The Arc Blog and Podcasts

Countdown to April 1st

Middle English Text Series (METS), located in Rochester, NY, produces many wonderful editions of Middle English works, which can be found on their website here. We, Medieval Institute Publications, publish these editions, which can be found on our website here. This year, MIP and METS are teaming up for the Countdown to April 1st! April 1st, a.k.a. “Whanne that Aprille day,” when scholars and connoisseurs will gather to celebrate dead languages, including our favorite Middle English. This countdown was started by Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog (now active as Chaucer doth Tweet), and you can read more about that here!  During this year’s countdown, we plan...

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“The Find of a Lifetime”

Tom Lucking, a 23-year-old undergraduate student of Landscape History at the University of East Anglia, stumbled upon the find of a lifetime this past December in Norfolk. While combing over a farmer’s field with a metal detector, Lucking and a friend were surprised when the metal detector picked up a strong signal which turned out to be from a bronze bowl buried underground (Figure 1, in situ). After uncovering the bowl, Lucking knew he had found something extraordinary, and immediately stopped to call in the Suffolk Archaeological Field Group (of which he is a member), and Norfolk County Council’s Heritage...

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Teaching the New Paradigm in Black Death Studies

[caption id="attachment_1310" align="alignright" width="198"] Figure 1: Cover image, The Medieval Globe, vol. 1: Pandemic Disease in the Medieval World: Rethinking the Black Death.[/caption] In November 2014, I and seventeen colleagues published a collection of essays in the inaugural issue of The Medieval Globe [fig. 1]. We sought to address a simple question: how could we—how should we—reconceive the Black Death in light of the new understanding of plague’s history that has emerged out of research in genetics over the past decade and a half? Since 1998, research in microbiology, and particularly molecular genetics, had seen three great achievements: in 2001,...

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Finding Modern Medical Treatments in Medieval Places

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="257"] Pentafillos (Cinquefoil) and Columbaris (Vervain) from Pseudo-Apuleius Herbal, 11th century, Bodleian MS Ashmole 1431, fol. 6r. The Old English Herbarium credits Pentafillos, or ‘fifleafe’ in Old English, as a curative for anything from joint ache to stomachaches and headaches to even ulcers. To the author’s knowledge, however, the efficacy of fifleafein these recipes has not been tested recently.[/caption] At this year’s Society for General Microbiology’s Annual Conference, researchers from the University of Nottingham presented results from tests using a modern recreation of a 10th-century cure for a stye (an infected eyelash follicle). This Anglo-Saxon eye-salve recipe, found...

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Getting the Words Out (and Back In): What to do When a Plague Image is Not an Image of Plague

[caption id="attachment_220" align="alignleft" width="300"] Figure 1: Image as it appears on Wikipedia, originally with the caption “Plague Victims Blessed by Priest”[/caption] In October 2012, Dr. Monica Green, Professor of History at Arizona State University posted an informative commentary on the medieval medicine listserv MEDMED-L to explore the dangers that arise when decontextualised (and cropped) medieval manuscript images circulate freely on the Internet and are used for retrospective (iconographic) diagnosis. Green focused in particular on this now iconic and ubiquitous representation of the Black Death taken from James le Palmer’s Omne bonum (British Library MS Royal 6 E. VI f.301, 1360-1375)....

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