much is enough” in any given category differs from Laurel to Laurel and is the subject of much debate, but we can all agree that we look for people who exemplify the best in the arts, courtesy, service and participation in the Society.
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