Rewriting the Middle Ages in the Twentieth Century

Rewriting the Middle Ages in the Twentieth Century, Volume II, National Traditions

Edited by J. Aurell Cardona and J. Pavón Benito
Brepols, 2009
ISBN: 978-2-503-53144-1

The first volume of Rewriting the Middle Ages in the Twentieth Century, published in 2005 by Brepols, gathered twenty profiles of key medievalists of the 20th century, and was preceded by an introduction on the evolution and current situation of medieval studies written by Jaume Aurell. Because of the excellent international reception of that volume, we continue this historiographical task by collecting in future volumes profiles of other 20th century medievalists.

The second volume of the collection, centred on “National Traditions”, is focused on eighteen medievalists who have been significant in diverse countries in the development of both medievalism and national identity. Medievalism has been closely united to national traditions since its beginning, and this book contributes to our understanding of this phenomenon. Romantic intellectuals’ attraction to the medieval period largely explains the influence of medievalism in the formation of contemporary national identities, as from the 19th century, medievalists have also functioned as intellectuals present in the public debate. In the 20th century, important scholars of the Middle Ages, some of whom are studied in this volume, had already become authentic “national chroniclers”, consolidators of the identities of the countries to which they felt closely linked both intellectually and emotionally. They actively participated in debates that exceeded strictly academic limits, delving into a wide range of political and cultural issues.

The range of the cultural and geographical origins of the medievalists profiled in this volume – from England, Spain, France, Germany, Russia, Portugal, Romania, Poland, Argentina, Bulgaria, United States, Belgium, Holland, and Turkey –best illustrates the global influence of medievalism in the construction, invention, and consolidation of national traditions. This focus, which perhaps (and apparently) contravenes the actual strength of the process of globalisation, is especially fascinating in the field of medievalism, because most of the modern nations – specially those in Europe and Asia – have found their justification, inspiration, and legendary and historical foundations in the Middle Ages. By reading the lives of these medievalists, we can better understand the development of intellectual history and our notions of developing cultural traditions.

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