Saturday, 27 July 2013

Stranger Than Fiction: Columbus and the Globe + Medievalizing the Modern World

I saw this video on  The site reports on academic papers, videos, conferences etc.

Both talks, part of a conference at the British Academy, touch on how the 19th century's views of the Middle Ages have warped our own education and thought processes.

Terry Jones (of Monty Python fame and author of Chaucer's Knight: The Portrait of the Medieval Mercenary) talks about how the people of the past did not believe the world was flat, and Christopher Columbus was not trying to prove that point when he 'discovered' America.  He also describes more of what Columbus was actually like.

The second talk (starting around the 30 minute mark) is by Patrick Geary, a professor of history at the Institute of Advanced Study in Princeton and author of The Myth of Nations.  He talks on how modern nations look to a single point in their medieval past in order to create a unified nation in the present, without considering the changes that took place before and after that moment.

Please be aware that there is a minor amount of disturbing imagery in the talks with regards to slavery and war.

The last 20 or so minutes are a Q and A with the audience.  I particularly liked the question that comes at 1:07:41 on how people in the Middle Ages saw themselves with regards to their pieces of land and their political status (vs our own view of nationality).  Geary's answer is fantastic.

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