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Why are we medievalists?

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Why are we medievalists?

Post by niles on Thu Jun 04, 2009 9:29 pm

I've often asked myself that question.
I am truly fascinated by all things medieval, and have been so ever since I was a child and read stories of jousting knights. My interest is more serious now, and I no longer want to pick up a lance and run at anyone who annoys me (although sometimes I still think it). I can't see myself studing any other subject area, even though initially I thought of going into history rather than literature, and being more of an anthropologist/historian. But literature is where it's at, I think.

I'm curious to know what inspired others to follow this difficult and often typecast subject area. For me it was Malory, but what was it for you?

By the way, this is my first ever forum, so I hope I don't annoy anyone with my simplistic question (if I do, feel free to challenge me to a joust).

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Re: Why are we medievalists?

Post by bewitched on Mon Jun 08, 2009 10:55 am

For me, it was the amazing women like Hrotsvit of Gandersheim, Hildegard of Bingen, Marie de France, Mechthild of Madgeburg, Christine de Pizan , etc. I was inspired by the fact that they are critically acclaimed because of their own literary merits and not because they were simply the wives or lovers of historically significant men. After my B.A., I began reading everything I could by them and soon became so fascinated by the early and high Middle Ages that I felt compelled to go to graduate school a few years later. Smile Oddly enough, my dissertation does not focus on the works of any of the aforementioned writers but these women were and in many ways still are my inspiration for being a medievalist.

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Re: Why are we medievalists?

Post by BritHistNCSU on Sun Jul 05, 2009 3:50 pm

I became fascinated by Britain first. The entirety of England's history enchanted me at a very early age, but as I continued my recreational reading and even changed careers in order to become a historian, I realised that it was specifically the medieval period in British history which interested me most.
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Re: Why are we medievalists?

Post by medieval on Mon May 03, 2010 11:01 am

I was a medievalist before I ever even knew there was such a thing, or that you could actually do it for a living! tongue There has never been a time in my life when I wasn't thoroughly obsessed with the whole field, in all its myriad guises, forms, and so forth. As a young child, it was knights and princesses and castles with dungeons, and of course dragons, faeries, elves, unicorns, and so forth. I was utterly obsessed with King Arthur, Robin Hood, and the Black Cauldron series, and especially with "handwritten books" (manuscripts), since I made them myself. As I have gotten older, I have come to understand that this never went away and never will - but of course, as a scholar it is much more academic in nature than it once was! Still, there has never been a time when I didn't want to know more. I was researching before I knew what that meant, trying to find out everything I could about dragons, about knights, about unicorns. My first-ever authorial attempt was fifty handwritten pages, with drawings and cut-out pictures, rendered in blue pen and called The Great Big Book of Unicorns. Everyone who ever knew me knew that was just who I was. I was mocked a lot as a child and teenager for these tendencies, which led to a self-imposed moratorium on medieval subjects for a long time - I regret that I wasted even a moment worrying about what anyone else thought, but then again, it clarified for me how important and essential being a medievalist is to my well-being.

As an adult, I am of course more academic and scholarly towards the subject matter - but I confess to still feeling very much like a child at play when I am working with medieval materials and subjects. I feel like I'm getting away with something, that someone is going to find out my Big Secret - that I'm having too much fun for this to be work - and will fire me and stop paying me! lol I feel like the most fortunate person in the world, that I get paid to read books and talk about them. (Especially the ones with dragons in 'em!) geek

I don't know - there was never a "Big Moment" - I just always WAS a medievalist. I spent a lot of my young adult years trying to do something else, because I had been convinced by the adults in my life that being a dragonologist, or an Arthurianist, or any other medievalist "ist" was not a proper job - but after years of feeling frustrated and lost and angry and completely let-down, I finally gave in to the reality - which is that I'm supposed to do this. It doesn't matter what I'm doing - if I'm working, it's in medieval subjects. If I'm playing, it's in medieval subjects. It's all-encompassing for me, just a central part of my life, and honestly, I'm much happier after having given way to my personal wyrd.

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