Want to make sure you get mainstream press attention as a medievalist? I don’t, of course, being dedicated only to my own very important and ground breaking research, the betterment of my students, and scrupulous attendance at all faculty functions, but perhaps you do. Here’s how you do it: take a modern buzz word and say that something in the Middle Ages closely resembles it.
Did you know that medieval monarchs were sub-prime borrowers? They were, if by sub-prime you don’t mean that because of their official credit score they did not qualify for the best lending rates from banks, but instead just mean that medieval kings borrowed a lot, especially the unreliable English ones.
Did you know that medieval women had girl power? They did, if by girl you mean divorced women in their 30’s and by power you mean the ability to commission books and go on tours instead of… well, whatever it was the Spice Girls were shouting about. It was mainly the ability to shout ‘girl power!’ while karate-kicking and wearing a sparkly shirt, if I remember correctly.*
And finally, did you know that gay marriage goes back to the Middle Ages? It does, if by gay marriage you mean some sort of economic arrangement between men that allowed them to share the same household and by goes back to the Middle Ages you mean appears in a limited context in a region of late medieval France.**
Of course, this sort of behavior only earns my scorn. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go demonstrate my teaching effectiveness.
*But I don’t remember correctly, because I spent the 90’s learning Latin and Old English, the latter of which I would be comfortable teaching to undergraduates and would you like to see my sample syllabus?
**Don’t get me wrong. The Middle Ages was not as obsessed with homosexuality as we are today. Some might even say more tolerant. But at the end of the day, I’m sure that your average Joe Cask-of-Mead would still say that men being with men was an abomination. But they wrote a lot more about the problem of nuns traveling to monasteries to play music and have sex than they did about men having sex with other men.