IMC 2018: Sessions

Session 1232: Contested Medieval Sites in Modern National and Local Politics

Wednesday 4 July 2018, 14.15-15.45

Moderator/Chair:Renée Michelle Ward, School of English & Journalism, University of Lincoln
Paper 1232-aThe Medieval Synagogue in Worms: A Case Study on Its Reconstruction Post-Shoah - Motifs and Interests, Visitors and Narratives
(Language: English)
Susanne Urban, SchUM-Städte e.V., Worms
Index terms: Archives and Sources, Politics and Diplomacy, Teaching the Middle Ages
Paper 1232-bLieux de mémoire: The Politics and Ethics of Medieval War Memorials
(Language: English)
Ellen Caldwell, Department of Humanities & Social Sciences, Clarkson University, Potsdam
Index terms: Military History, Social History
Paper 1232-cMemory and Loss at Saint-Denis in the Reign of Louis-Philippe
(Language: English)
Sarah Thompson, School of Art, Rochester Institute of Technology, New York
Index terms: Architecture - Religious, Historiography - Modern Scholarship
Paper 1232-dSources, Archives, and Power: Constructing the Finnish Medieval Past
(Language: English)
Taina Saarenpää, Department of Finnish History, University of Turku
Index terms: Archives and Sources, Historiography - Modern Scholarship, Medievalism and Antiquarianism

Paper -a:
The presentation will focus on the reconstruction of the famous medieval Worms’s Synagogue. This ‘reappearance’ (after it was burnt down in November 1938) is often recounted as a success story of early post-Shoah German-Jewish reconciliation. The manifold and sometimes ambiguous motifs around the reconstruction promoted by the City Archivist together with the former Head of Worms’s Jewish Community and other stakeholders will be discussed based on various sources. Another aspect will show how the Jewish spaces in Speyer, Worms, and Mainz (ShUM) were presented and if they were on display as primarily historical, ethnographic spaces. This well-meant interest was also connected to some self-referential ‘coming to terms with the past’. How and if these spaces as more or less ‘symbolic topographies’ – above all the Worms’s synagogue – have changed their character again, will be debated at the end of the presentation. The ShUM-cities are in the process of applying for UNESCO-World Heritage and will hand over the application in 2020.

Paper -b:
This paper reexamines two late medieval lieux, Jeanne d’Arc and Azincourt, as contested war memorials. Remembrances of Jeanne, one of Nora’s original lieux and a mythical figure from the beginning, continue to ignite controversy. France’s 2012 celebration of the 600th anniversary of her birth was colored by divisive political declarations over who owns the ‘meaning’ of Jeanne. Monuments such as Frémiet’s statue in Paris have for some years been co-opted by the Front National, and the annual fêtes in the villes johanniques are often highly politicized. The meaning of Azincourt/Agincourt as a battle and sacralized space remains ambiguous: although a 2015 joint French-British ceremony and monument at Azincourt on the battle’s 600th anniversary reaffirmed mutual amity, separate French and British colloquies revealed sharply divergent ‘memories’ of the battle. Both Jeanne and Azincourt raise uneasy questions about the moral complications of war memorials, cultural ownership, and their contemporary context.

Paper -c:
A new era began at the former abbey church of Saint-Denis with the 1830 accession of Louis-Philippe. His need to both prove the legitimacy of his rule and distinguish his rule from the ancien regime are exemplified by a shift of emphasis at Saint-Denis from the present to the past and from private to public. While not officially classed as a monument historique until 1862, I argue that it was during Louis-Philippe’s reign that Saint-Denis became a monument moreso than a church; notably, protests over the fate of the north tower, resurfaced in the late 1830s and dismantled in 1846-1847, arose not from a loss of functionality, but from pleas for archaeologically accurate restoration to preserve the fabric of the supposed first Gothic building and the heritage of the French people.

Paper -d:
Source publications have a great impact on medieval studies. But the foundation of those publications and the role of the archives behind them have often not been questioned. Even though many of the new digital collections are based on them and archives are not seen only as objective keepers anymore. To be able to critically evaluate the sources it’s important to make the role and power of the archive visible. It’s crucial to know which were the thoughts behind the publication work and how was it done. This paper focuses on the way historical past is constructed through source publications and the publishing work done in Finland before 1900.