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Dobbs and Abortion in the European Middle Ages

A New Yorker article on abortion in the U.S. written prior to the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision but anticipating its overthrow of Roe vs. Wade, quotes a gynecologist named Franz Theard as saying “I cannot believe that people who were born after ’73 are going back to the Middle Ages” (June 20, 2022, p. 21). Even before I read that, I had expected someone, somewhere, to make a medievalizing reference to describe a post-Roe America, given how often the European Middle Ages are used today to represent the “bad old days.”  What surprised me was the actual medieval reference in Justice Alito’s opinion in Dobbs. In claiming that English common law treated abortion after “quickening” as a crime, he quotes “Henry de Bracton’s 13th-century treatise” as stating that if someone has “struck a pregnant woman, or given her poison, whereby he has caused abortion, if the foetus be formed and animated, and particularly if it be animated, he commits homicide” (p. 17). This reference to the Middle Ages
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The Virgin at Chartres, White Supremacy, and Medieval Studies

Medieval Studies blew up online this past weekend when a Rachel Fulton Brown, an Associate Professor in the History Department at the University of Chicago (my graduate institution, although I did not study with her), published a few pieces on her blog aimed at Dorothy Kim (an Assistant Professor at Vassar College, who I know from the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship) for her insistence that medieval studies as a field needs to grapple with the way its materials have been and are currently being used by white supremacists to support their ideology and that those of us who teach medieval materials need to signal our rejection of white supremacist beliefs to our students. While the first post begins (and the second continues) an attack on Kim, the bulk of it is given over to an argument about the Virgin Mary that is framed around a famous window from Chartres Cathedral, known as Notre Dame de la Belle Verriere (our lady of the beautiful window).  According to Fulton Brown, th

Make + Risk = Craftivism: A Roundtable and Yarnbomb Project for Babel 2017

For the 2017 Babel Working Group Meeting in Reno , I'm organizing a project for The Material Collective.  The full proposal appears below.  Get in touch if you are interested in participating! Make + Risk = Craftivism: A Roundtable and Yarnbomb Project A dominant symbol of the January 2017 Women’s March on Washington was the pink pussyhat: a knit or crochet hat constructed in such a way that cat ears appear on the wearer’s head.   Large numbers of women participated in making pussyhats and wore them at marches in Washington and other cities.   Yet the hats were also a focus for critique, as the product of a white middle-class feminism that often fails to take into account the experiences of other women, and as excluding transwomen in particular through their reference to biological sex.   In many ways, this combination of responses to the pussyhats mirrors the responses to the March itself.   It also demonstrates both the productive potential and the po

Eating Medieval Art: Buran (Meatballs in Eggplant Sauce)

Since election day, writing about medieval food and cooking has seemed a little silly to me.  I've wanted to privately take refuge in the Middle Ages, reading books and writing my lectures about medieval art, but putting medieval stuff out over the interwebs has seemed to be beside the point. But.  Then I got thinking about this recipe, which I made the week before the election, and is a medieval Middle Eastern dish.  According to Pleyn Delit , Middle Eastern or "Saracen" food was the trendy new cuisine in western Europe in the Middle Ages.  That fits a pattern I often talking about in teaching medieval and Islamic material: the medieval perception of the east and specifically of the Islamic world as a source of good things that people wanted for themselves.  In the current political climate, it also strikes a useful contrast against perceptions of the Middle Ages that have begun to concern the broad community of medievalist scholars: specifically the idea that the

Eating Medieval Art: "Tartys in Applis"

In talking about my food preferences and how they are shaping this project, I neglected to mention one thing: I have a major sweet tooth.  I love chocolate, but it's off the table for this project since it's a New World product.  I'm also a big fan of baked fruit desserts and so, when I saw a recipe for an apple tart in Plyen Delit , I knew I would have to give it a try. The original recipe reads: "Tak gode applys & gode spycis & figs & reysons & perys, & wan they arn wel ybrayd colour wyth safroun wel & do yt in a cofyn, & do yt forth to bake wel."  I substituted prunes for figs, because I had some in my cupboard, and I didn't use any pears, because I didn't want to wait for them to get ripe.  For apples, I used Granny Smiths, as my favorite for baking in general.  The most unusual part of the recipe was the direction that the fruits be "wel ybrayd:" the authors of Plyen Delit translate that as chopping them u

Eating Medieval Art: Gourdes in Potage

I picked this for my second recipe from Pleyn Delit because it looked fairly simple and looked like it would reheat well - that's one of my major criteria for normal recipes since I don't have time to cook every night.  I was also curious about it because I couldn't imagine what texture it was going to have.  Pleyn Delit doesn't include any photographs of the prepared food so it's hard to imagine in advance was the finished dishes are going to look like.  The original is given as "Take yong gowrdes; par hem and kerve hem on pecys.  Cast hem in gode broth, and do therto a gode pertye of oynouns mynced.  Take pork soden; grynde it and alye it therwith and with yokes of ayren.  Do therto safroun and salt, and messe it forth with powdor douce."  "Gourds" here means squash and I chose to use butternut, since its a squash I'm used to working with.  The squash is boiled in broth along with some onions and then that is mashed together: I used

Eating Medieval Art: Chykens in Hocchee and Cariota

  I'm starting this project by focusing on the cooking aspect and, for now, I'm not worrying about connecting the cooking to medieval art-making practices, but am focusing on getting familiar with medieval techniques and tastes.   Focusing on the cooking allows me to integrate this work into my everyday life, by simply making one of the meals I prepare each week a medieval recipe.  This should allow me to make progress on this new project even while I keep up on my work as department chair, teach, and put finishing touches on the book. Since I am integrating this aspect of the work into my regular cooking, it is being shaped by my preferences and practices when it comes to food.  To set some of that out: I do eat meat and I eat a broad range of meats - chicken and beef but also pork, lamb, veal, duck, and occasionally rabbit.  Sorry if that bothers anyone.  I don't eat much fish, but I do like shellfish.  I try to avoid carbohydrates, only because if I don't tr