Continue my series on I am continuing to work through the postmedieval forum about the public Middle Ages. Previous installments here, here and here. Today, Matt Gabriele on “There is no public Middle Ages.”
As academics, as specialists, we perhaps ought consider that the fundamental nature of our job is to be ghost-hunters. We drag out restless, oftentimes invisible spirits and make them visible. The focus, rightly, should be on the ghosts themselves — who they were in their lifetimes but also how they’ve passed through time and reemerged into ours — rather than where those ghosts manifest themselves. That matters but only secondarily. In other words, the nature of that activity isn’t changed by where we do it.
I more or less agree. There are all kinds of consequences that follow depending on where we practice history, but the core activity is the same.
I do think though that those consequences – the rhetorics we use, the ways we authorize ourselves, the choices we are forced to make (I talk about that in my piece – the difficulty of appeasing multiple audiences in 800 words or less), and so forth – have more impact than Gabriele suggests here.