hlo, I like your post 122117875674 and I wondered if you had a list of similar posts and/or a book debunking misconceptions of medieval history that I could read? I am making my way through your "medieval history" tag and enjoying it immensely, but I thought I'd ask in case you had favorites you wanted to point to
Ahahaha, this ask is actually super well timed because I just finished four days at the IMC (International Medieval Congress) running around to sessions and taking gigatons of notes, so I have a shit ton of new stuff to discuss. This year’s theme was “The Other,” so there was an especially strong representation of papers on medieval women, medieval queer history, and other such things.
I am still hearteyes af over the fact that I got to hear Ruth Mazo Karras (an academic heroine of mine, and whose books I have extensively recommended for people curious about the medieval history of sexuality) give a paper, and I also bought her book, Sexuality in Medieval Europe (I should have got her to sign it for me, heh). She is definitely still the starting point for reading on gender, sexuality, marriage, mlm, and other questions in a medieval context,(and apparently she is accepting a position at Trinity College in Dublin next year, so I will not-so-lowkey hope she needs a postdoc research fellow, because PICK MEEEE). But Dr. Rachel E. Moss at Oxford University is also working on questions of medieval homosociality (and medieval rape culture, which I found really fascinating) and gender/cultural/sexual social and family history of the medieval era, and she also has a blog.
Amy Ogden at the University of Virginia works on medieval gender representations in studies of saints (including arguably trans/female to male individuals who became monks and how they are treated in clerical writing – in short, these authors struggle to overcome gendered/binary essentialism, but there is also a recognized genre of texts around women becoming/posing as men in order to become closer to God, and this is a cause of concern but also admiration. In other words, arguably transgender medieval figures are not represented universally negatively, but as an aspiration and even an idealisation of holiness). Martha Newman at the University of Texas is also working on similar questions and the case of Joseph of Schanau, a 12th-century Cistercian monk who, after his death, was discovered to be biologically a woman. Prof. Newman has identified some similar themes in Joseph’s treatment by the clerical writer Engelhard of Langheim, and she has a book coming out next year on it. Furthermore, Blake Gutt at Cambridge is studying a medieval French vernacular romance, Le roman de Saint Fanuel, that seems to depict a female-to-male protagonist and saint, who becomes pregnant and gives birth to St. Anne, the mother of Mary (thus, as he put it, “grafting a transgender branch onto the Holy Family”) and does other really interesting work on the reading of medieval texts through transgendered and genderqueer lenses.
Natasha Hodgson, whose work I have also recommended before (and who I also got to see give a paper… this was basically nerd utopia, okay) works on gender and the crusades, including representation of crusading masculinities and women and the crusades. (She is also a person who I am just gonna sit over here and hope needs a postdoc researcher.) Charlotte Pickard works on power and patronage among medieval noblewomen in northern France (another research area/interest of mine), and Harriet Kersey works on the legal and landowning status of women (particularly heiresses) in England.
There was also another session on women and literacy in the Middle Ages, mostly focusing on letters received by medieval queens, and Danielle Park works specifically on crusaders’ wives and gave a paper on the correspondence between Bernard of Clairvaux and Queen Melisende of Jerusalem (for multiple generations in the 12th century, the inheritance/rule of the crusader kingdom in Jerusalem, in fact, passed through/was centered in women. Also, Bernard is probably the actual patron saint of mansplaining, but never mind.)
Anyway, not all of these researchers have published books (although many do), but it will at least point you in the direction of the work they’re doing, and the kind of questions that are being asked in the academic study of medieval history these days. (There were also a ton more amazing panels on otherness as constructed through race, religion, and so forth, that I could not get to because there are literally about 350 sessions at this thing over 4 days). There were also papers given on the shared chivalric culture between Christians and Muslims, the medieval literary genre of “Saracen romances,” and the other ways in which the West has interpreted that encounter and experience. And I can say with 100% more confidence after this conference, which I would have said with 100% confidence beforehand anyway, that anyone who wants to tell you The Medieval View on anything is a) wrong, and b) Wrong. The “medieval view” is ridiculously diverse; the era spans 1000 years (500-1500 is the generally agreed time period) over a vast geographic span and countless cultures and societies, and constitutes, in many cases, a far more nuanced, colorful, and challenging portrait of a flourishing intellectual life and dealing with topics than the “It Was Just The Way Things Were in the Dark Ages” crowd that I hate (uh, strongly dislike) so much would ever have you believe.
So anyway. Happy digging.