Reviews Arnold, John H., What is Medieval History? Cambridge, Polity Press, 2008; paperback; pp. ix, 155; 4 b/w illustrations; R.R.P. US$19.95; ISBN 9780745639338. In an unassuming form, John Arnold has produced an engaging and insightful manifesto for medieval studies, and it makes unexpectedly gripping reading. Like an airport thriller, the action begins in line one with the interrogation of Bartolomeo, a priest, his torture and the revelation of a magical plot to assassinate the pope. But this is not Dan Brown, and even as he tells the tale, Arnold is already picking it apart, showing how the fabric of the historical record can seem to uphold the popular image of `the medieval' while simultaneously challenging both it, and its implicit separation from `the modern'. Indeed, the problem of what exactly `medieval' means how it developed as a concept, how this continues to affect the way we think about it, and the problems this presents is one of his consistent themes. Although there is medieval history in this book, it is principally about doing medieval history. Inherited frameworks for understanding and undertaking medieval history are the focus of the first chapter. Arnold's historiographical observations are brief, but
Parergon – Australian & New Zealand Association of Medieval & Early Modern Studies, Inc. (ANAZAMEMS, Inc.)
Published: Jul 14, 2010
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