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New Medieval Books: Fortunes and Thoughts

Five books that will take you from the borders of England and Scotland to the islands between Japan and China.

The Book of the Mutability of Fortune, by Christine de Pizan

Edited and translated by Geri L. Smith

Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies
ISBN: 978-0-86698-570-3

Excerpt: How will it be possible for me, simple and of little intelligence, to express appropriately what cannot be easily assessed or well understood? However much one has been able to learn, one could not fully describe what I yearn to write. That is because of the great variety of specific adversities and occurrences comprising the heavy burdens that the fickle influence of deceitful Fortune engenders. They are the result of her vast repletion, itself a veritable abyss of unfathomable depth. I cannot help but fall short in undertaking a work as vast as describing the envious nature of her deception. It would be difficult for me to speak of it adequately, given my limited intelligence, when many distinguished people have written about it and have been incapable of recording all that can be said about her.

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Medieval Imagery in Today’s Politics

By Daniel Wollenberg

Arc Humanities Press
ISBN: 9781942401407

Excerpt: The primary aim of this book is, more simply, to introduce how and why the premodern past is manipulated and deployed as a means to certain political ends today. The first chapter introduces the medieval as an inherently politically charged concept in contemporary political discourse and examines dark medievalism in particular. The second chapter then turns to the far and extreme right’s association of white identity with the Middle Ages at the more radical ends of political discourse. The third chapter examines Traditionalist Conservatism in the US and Europe, showing how the far- and extreme- right’s embrace of medieval cultural heritage has been central to certain strands of relatively mainstream conservative thought for decades, if not longer. The fourth chapter turns it attention to political medievalism on the left (though not exclusively left) and in the academy by considering the concept of ‘neo-medievalism’ and revisiting the New Medievalism of International Relations theory.

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Why Medieval Philosophy Matters

By Stephen Boulter

Bloomsbury
ISBN: 978-1-3500-9416-1

Excerpt: Philosophers with a special interest in medieval thought have spent much time and effort expounding the virtues of scholastic principles to other professionals in the discipline. Indeed, it might appear that specialists in medieval philosophy have little else since serious work began on the project or recovering the thought of the scholastics well over a century and a half ago. Our collective endeavours have continually been straining in the same direction – making the case for medieval philosophy to the philosophical mainstream. So why yet another work on why medieval philosophy matters? Surely if there is a case to be made for medieval philosophy it has been by now.

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Maritime Ryukyu, 1050-1650

By Gregory Smits

University of Hawai’i Press
ISBN: 9780824873370

Excerpt: This book is an interdisciplinary, revisionist history of the Ryukyu islands between approximately 1050 and 1650 with occasional excursions into later years. The year 1050 marks the approximate beginning of the ‘Gusuku Period’ in the Ryukyu islands, a time when power centers emerged. In 1650, Sho Shoken (1617-1675) published Reflections on Chuzan (Chuzan seikan), Ryukyu’s first official history. For reasons that will become clear, this event is a fitting end point for this study.

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The Battle of Carham: A Thousand Years On

Edited by Neil McGuigan and Alex Woolf

Birlinn
ISBN: 978 1 9190900 24 6

Excerpt: Rightly or wrongly, the encounter between the Northumbrians and their northern and western neigbours has long been regarded as one of Scotland’s ‘coming of age’ battles. Our most detailed notice of the battle of Carham contains the last clear reference to a king of Strathclyde, but the battle has also been linked with the Scottish annexation of Lothian. The Victorian historian Thomas Hodgkin opined that the battle was ‘more important than Brunanburgh’ adding that ‘we perhaps say only a little less important than Hastings.’

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