High-Tech Medievalism?

In an article on GPS Tracking for pedophiles, Slate’s William Saletan describes the practice of outfitting released sex offenders with tracking bracelets as “high-tech medievalism.”

I leave it to you, my throngs of loyal readers, to decide just what the middle ages and pedophilia have to do with each other.

The use of the word “medievalism” cracks me up, though. As someone who studies the middle ages, I’m called a medievalist. Both the historical study of the middle ages and the over-romanticization of the middle ages (eating big turkey legs at Rennfests) are described by the word “medievalism”. If there were an article in front of the word medievalism, like ‘a medievalism’ or ‘the medievalism’ or ‘this medievalism’ then the word would refer either to something properly medieval (like, say, the Beowulf manuscript or the practice of building cathedrals), or to something faux-medieval (like the Lord of the Rings).

Saletan wants us to read the phrase as: “a high tech way of getting medieval on their sex-offending asses” or “a high tech means of carrying out an attitude towards criminals that would be appropriate to the middle ages”. But all I see is, “a high tech study of the middle ages”–by which he must mean something like, oh, my blog.

PS: Check out the high-tech medievalism now on the blog’s header. It’s an image of a man laying eggs, from the marginalia of Yale MS 229.

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