On cathedrals and cooperation

This month my comrades at ALE and I are working on the theme of cooperation, and I thought a useful thing to think about in that context is not my usual favs of rebellion, or even collective republics, but architecture. In particular, I want to talk about what you could argue are the most important medieval buildings – cathedrals. Cathedrals, from the Latin cathedra meaning “throne of the bishop” are and were enormous and intricate buildings that took centuries to build, and you probably know that. However, we often talk about them as finished projects rather than as a testament to how humans cooperate with each other across time. That’s what we’re gonna do today.

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On the commemoration of the dead, and poppy season

A thing about being alive is that someday you won’t be. This is, of course, a matter of fact and also something that humans have always had to deal with. The dead, writ large, outnumber the living, and it is the living who have to deal with the dead. The bodies of the dead can harm us if they are not sufficiently dealt with, of course, however there is also the significant psychological connection that the living have with the dead. We grieve people that we have lost, and as a part of that often seek to commemorate them. That happens on a small scale when we have funerals for our loved ones who have died, which is a way of allowing those who knew and cared for someone to connect to their memory. Then you also have forms of collective grieving and commemoration of the dead as a large group, and let me tell you what, over here in the UK we are very much in the middle of one of those, because it is poppy season.

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Podcast alert – Fare Thee Well: the timeless endurance of Renaissance Faires for 1A

I stopped by 1A to talk about Renaissance Faires, medievalisms, and how big imaginations help us push back against ahistorical white supremacy

On looking in the past for a better future

This month I am very proud to say that the media collective that I am a part of Alternative Leftist Entertainment (or ALE, to friends) has launched. (You can follow us on Twitter, here.) This is a very nice thing for me, because it is a treat to have colleagues. Also it will be very nice for you, the lovely person reading this, because it means I have to do a piece each month along with everyone else in the collective that focuses on the monthly theme, so that is a nice thing to force me to write. Yay! (We like that right? We agree that me writing things is good, yes?)

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On periods, and the dudes who fear them

So today I had to see what is probably a joke about men’s attitudes towards periods, but which also might be a really stupid take about periods from some man on the internet, and I thought that was as good an excuse as any to talk about conceptions of menstruation in the medieval period. In theory, we have come a long way towards understanding how and why uterus’s bleed. In practice there’s a sad number of guys like this out in the world who just…feel the need to say things like this:

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On Margery Kempe and the Bad Art Friend

So, I am like a week later than this than I wanted to be because I got really sick, but have you read “Who is the Bad Art Friend”? You should read “Bad Art Friend”. This will all make so much more sense if you just go read “Who is the Bad Art Friend”. If you do not want to go read “Who is the Bad Art Friend” I will do my best to recap one of the most bonkers pieces of writing that I have read in sometime for you so that the rest of this article makes sense, I guess. It is easier if you go read it though.

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On semen retention

Mostly because my life is cursed/an unending nightmare, I have been subjected to a lot of takes about semen retention lately. Part of this has to do with the fact that it is a specific alt-right talking point, with certain nazis going so far as to make statements like, “The (((elites))) [Jewish people] fear men who practice semen retention”, which…IDK man I don’t even know where to start with that one. Also, like, whatever the hell this is, which made me take psychic damage earlier this week:

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On bad summers

In London everyone is complaining because we are having one of those summers that just isn’t a summer. This happens, from time to time. Instead of temperatures in the twenties/seventies we get a progression of teens/sixties and a bunch of rain. The grass loves it, and most people complain about it, because somehow they have been fooled into believing that the Island of Britain is reliably a warm place. (Citation extremely needed.)

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On leisure in August

It’s August, and while you might not realise that here in London by looking at the weather, we are headed into the month that many Europeans generally associate with time off. As a rule of thumb, here when one is planning a summer holiday, one does so in August. In some places life shuts down specifically for the holidays, as a result, with offices running skeleton staffs. Usually, a lot of us slope off somewhere else for a while, though in the pandemic that is happening less and less of course. Travel plans notwithstanding, August is often the time when we expect people to relax more and work less.

This phenomenon is not exactly newsworthy. If you have every been anywhere in Europe during August I am sure you would have noticed the high proportion of tourists. What is interesting to me is that the association of rest with August is a relatively new idea. If you asked a medieval or early modern European, instead they would likely tell you that August was one of the busiest times of the year.

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On damsels and influencers

So, the other day I was over on my extremely good Patreon that you would like if you joined, having a chat in a video about my research methodologies and some books I have used lately. I gushed about one book in particular, Kim M. Phillips’s Medieval Maidens: young women and gender in England, 1270-1540, which absolutely rules. The book focuses on the idea of “maidenhood”, which especially for the aristocratic, was a phase of life was strongly correlated with the conception of a nebulous “youth” similar our own teenage.

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