Friday, April 1, 2011

Hug a medievalist day, with thanks

This from the New Yorker.

by Macy Halford

Today is International Hug a Medievalist Day. Do I really want to hug a medievalist?, you wonder. Yes! you do. Medievalists are the best kind of historian, in my opinion (which is why I majored in medieval history in college): they are always very interested in the body, the bawdy, and the beautiful, by which I mean they have a profound interest in the nitty-gritty of Western culture—in its material composition and the spiritual and intellectual urges that give rise to it. Perhaps because they delight in details and see worlds within them, medievalists are uniformly possessed of an excellent if slightly juvenile sense of humor, which becomes more pronounced when they drink and their inherent social awkwardness wears off. They drink most nights, usually at dimly lit pubs or sitting in tight clusters on the floors of grad-student apartments, and they prefer to drink red wine or ale. The caveat to this is that at least once a year, in every medievalist cluster, someone has the idea of hosting a medieval-themed party, at which they serve a) mulled wine b) mincemeat pies and c) some multi-animal mishmash like turducken. If you are very unfortunate, someone will attempt rabbit stew with cinnamon and mace, which no one will eat. But such comical failures are part and parcel of the medievalist lifestyle.

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(I have never had the idea of hosting a medieval themed party, though I did once participate in an all night reading of Beowulf which was lubricated by some devastating ale brewed, we were told, to an Old Icelandic recipe.

So here's thanks to all the saints and scholars, the gentle lunatics and social misfits, the straight geniuses, the professional teachers and the ones who didn't mean to but did, to all those who preserved the field, the antiquarians, archivists, librarians, the amateurs when there was no profession, who have , one way or another, helped and hindered along the way.
Many thanks.

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