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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On Jerusalem and the Apocalypse, or, why you should be deeply unsettled right now

Ever since Constantine the Great converted to Christianity, it has not been possible to simultaneously be both a Westerner and view Jerusalem as simply a city. Part of this, obviously, has to do with the fact that some of the more memorable parts of the life of Jesus took place in Jerusalem.* The other thing is that Jerusalem is absolutely integral to the Christian idea of the Apocalypse.

Now as a sane, happy (I hope, anyway. I believe in you.) person, you may not quite get why we should give any fucks about the Apocalypse. Why worry about the end of the universe? Why does that come into play at all in the day to day life of your average Christian? These are good relevant points that we must cling to in order to continue to fight off overwhelming feelings of dread in the nightmarish hellscape that is the current political landscape.

Trouble is, Christianity as a religion is obsessed with the apocalypse.

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On chronicles versus journalism, and ruling versus governing

Ohhhh there is a lot to say, is there not? You think that you have starred fully into the depths of the dumpster fire and fully appreciated its heat, its dazzle, its stench, but it just. keeps. burning.

As a medieval historian, one aspect of said dumpster fire that has interested me of late is the concept of ‘fake news’ and what Trump feels the purpose of the press is. More specifically, it is of interest that apparently Trump feels that the press should be taking on the same function during his presidency as commissioned chroniclers did during the medieval period.

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On the American election, teaching history, and why it matters

This election should not surprise anyone who teaches history. I teach medieval and early modern history at several unis in London.

The study of history in these eras shows us very clearly that Western society is built for white male protestant property owners.

This same society has been built over the bodies of black and brown people, and kept whites without property deliberately marginalised. Within it, the role of women has always been to be scapegoats for the worst of male excess, and vessels for sexual gratification/the getting of heirs.

You should not, therefore, be surprised to see a misogynist racist ruling what has always been a white supremacist society.

As historians, it is our job to show our students the roots of this society – SHOW them the thought processes that have built our world.

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On power and entitlement to the bodies of lower-status women, or, the thing that IS actually medieval about Trump

Elsewhere, we have discussed why it is that the use of the word ‘medieval’ as a pejorative is, in general, quite lazy and a convenient way of distancing ourselves from the terrible things which take place in our own time.

Having said that, the medieval world still very much influences many of our political institutions, and our mind-sets.  If we consider, for example, that the Church and a universal concept of the West as the home of Christendom to be the overriding hallmarks of the medieval period, it helps us understand why for many people, theoretical Christian values are seen as an inherent part of being Western.

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On why the misuse of the word ‘medieval’ is a bad thing – part of an on-going series

At Going Medieval, we are loath to wade in on the whole Trump thing, as it is best not to dignify sentient dumpster fires with a response.

This guy though – this fucking guy – whilst attempting to draw attention away from that one time he got caught bragging about sexually assaulting women, (it is assumed that he’s done it plenty of times whilst not being caught), declared that the current state of the world  ‘…is like medieval times, we haven’t seen anything like this – the carnage all over the world’.

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