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IMC 2009: Sessions

Session 713: Re-Assessing the Medieval Economy

Tuesday 14 July 2009, 14.15-15.45

Moderator/Chair:Wendy R. Childs, Institute for Medieval Studies / School of History, University of Leeds
Paper 713-aNarratives of Technological Revolution in the Middle Ages
(Language: English)
Adam Lucas, Science & Technology Studies, University of Wollongong, New South Wales
Index terms: Archaeology - General, Historiography - Medieval, Historiography - Modern Scholarship, Technology

Paper -a:
This paper examines narratives of technological revolution in the Middle Ages as a distinctively 20th-century phenomenon. The paper links these narratives genealogically to a broader tradition of progress narratives in the history of science and archaeology, focussing on claims for two kinds of technological revolution in the European Middle Ages: an 'agricultural revolution' of the 6th to 9th centuries, and an 'industrial revolution' of the 11th to 14th centuries. The content of the original narratives are examined, and whether that content can be supported by contemporary scholarship in the relevant fields. The paper concludes with a discussion of the rhetorical function performed by such narratives.