If you’re going to talk about the Dark Ages, you had better be right.

Because I am absolutely responsible for all of my own problems, my lovely readers often send me bad medieval takes in order to watch me get mad. This is effective. Today, one of my fantastic Patreon patrons did so by sending me this truly terrible take in the New York Times. Yeah you think it is going to be an innocuous take about messaging in the American presidential election because Thomas L. Friedman is chirpily writing about what “Should be Biden’s Bumper Sticker”, but then, well…

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On martyrdom and nationalism

This week, at the behest of the good Dr Öberg Strådal, I have been thinking about martyrdom, as one does. As someone with a documented interest in saints it could be that this particular sideline thought is just a result of, you know, being a dork-ass medievalist who should get out more but can’t because there is a pandemic on. Instead, however, I am forced to admit that this pondering has been spurred by a tweet from none other than Trump’s lawyer (a thing I defo knew and did not have to google), Jenna Ellis.

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Podcast (well, webinaire) alert: The Medieval Sex Apocalypse on Drinking with Historians

I was absolutely thrilled to join Varsha and Matt on Drinking with Historians last Friday. My wifi was bad, but the vibes were big! We chatted about sexuality, the apocalypse, preaching, and cops. Enjoy!

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On a world without police

In the midst of the global Black Lives Matter discussion, many are now learning for the first time about calls for the defunding and abolition of police. Although there is a rich political and philosophical discourse for such calls, still many react to these calls with confusion and the reason why is understandable. As Alex S. Vitale has argued eloquently in his The End of Policing, (a free ebook of which you can find here!) the austere conditions of government over the past decades have effectively made police a one-stop shop for any societal issue. A neighbor experiencing mental distress? Police wellness check. Trouble in schools? Assign police officers. Opioid overdose? Call the police. Broken windows? The police fine for that. Meanwhile, a proliferation of budgeting for police departments has seen ever expanding and hyper militarized police forces exert ever more forceful control over the communities that they are meant to protect.

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Religious iconography has always been a prop

This week’s blog is by regular contributor and friend of the blog, and the other half of Medieval Dick Twitter, Dr Sara Öberg Strådal, a kick ass art historian working on medieval medical visual cultureFollow her on Twitter for excellent meme action, and generally correct opinions.

In the last week American police forces responded to demonstrations against state brutality and the recurring extrajudicial murders of Black people with, predictably, more violence. Donald Trump, unencumbered by critical thinking and with an internal monologue consisting entirely of old-timey slurs, called for even more violence. Upon his request, tear gas and rubber bullets were used to drive away peaceful protestors so that he could walk down to St Johns, ‘the Church of the President’s’, and take a series of creepy photos holding a book he has almost certainly never read.

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Medieval policing and race reading lists

It has been a heavy week as we in the global north struggle with our collective legacies of racism and heavy handed policing. Some of my colleagues of colour are working on a piece for the blog about race and racism in the medieval period and in medievalist circles now, which will be published ASAP. Until then, for an overview I have compiled some academic reading lists for you. I have tired, where possible, to supply online materials.

Happy reading, and solidarity.

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On Odious Debt

This week, one of you, my very dear readers, tipped me off to an excellent article. (Thanks George!) In said article my colleague at LSE, David Graeber, has an extensive and extremely interesting discussion with Disenz, “On harmful jobs, odious debt, and facists who believe in global warming”, which is very much worth your time. 

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On the Lusty Month of May

Today in London it is the sort of hot that it should not be in May. I am talking about wearing short shorts and writing on the deck hot. I am talking I ate mangoes and hot sauce for lunch hot. I am talking the sort of hot that it should be in August, not May, the middle of Spring. Instead of thinking about how this means that the planet is going through a series of changes that are going to be a very serious challenge for life as we know it, I am going to talk to you about how on days like this you can sort of understand why medieval people were extremely horny for May.

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My fav [not] Saints: St Guinefort

Given the general state of the world, I thought today would be a good day to consider the best saint to ever have the title stripped of them, and what that means about personal religious devotion versus Church ideals in the medieval period. Yes there are some very high minded reasons why we can discuss St Guinefort, but my interest has nothing to do with that, as will soon become clear.

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