Skip to main content

IMC 2019: Sessions

Session 729: 19th-Century Medievalism: Artefacts and Anxieties

Tuesday 2 July 2019, 14.15-15.45

Moderator/Chair:Nadia Altschul, School of Modern Languages & Cultures (Hispanic Studies), University of Glasgow
Paper 729-aGothic Black Death: Rediscovering the Great Pestilence in 19th-Century Britain
(Language: English)
Ben Dodds, Department of History, Florida State University
Index terms: Historiography - Modern Scholarship, Medievalism and Antiquarianism, Social History
Paper 729-b'Greatest, most splendid, most precious': Source Publications as Material Objects of History Culture
(Language: English)
Taina Saarenpää, Department of Finnish History, University of Turku
Index terms: Archives and Sources, Historiography - Modern Scholarship, Medievalism and Antiquarianism
Paper 729-cManuscripts, Museums, and Historical Societies: The 19th Century's Fascination with the Medieval
(Language: English)
Maria Tranter, Departement Geschichte, Universität Basel
Index terms: Historiography - Modern Scholarship, Language and Literature - German, Medievalism and Antiquarianism

Paper -a:
In his report on the squalid conditions in parts of York published in 1844, Thomas Laycock observed that, if epidemic mortality had been any worse than it had been in recent years, then 'popular frenzy' like that which attended the Black Death might have been the result. This paper will explore why the Black Death became a source of popular, scientific, and scholarly concern during the 19th century. It will be argued that interest in the Black Death reflected confidence in the differences between the 'civilized' and 'medieval' worlds, but also anxieties that those differences were breaking down.

Paper -b:
This paper focuses on source publications as material objects of history culture. Publishing of medieval sources had an important role in the way the historical past was constructed and presented in the 19th and 20th centuries in Europe. Publications were used as proof of a nation's history and later also of common European heritage and unity. The scattered medieval sources were gathered together and made visible to anyone as concrete artefacts. Publications had a role as illustrative material in history education and exhibitions. They were also precious and pretentious objects that were used as gifts and as memorials.

Paper -c:
Making use of collections of letters between academics and focusing on the town of Basel in Switzerland - directly on the border to what is now France and Germany - this paper proposes to study the deep fascination with the Middle Ages that in the second half of the 19th century, amongst political struggles in all three countries, led to the founding of a historical society, a collection of medieval artefacts that would later become a museum, the publication of a great many historical treatises and editions of medieval manuscripts, and even to the 400-year celebration of the 'Great Earthquake of 1365'.