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Medieval studies

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Medieval studies is the academic interdisciplinary study of the Middle Ages.

Institutional development[edit]

The term 'medieval studies' began to be adopted by academics in the opening decades of the twentieth century, initially in the titles of books like G. G. Coulton's Ten Medieval Studies (1906), to emphasize a greater interdisciplinary approach to a historical subject. In American and European universities the term provided a coherent identity to centres composed of academics from a variety of disciplines including archaeology, art history, architecture, history, literature and linguistics. The Institute of Mediaeval Studies at St. Michael's College of the University of Toronto became the first centre of this type in 1929;[1] it is now the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies (PIMS) and is part of the University of Toronto. It was soon followed by the Medieval Institute at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, which was founded in 1946 but whose roots go back to the establishment of a Program of Medieval Studies in 1933.[2] As with many of the early programs at Roman Catholic institutions, it drew its strengths from the revival of medieval scholastic philosophy by such scholars as Étienne Gilson and Jacques Maritain, both of whom made regular visits to the university in the 1930s and 1940s.

These institutions were preceded in the United Kingdom, in 1927, by the establishment of the idiosyncratic Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, at Cambridge University. Although Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic was limited geographically (to the British Isles and Scandinavia) and chronologically (mostly the early Middle Ages), it promoted the interdisciplinarity characteristic of Medieval Studies and many of its graduates were involved in the later development of Medieval Studies programmes elsewhere in the UK.[3]

With university expansion in the late 1960s and early 1970s encouraging interdisciplinary cooperation, similar centres were established in England at University of Reading (1965), at University of Leeds (1967) and the University of York (1968), and in the United States at Fordham University (1971).[4] A more recent wave of foundations, perhaps helped by the rise of interest in things medieval associated with neo-medievalism, include centres at King's College London (1988),[5] the University of Bristol (1994), the University of Sydney (1997)[6] and Bangor University (2005).[4]

Medieval studies is buoyed by a number of annual international conferences which bring together thousands of professional medievalists, including the International Congress on Medieval Studies, at Kalamazoo MI, U.S., and the International Medieval Congress at the University of Leeds.[7] There are a number of journals devoted to medieval studies, including: Mediaevalia, Comitatus, Viator, Traditio, Medieval Worlds, Journal of Medieval History, Journal of Medieval Military History, and Speculum, an organ of the Medieval Academy of America founded in 1925 and based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.[8] Another part of the infrastructure of the field is the International Medieval Bibliography.[9][10]

Historiographical development[edit]

The term 'Middle Ages' first began to be common in English-language history-writing in the early nineteenth century. Henry Hallam's 1818 View of the State of Europe during the Middle Ages has been seen as a key stage in the promotion of the term, along with Ruskin's 1853 Lectures on Architecture.[11][12] The term medievalist was, correspondingly, coined by English-speakers in the mid-nineteenth century.[13]

European study of the medieval past was characterised in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by romantic nationalism, as emergent nation-states sought to legitimise new political formations by claiming that they were rooted in the distant past.[14] The most important example of this use of the Middle Ages was the nation-building that surrounded the unification of Germany.[15][16][17] Narratives which presented European countries as becoming modern by building on, yet also developing beyond, their medieval heritage, were also important in legimitating European colonialism elsewhere in the world, by suggesting that colonised regions had not developed in this way. The most prominent example of this aspect of medieval studies is imperial Britain and its former colonies in the Americas. Both nationalist and colonialist entanglements meant that the study of the Middle Ages in this period had a role in the emergence of white supremacism.[18][19]

However, the early twentieth century also saw new approaches associated with the rise of social sciences such as economic history and anthropology, epitomised by the influential Annales School. In place of what the Annalistes called histoire événementielle, this work favoured study of large questions over long periods.[20]

In the wake of the Second World War, the complicity of medievalism in Europe's competitive nationalism led to greatly diminished enthusiasm for medieval studies within the academy—though nationalist deployments of the Middle Ages still existed and remained powerful.[21] The proportion of medievalists in history and language departments fell,[22] encouraging staff to collaborate across different departments; state funding of and university support for archaeology expanded, bringing new evidence but also new methods, disciplinary perspectives, and research questions forward; and the appeal of interdisciplinarity grew. Accordingly, medieval studies turned increasingly away from producing national histories, towards more complex mosaics of regional approaches that worked towards a European scope, partly correlating with post-War Europeanisation.[21] An example from the apogee of this process was the large European Science Foundation project The Transformation of the Roman World that ran from 1993-98.[23][24]

Amidst this process, from the 1980s onwards Medieval Studies increasingly responded to intellectual agendas set by critical theory and cultural studies, with empiricism and philology being challenged by or harnessed to topics like the history of the body.[25][20]

In the twenty-first century, globalisation led to arguments that post-war Europeanisation had drawn too tight a boundary around Medieval Studies, this time at the borders of Europe,[26] with Muslim Iberia[27][28] and the Orthodox Christian east[29] seen in western European historiography as having an ambivalent relevance to Medieval Studies. Thus a range of medievalists have begun working on writing global histories of the Middle Ages — while, however, navigating, the risk of imposing Eurocentric terminologies and agendas on the rest of the world.[29][30][31][32][33]

Centres for Medieval studies[edit]

Many Centres / Centers for Medieval Studies exist, usually as part of a university or other research and teaching facility. Some notable ones include:

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ H. Damico, J. B. Zavadil, D. Fennema, and K. Lenz, Medieval Scholarship: Philosophy and the arts: biographical studies on the formation of a discipline (Taylor & Francis, 1995), p. 80.
  2. ^ MI History, University of Notre Dame
  3. ^ Michael Lapidge, 'Introduction: The Study of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic in Cambridge, 1878-1999', in H. M. Chadwick and the Study of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic in Cambridge, ed. by Michael Lapidge (Aberystwyth: Department of Welsh, Aberystwyth University, 2015), ISBN 9780955718298, pp. 1-58 [=Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies, 69/70 (2015)].
  4. ^ a b G. McMullan and D. Matthews, Reading the medieval in early modern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), p. 231.
  5. ^ "King's College London - About us". www.kcl.ac.uk. Retrieved 2016-10-05.
  6. ^ D. Metzger and L. J. Workman, Medievalism and the academy II: cultural studies (Boydell & Brewer, 2000), p. 18.
  7. ^ W. D. Padenm The Future of the Middle Ages: medieval literature in the 1990s (University Press of Florida, 1994), p. 23.
  8. ^ A. Molho, and G. S. Wood, Imagined histories: American historians interpret the past (Princeton University Press, 1998), p. 238.
  9. ^ Sawyer, Peter (2009). "The Origins of the International Medieval Bibliography: Its Unwritten History (as told by its Founder)". Bulletin of International Medieval Research. 14 for 2008: 57–61.
  10. ^ Macartney, Hilary (2007). "La International Medieval Bibliography como herramienta de investigación para la historiografía de ciudades medievales y sus territorios". La Ciudad medieval y su influencia territorial: Nájera. Encuentros Internacionales del Medievo 3, 2006: 439–450.
  11. ^ Robert I. Moore, 'A Global Middle Ages?', in The Prospect of Global History, ed. by James Belich, John Darwin, Margret Frenz, and Chris Wickham (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), pp. 80-92 (pp. 82-83).
  12. ^ "medieval, adj. and n.", "middle age, n. and adj." Accessed 5 August 2018. OED Online, Oxford University Press, June 2018, www.oed.com/view/Entry/115638; www.oed.com/view/Entry/118142. Accessed 5 August 2018.
  13. ^ "medievalist, n." OED Online, Oxford University Press, June 2018, www.oed.com/view/Entry/115640. Accessed 5 August 2018.
  14. ^ Ian Wood, 'Literary Composition and the Early Medieval Historian in the Nineteenth Century', in The Making of Medieval History, ed. by Graham Loud and Martial Staub (York: York Medieval Press, 2017), ISBN 9781903153703, pp. 37-53.
  15. ^ Bastian Schlüter, 'Barbarossa's Heirs: nation and Medieval History in Nineteenth-cand Twentieth-Century Germany', in The Making of Medieval History, ed. by Graham Loud and Martial Staub (York: York Medieval Press, 2017), ISBN 9781903153703, pp. 87-100.
  16. ^ Bernhard Jussen, 'Between Ideology and Technology: Depicting Charlemagne in Modern Times', in The Making of Medieval History, ed. by Graham Loud and Martial Staub (York: York Medieval Press, 2017), ISBN 9781903153703, pp. 127-52.
  17. ^ Christian Lübke, 'Germany's Growth to the East: From the Polabian Marches to Germania Slavica', in The Making of Medieval History, ed. by Graham Loud and Martial Staub (York: York Medieval Press, 2017), ISBN 9781903153703, pp. 167-83.
  18. ^ Allen J. Frantzen, Desire for Origins: New Language, Old English, and Teaching the Tradition (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1990).
  19. ^ John M. Ganim, Medievalism and Orientalism: Three Essays on Literature, Architecture and Cultural Identity (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005).
  20. ^ a b Graham A. Loud and Martial Staub, 'Some Thoughts on the Making of the Middle Ages', in The Making of Medieval History, ed. by Graham Loud and Martial Staub (York: York Medieval Press, 2017), ISBN 9781903153703, pp. 1-13.
  21. ^ a b Patrick Geary, 'European Ethnicities and European as an Ethnicity: Does Europe Have too Much History?', in The Making of Medieval History, ed. by Graham Loud and Martial Staub (York: York Medieval Press, 2017), ISBN 9781903153703, pp. 57-69.
  22. ^ Robert I. Moore, 'A Global Middle Ages?', in The Prospect of Global History, ed. by James Belich, John Darwin, Margret Frenz, and Chris Wickham (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), pp. 80-92 (pp. 83-84).
  23. ^ Ian Wood, 'Report: The European Science Foundation's Programme on the Transformation of the Roman World and the Emergence of Early Medieval Europe', Early Medieval Europe, 6 (1997), 217-28.
  24. ^ Jinty Nelson, 'Why Reinventing Medieval History is a Good Idea', in The Making of Medieval History, ed. by Graham Loud and Martial Staub (York: York Medieval Press, 2017), ISBN 9781903153703, pp. 17-36.
  25. ^ Caroline Bynum, “Why All the Fuss about the Body? A Medievalist's Perspective”, Critical Inquiry 22/1, 1995, pp. 1-33.
  26. ^ Little, Lester K., 'Cypress Beams, Kufic Script, and Cut Stone: Rebuilding the Master Narrative of European History', Speculum, 79 (2004), 909-28.
  27. ^ Richard Hitchcock, 'Reflections on the Frontier in Early Medieval Iberia', in The Making of Medieval History, ed. by Graham Loud and Martial Staub (York: York Medieval Press, 2017), ISBN 9781903153703, pp. 155-66
  28. ^ Hisham Aidi, 'The Interference of al-Andalus: Spain, Islam, and the West', Social Text, 24 (2006), 67-88; doi:10.1215/01642472-24-2_87-67.
  29. ^ a b Michael Borgolte, 'A Crisis of the Middle Ages? Deconstructing and Constructing European Identities in a Globalized World', in The Making of Medieval History, ed. by Graham Loud and Martial Staub (York: York Medieval Press, 2017), ISBN 9781903153703, pp. 70-84.
  30. ^ James Belich, John Darwin, and Chris Wickham, 'Introduction: The Prospect of Global History', in The Prospect of Global History, ed. by James Belich, John Darwin, Margret Frenz, and Chris Wickham (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198732259.001.0001, pp. 3--22.
  31. ^ Moore, Robert I., 'A Global Middle Ages?', in The Prospect of Global History, ed. by James Belich, John Darwin, Margret Frenz, and Chris Wickham (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), pp. 80-92.
  32. ^ Robinson, Francis, 'Global History from an Islamic Angle', in The Prospect of Global History, ed. by James Belich, John Darwin, Margret Frenz, and Chris Wickham (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), pp. 127--45.
  33. ^ ''The Global Middle Ages'', ed. by Catherine Holmes and Naomi Standen, Past & Present Supplement, 13 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018) (=''Past & Present'', 238 (November 2018)), https://academic.oup.com/past/issue/238/suppl_13.

External links[edit]

Library guides to Medieval studies