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Thinking Medieval: An Introduction to the…

Thinking Medieval: An Introduction to the Study of the Middle Ages (2005)

by Marcus Bull

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This is a brief, highly readable book: at once an argument for the relevance of the field of medieval history, and for why the whole concept of the Middle Ages needs to be abandoned. Bull manages to be thought-provoking without being polemical, and while I don't agree with everything he says, it was a good exercise for me to parse out why I didn't agree with him. So for instance, I think his rightful disdain for what he terms 'wormhole history'—saying that A caused B when that only works by collapsing the geographical/chronological/cultural, etc, differences between the two points—obscures somewhat the utility of comparative histories. I also thought his sneering at the point of modern apologies for long-ago events was somewhat misguided—why should John Paul II apologise for the sack of Constantinople in 1204, Bull asks, when the French government hasn't apologised for the French monarchy's conquest of Normandy from the English in the same year? That to me seems like a disingenuous disregard of context, and also a failure to consider how institutional power and privilege work and are reinforced over time. Bull speaks approvingly of the movement by medievalists away from the Great Man view of European history, but I'm not sure how thoroughly he's internalised it. That said—and maybe even in part because of those quibbles—I think this would be a great book to assign to an upper level undergrad or Master's class. It would be sure to provide great fodder for discussion. ( )
  siriaeve | Oct 21, 2013 |
Raises far more questions than answers, as it should. Very good food for thought for anyone studying the Middle Ages, and good perspective on the relationship between the Middle Ages and today.D116 .B95 2005 ( )
  Gwendydd | Feb 6, 2008 |
Full review: ( http://bachlab.balbach.net/coolread4.html#thinkingmedieval ) in summary: fascinating and pithy overview of modern medieval scholarship for the beginner. ( )
  Stbalbach | Oct 9, 2007 |
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