ANOTHER INTERVIEW! Today we are bringing forward for you the most amazing pair of the medievalverse in the net! You all know them! HERE WE HAVE THE TEAM OF MEDIEVALISTS.NET!
Please say hi to Peter and Sandra, who are a wonderful source of inspiration and have always been really supportive and nice to W.U Hstry!Here are some of the questions we asked them and what they replied!
WE HOPE YOU ENJOY IT!
Could you explain to us how did the medievalists.net initiative originated and how it was developed since. What were your aims/goals? have they change? what do you expect the project to evolve into?
Peter: The idea behind Medievalists.net originated out a another academic site called De Re Militari. This site had articles and primary sources about medieval warfare. I thought it would be a good idea to create a website that covered all topics related to the Middle Ages. At the time, no active website existed that offered a one-stop place for medievalists to gather.
Sandra: Peter approached me in the summer of 2008 and asked if I would be interested in working on a website for all things medieval. We both worked dreary day jobs and jumped at the chance to do something we loved in our spare time. In September 2008, Medievalists.net was born.
Peter: The aim originally was to have some part time side work, to be able to go to conferences and remain active in the academic community. Since then, the site exploded in popularity and we are trying to make this our full time career. We’ve added four more history sites: Historyoftheancientworld.com, Earlymodernengland.com, Americancivilwar.ca, Thewarof1812.net.
Sandra: I don’t think we initially expected it to take off the way it did. We continue to be blown away by the support we have from our readers across the globe. We’re honoured to have such wonderful fans.
What is the medieval/historical interest of each of you? (specialism if you prefer) or favourite topic/landmark?
Peter: I’m interested in medieval military history, the Crusades, London and daily life.
Sandra: My interests lie in Medieval England and religious orders. I am also interested in daily life and Queer studies of the Middle Ages.
Peter: Our site is geared to both academic audiences and general interest.
Sandra: We have a wide range of people who visit the site – it’s not just academics and serious scholars. We have many younger students, re-enactors, movie and television show fans who follow us because we also review medieval pop culture in television, movies and books.
How big, creative and up to date is the medieval sphere in the North America?
Peter: The Middle Ages remains very popular in North America – it seems people can’t get enough of history. We see a lot of television shows and movies set in the medieval period, and one can find a medieval/Renaissance fair taking place somewhere in the US or Canada every week. In university classrooms, the Middle Ages are very popular for undergraduates, and the annual International Congress on Medieval Studies draws over 3000 academics to Kalamazoo, Michigan.
How important do you think historical fiction books or films are to the study (and interest) of medieval history?
Sandra: I think movies, books and TV shows are vital in engaging new audiences with history in this day and age. People come into interests via different paths and for me, I came through reading Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy; for Peter, he became interested in the Middle Ages after playing a video game called The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Every person gets introduced to something differently and movies, TV and books often bring that age or history period to life. Even the most serious scholars started somewhere, be it Tolkien, Dungeons and Dragons, Assassins Creed, A Game of Thrones or World of Warcraft. The method might not be historically accurate but it opens the door to future study.
Why do you think it’s still important we:
a) still learn about the medieval period?
b) still carry on actively researching this period? What does it contribute to today’s society?
Peter: I once recall someone saying the studying the Middle Ages was the closest we could get to studying an alien civilization without leaving the Earth. I think it offers a valuable insight into how other people can have a totally different perception of the world and how you can have different ways of thinking.
Sandra: I think that we learn from our past achievements and mistakes – history is never irrelevant. We got here somehow, so to say that it’s unimportant, is like saying *to me* Rome was built in one day; it wasn’t, and our civilization wasn’t. All our enlightened ideas and progress began with people who had different ideas, laws and ways of doing things, In order to better understand ourselves and society, I think it is vital to learn about our past.
We have noticed that the term ‘Medieval’ seems to be taking on negative and almost derogatory connotations to describe what is regarded as ‘backwards’ or ‘barbaric’ and ‘uncivilized’. What do you think about that?
Sandra: I still say “that’s so medieval” at times in a derogatory way. I don’t take it too seriously or get bent out of shape about it. The Middle Ages to many people wasn’t exactly the most forward thinking time in comparison to what we perceive as being “the norm” now so I understand why people still bandy that about.
Peter: I often see the term ‘medieval’ used in the media to describe things that were horrific and overly cruel. This is often just based on stereotypes. We try to think of ourselves as a modern culture that has ‘evolved’ from our ancestors in the last few hundred years and that we tend to do things more intelligently, more humanely and more logically. Yet our so-called modern age has produced genocides and levels of warfare and violence that were no near to what the medieval person experienced. I think, however, that people will always be referring to the Middle Ages as a backward period in time.
The middle ages as a period is defined by what it’s not, in other words by not being modernity nor antiquity. How do you think this affects the interest in the Middle Ages, and the fascination scholars and the public have for it?
Sandra: I think the sheer span of the period, approximately, 1,000 years, makes it hard not to take notice. Within that range, Europe, society, laws and attitudes evolved and changed immensely. This fascinates many people. You can study the Middle Ages and straddle Antiquity, with the Fall of the Roman Empire in the fifth century, or you can study Henry VIII and cross over into the Reformation of the sixteenth century. It’s a blurred line and everything in-between contains many avenues of research. For example, in warfare you can study Vikings or you can study knights and these two fields are hundreds of years apart yet considered part the same period. I think that intrigues many people.
Peter: Its part of thinking the Middle Ages as the ‘other’ – and it is always attractive and interesting to see how the ‘other’ lived. You become fascinated by a period that is in reality, quite diverse in terms of culture and society. It gives a person a lot to look for.
How does medievalism affect or influence your work?
Peter: When coming up with ideas for Medievalists.net, I am always looking to see what is popular in medievalism – movies, tv, living history and fiction. I can then turn those interests into writing some good history.
Sandra: I think it will always impact our work and how we evolve. Right now, the Middles Ages has seen a resurgence in popular culture through shows like World Without End and the medieval fantasy, A Game of Thrones. Certain movies and books can cause a surge in popularity for a particular period during the Middle Ages or for a particular nation, i.e., Braveheart caused a spike in interest for medieval Scottish history when it came out in 1995. As historians and journalists, it’s our job to take note of these trends and report on them to help keep interest in the Middle Ages alive and well.
In your opinion what is the future of medieval history?
Peter: I think scholars are really benefitting from how digitization is opening up archives, and how we are able to make use of scientific testing on medieval remains. Historians are able to access a lot more resources, and hopefully be able to discover new insights into the medieval world.
Sandra: The medieval world, or as we jokingly refer to it, “the Medievalverse”, has gone digital! Social media has made reaching people and sharing the Middle Ages with them that much easier. Look at the recent find of Richard III, that receive a staggering amount of media attention and a tonne of traffic on Twitter and Facebook. New social media apps and sites are cropping up constantly so the platform is ever changing and medieval studies is changing along with it.
And out final question, that we ask in every single interview, and therefore this is no exception: If you have a time machine, what would you do with it? what period will you visit? Considering that you cannot interact with the environment, only watch.
Peter: I would greatly enjoy walking around the streets of medieval London, observing how the people lived, worked and played in such a bustling city.
Sandra: I have three periods I’m torn between. I’d love to have visited medieval London yet I’d also have loved to visit Victorian London to compare the two. I love medieval history and Victorian literature so sitting down with Dickens and chatting with Thomas Becket would be equally cool Lastly, I would’ve loved to go back in time and visit the US during the American Civil War and meet great Generals like Ulysses Grant, Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and George B. McClellan.
Anddd… unfortunately that’s the end of that folks! Exciting stuff I know!
However, remember that you can always find more and more about them and the medievalverse in http://www.medievalists.net !! Also, Look for them on Facebook and Twitter! Lots of news going up everyday!
Thanks a lot to Peter and Sandra from the whole W.U Hstry Team to take the time to do this! You can count with all of our support ever! Keep rocking the Medieval scene guys!
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