Friday, August 10, 2018

Matt Gabriele scores!

I don't know how he managed it, but Matt Gabriele, a medieval historian at Virginia  Tech,is now writing a column for the business publication Forbes.  From my initial perusal, it looks like he interested in emphasizing the diversity of medieval culture.  See, for instance, his post on the Black Death  and the disappearance of the Norse colony in Greenland:

...The disappearance of the settlements might be further proof of just how transformative the Black Death really was for Europe. In a book published after his death in 1991, Prof. David Herlihy suggested in broad outlines the tremendous long-term cultural and intellectual changes brought about by the Black Death. Much of his conclusions have been challenged in recent years but Herlihy's genius was putting his finger on just how the massive scale of death changed the way people thought about themselves and their relationship to the world. Established authorities were questioned since they had no good answers to ending the plague. Social class was upended as economic and cultural communities struggled to replenish their ranks. If the settlement in Greenland left the island uninhabited for a century or more, this would support Herlihy's thesis about long-term change.
In other words, the findings of this research both challenges and confirms what medievalists have thought about their period for some time. In other words, as I've mentioned elsewhere, the research being done on the Middle Ages is exciting precisely because it oftentimes both confirms how much we already know about the period, while paradoxically reminding us of how much about the past there still is to discover.
I'll be curious as to how long this column continues.

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