It’s not too late: here in this time-zone, there’s an hour left for hugging medievalists. Here is a round-up of the medievalist huggery that’s being going on today over in the Twitterverse.
First, an explanatory note on Medievalists, why they have a Day online, and why hugging is a fitting tribute.
Medievalists are used to living in multiple worlds simultaneously.
Entire worlds: languages, literatures, other man-made artefacts, crafts, social structures, stories and histories, ways of being. In short, cultures. Some of them very weird and alien (the worlds, not the medievalists, though that may not be that obvious).
Some of them unreal or ethereal in comparison with the worlds that most people, and most academics, inhabit.
We deal a lot with the imaginary and the virtual:
reading between the lines;
negotiating with—and negotiating—the subtle and sophisticated;
juggling multiple-version texts, palimpsests, fragments, manuscripts, codices, encyclopaedias, massive complex intertextual cycles (the conceptual ancestors of, for example, the Marvelverse), and entire libraries;
creatively reading the difficult, obscure, allusive, fiendishly cleverly enigmatic;
communing with the invisible, the dead, and other strange but sentient and sensitive life-forms;
conjuring meaning in uncanny conversations with all that is wizardly, owlish, foxy, faery; the wild and fiery; the slippery and airy; all that is monstrous, magical, and marvellous.
It is in the nature of our work that we also deal a lot with that other magical world, the one that is online. Medieval studies is one of the areas of the Humanities with the longest, richest, and most innovative traditions of digital scholarship; as a natural extension of 19th and earlier 20th century philology; along with our kin, philology’s other main antique branches, Classics and Oriental & African studies (expanding from World War II onwards to include the full global panoply of non-modern-European languages and their cultures).
The Medieval is also one of the first fields of inter-/cross-/multi-/pan-disciplinary studies to have come into being, and may be the longest-running, as a natural extension of its materials’ intertextual, multiverse embrace.
We’re very online and very huggy.
What follows is just a sample selection of all the #HugAMedievalist that’s been going on today.
A Medievalist is for ever, not just for #HugAMedievalist Day.
Every decent self-respecting university should have some; the bigger and better, the more they tend to have. Aspiring to “excellence”? Get yourself some medievalists. We’re very cheap, compared to other academics. We can also explain what “excellence” means, and why, and how it came to be, and why these are useful and important things to know.
The next time you need some deep complex analogical thought, some close reading, some heavy-duty reading, and what might look to others like lots of research: come and ask us. It’s probably light and light relief compared to our usual scholarly “work-work.”
After all, we philologists were and continue to be the other lot of people who get used for diplomacy, decryption, and high-level analysis. And have been, internationally, since the days of heralds. We are fortunate that in today’s world we can serve others in ways that are less monastic and military than they used to be; more human, for us and for those with whom we work.
So happy end of the Medievalist day, here’s to the next one and many more to come, and to more Medievalism in everyone’s lives. We’re a huggy embracing lot: happy to welcome others into the fold, as nascent or budding or honorary Medievalists. Medievalism is for all, not just for Medievalists.