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Living with Neomedievalism

from I - Defining Medievalism(s) II: Some More Perspective(s)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 September 2012

Carol L. Robinson
Affiliation:
Kent State University Trumbull
Pamela Clements
Affiliation:
Siena College in Albany, New York
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Summary

Two great principles divide the world, and contend for the mastery, antiquity and the middle ages. These are the two civilizations that have preceded us, the two elements of which ours is composed. All political as well as religious questions reduce themselves practically to this. This is the great dualism that runs through our society. (Lord Acton)

“You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.”

(Morpheus in The Matrix)

The epigraph by Lord Acton, to be found in nearly every edition of Studies in Medievalism, points to a great dualism of political and religious proportions between “antiquity and the middle ages” that still today “runs through our society”; however, the fact that this quote is from a work written in the mid-nineteenth century underscores the transition from a dualism to a multiplicity of thought in increasingly globalized philosophies that have been developing since not long before Leslie J. Workman's founding of medievalism studies. Indeed, in “Medievalisms and Why They Matter,” Tom Shippey points to the enormity, all-encompassing and thus apparent vagueness of the field of medievalism, observing that:

[…] already the subject goes beyond any one person's competence even to survey. “Medievalism” is a very broad field, much less capable of definition than, for instance, “modernism.” One is tempted to say that a better term would be “medievalisms [plural],” and that a natural academic approach is to single out just one of them. But at the same time one has to remember that though its many manifestations may develop separately, they are all capable at any point of interacting, and have always done so.

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Studies in Medievalism XVIII
Defining Medievalism(s) II
, pp. 55 - 75
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2009

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