Posts tagged History
Posts tagged History
Not only are the Middle Ages constructed as a nostalgically longed-for pre-race utopia, the same argument is also used to in attempts exclude people of color from contemporary fan communities and to construct those communities as normatively white.
People of color are only welcome in many medievalist digital spaces if they pass as white by not asking questions or commenting on any thread to do with race, let alone starting one.
The myth of the monochrome Middle Ages, in which the medieval is originary, pure, and white, transcends geographical and temporal boundaries. It is attached, through supposed biological descent, to white bodies, wherever and whenever they go, even into the apparently non-corporeal digital realms of fan-forums, television and video-games.
There are many fans of color of popular culture medievalisms, but a hostile milieu which consistently repeats the messages that ‘you don’t belong in the Middle Ages’ and the ‘the Middle Ages are not yours’ actively discourages setting out on, let alone completing, a journey from interested fan to professional scholar.
Helen Young is throwing some haymakers here.Race rarely seems to get a mention in these sorts of pieces unless they are in activist forums, and those which do engage don’t often it take up in connection with the medievalism of the show – or novels. It is hard to argue with a comment like: “Westeros is the fantasy analogue of the British Isles in its period, so it is a long long way from the Asia analogue. There weren’t a lot of Asians in Yorkish England either.” Medieval England, however, was not mono-cultural, mono-racial, or mono-lingual, nor was Europe as a whole, much less all the shores of the Mediterranean. We know this, our research shows it: journeys, movement and connections, not politico-geographical ethno-national boundaries reverse engineered in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, are increasingly structuring our fields of study. Pointing out the errors and mis-representations that litter the landscape of works in The Real Middle AgesTM mold is a worthwhile endeavor, but unless we follow through by changing our own practices, we are just shouting into the Stormfront of white supremacy. We need to not just interject into conversations that are already happening in the public sphere – although that in itself is important, and can happen in a multitude of ways. We also need to look to what we can do through our own scholarly to shape the ways that the Middle Ages will be re-imagined in the popular culture and the academy of the future.
I’ve seen this image going around, and I feel compelled to point out that it’s only half-right. It’s true that high heels were originally a masculine fashion, but they weren’t originally worn by butchers - nor for any other utilitarian purpose, for that matter.
High heels were worn by men for exactly the same reason they’re worn by women today: to display one’s legs to best effect. Until quite recently, shapely, well-toned calves and thighs were regarded as an absolute prerequisite for male attractiveness. That’s why you see so many paintings of famous men framed to show off their legs - like this one of George Washington displaying his fantastic calves:
… or this one of Louis XIV of France rocking a fabulous pair of red platform heels (check out those thighs!):
… or even this one of Charles I of England showing off his high-heeled riding boots - note, again, the visual emphasis on his well-formed calves:
In summary: were high heels originally worn by men? Yes. Were they worn to keep blood off their feet? No at all - they were worn for the same reason they’re worn today: to look fabulous.
so then how did they become a solo feminine item of attire?
A variety of reasons. In France, for example, high heels fell out out of favour in the court of Napoleon due to their association with aristocratic decadence, while in England, the more conservative fashions of the Victorian era regarded it as indecent for a man to openly display his calves.
But then, fashions come and go. The real question is why heels never came back into fashion for men - and that can be laid squarely at the feet of institutionalised homophobia. Essentially, heels for men were never revived because, by the early 20th Century, sexually provocative attire for men had come to be associated with homosexuality; the resulting moral panic ushered in an era of drab, blocky, fully concealing menswear in which a well-turned calf simply had no place - a setback from which men’s fashion has yet to fully recover.
FASHION HISTORY IS HUMAN HISTORY OK
Thank you, history side of tumblr. That “stay out of blood” thing has been driving me mad.
How historical figures would have looked today:
- ADMIRAL LORD NELSON
- WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
- MARIE ANTOINETTE
- HENRY VIII
- ELIZABETH I
I LOVE THIS
ALSO MODERN!HENRY VIII LOOKS LIKE HE WOULD RUN AN ESTABLISHMENT OF ILL-REPUTE
18th century Indian dagger with sheath, made with steel, shark skin, jade, gold, ruby, emerald, sapphire and silver. In the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Whenever people point to Mary Shelley and say “a woman invented sci-fi you know” I just think “well, I mean, technically a woman invented the whole concept of authoring books as far as we can tell but hey who’s keeping track”
john quincy adams was the first US president to grant a personal interview to a female reporter, and the only reason he allowed it was because the reporter (anne royall) caught him skinny dipping in the potomac, sat on his clothes, and refused to let him get dressed until he answered her questions and if you dont think that’s one of the coolest stories of early US society then idk what to tell you
it was really disappointing when i found out helen keller was a eugenicist, because, as a disabled woman, there was so much that i looked up to her for, one of them being her brilliant eloquence when discussing such vitally important issues such as women’s rights and laborer’s rights, as well as her part in helping found the ACLU, and her advocacy for socialism.
but, it doesn’t change the fact that she was a eugenicist, and the fact that she publicly supported the euthanasia of a disabled child.
while her writings on the abolishment of horrific institutions like capitalism and poverty do seem invaluable, i think people need to take into consideration, before they post quotes of hers, or pictures of her [and so on], that there’s nothing more capitalistic and corrupt than systematically wiping out ”defectives” such as the poor, disabled people, people of color, sex workers, lgbtq people, &etc. by sterilizing them, forcibly institutionalizing them, and murdering them, because they did not ”contribute” to the maintaining of the ”right” kind of society.
Albert Einstein teaching a physics class at Lincoln university (HCBU in Pennsylvania) in 1946
Sure as hell never mention that about him.
Renaissance Metal Art - Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Etching, derived from an ancient Germanic word for ‘eat’, uses corrosive acids to bite designs into hard surfaces like metal. The background can either be eaten away so the design stands out in relief, or the design itself can be bitten into the surface. The technique creates a shallow relief making it possible to create highly decorated objects without compromising the structural integrity of the metal making it suitable for items like weapons, locks and tool. Between 1500 and 1750 production centred on southern Germany and northern Italy where etched armour was a speciality.
Padlock and Key, c 1580
Southern Germany, Steel
Helmet (Morion), c 1580
Northern Italy, Steel
Gauntlet, c 1580
Northern Italy, Steel
Thigh Defence (Cuisse), c 1515-1525
Augsburg, Southern Germany – Steel
Barrel-Maker’s Knife, 1702
Germany – Steel, brass
Casket, c 1570-1600
Cranequin, c 1565-1574
Southern Germany, Steel-wood-rope