All posts by Adam

The Black Death with Professor Abigail Agresta

We’re back here at the History Cafe!  (along with major epidemics…maybe I should not make to big a deal of that…)  But considering the current pandemic and sitting in my house on lock-down along with much of the rest of the world, it seemed like a good time to revisit one of the touchstone’s of epidemic disease: The Black Death.  The Black Death, as we discuss, is one of those medieval topics where our understanding has actually changed radically in just the last couple of decades.  For a decade or so, there was significant debate about the exact nature of the disease, its origin, and why it killed so many people in the fourteenth and subsequent centuries.  Recent archaeological and genetic evidence have answered some persistent questions while raising a host of others.  We now know more than ever about the genetic history of the bacteria and how the Black Death in Europe relates to outbreaks of plague all over the world.  However, we also have many new questions about the persistence of the plague in Europe, and the connections between genetic shifts and the virality and lethality of the disease.

My guest on the podcast is professor Abigail Agresta from George Washington University in DC.  I talked to her for a previous podcast (which is a pretty good one, if I do say so) on the anti-Jewish riots in Valencia and Spain more broadly in 1391.  So if you have not heard that podcast, go back and listen to it HERE.  We go through both the classic story of the Black Death, as well as what new research has to say about this fascinating history.

Oh, and since I’m trying to streamline this podcasting process, I will be posting the podcasts with food images as usual, but I won’t put in a nice description since it tended to just slow down posting…and really this podcast is about history, not food.  Hopefully no one is too disappointed by this.  E-mail me, though, if you want to know what the pictures are of (when it’s not obvious).

 

Bibliography or links mentioned in the episode:

In Our Time podcast (From a few years ago)

And Cambridge put together a whole list of podcasts on epidemics, plague and otherwise!  Lots of options.

And some reading:

Ellen Arnold’s guest blog post at “How did we get in this mess?”

And she tweets on many medieval things @EFArnold

The classic narrative:

Benedictow, Ole J.  The Black Death 1346-1353: The Complete History. Boydell and Brewer, 2004.

Attacks on the classic narrative:

Herlihy, David.  The Black Death and the Transformation of the WestHarvard University Press, 1997.

Cohen, Samuel Kline.  The Black Death Transformed: Disease and Culture in Early Renaissance Europe. Oxford University Press, 2002.

The new understanding (and there is much more of this…e-mail me if you want):

Green, Monica, editor.  Pandemic Disease in the Medieval World: Rethinking the Black Death; The Medieval Globe vol. 1 (2014).

This has several articles by authors we mention in addition to Monica Green’s own introduction which lays out many of the new directions in plague research.

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Wilhelm Furtwangler: Romanticism, Pure Music, and the Nazis

Well, it’s been a year since my last podcast and this podcast took a couple of months to edit. Bad turn around time all around.  But I’m still here and still more or less at this!  I will hopefully be doing more in the future, but might have to have another few months hiatus before I really get back to producing them.  In the meantime, this is a lengthy podcast with a wide variety of thoughts about both past and present and nationalism and white supremacy.  But it’s all inflected through the life of a German conductor named Wilhelm Furtwangler.  Continue reading Wilhelm Furtwangler: Romanticism, Pure Music, and the Nazis

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Geography in Game of Thrones with Elly Truitt

Lamprey_Pie_1

I have finally done the thing – I’ve had a couple of people ask me about doing something on medievalism (Fantasy…Lord of the Rings…you know, your basic medieval themed pop culture production.)  And in this case, we’re talking about Game of Thrones (yes, that’s Tyrion Lanniser eating Lamprey Pie over there).  There are lots of blogs and podcasts dedicated to this sort of thing, so I’ve always hesitated, but I finally struck on a topic that didn’t seem well represented out there in the interwebs and I found a great accomplice to talk with me and make sure I (an admittedly weak fan of the show) didn’t make any really glaring mistakes.   Continue reading Geography in Game of Thrones with Elly Truitt

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Brexit and Nationalism

fish_chips_and_mushy_peasSo as I say in the first two minutes of the podcast – I somehow
recorded and even edited this podcast back in June when England voted to leave the European Union and then I failed to post it.  (And then I go on to say that I want to get through editing and posting fasted.  Ha!)  But anyway, the night of election 2016 here in the US seems like a plenty opportune time to post the same ideas since Trump’s campaign has often been compared to Brexit itself.  Although as I write this it is not really yet clear if the surprise Brexit victory will repeat itself. Continue reading Brexit and Nationalism

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The Hedgehog and the Fox with Clare Gillis

lemon_tart_-_star5112This month (bi-month?  Something like that – I wish these happened
a little more frequently) I’m again talking with my friend, medievalist and journalist Clare Gillis.  In part in response to the topic popping up in the news from time to time, I figured we should have a conversation about Isaiah Berlin’s essay on Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace titled The Hedgehog and the Fox.   Continue reading The Hedgehog and the Fox with Clare Gillis

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A Visit to an Archive

Bocadillo_Español

This month (bi-month?  I’ve not been the most regular about getting something out even every other month!) I talk about one of my visits to the Cathedral archive in Spain.  Archives form the core of most (though not all) historical work.  Every major city or town has some form of archive with the documents and records produced in that place and for Europe, that means documents about the place often going back centuries.

 

Continue reading A Visit to an Archive

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Islam, Pirenne, and Historiography with Clare Gillis

Welcome to 2016!Orange-Duck

I’ve been a bit delinquent with podcasts for a couple of months, but here, finally, is a new one.  This one was inspired a few months back by the youtube comment stream (crazy but true!) on a John Oliver Last Week Tonight clip: the “How is this still a thing?” on Columbus Day.  Don’t ask how I ended up reading that far into the comment stream…in general I’m a fan of John Oliver, but not an avid reader of youtube comments. Continue reading Islam, Pirenne, and Historiography with Clare Gillis

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History Cafe visits the Met with Lauren Mancia – Archeological Reconstruction

Here is the last installment of the History Cafe visits the Smoked Salmon Platter with BagelsMetropolitan museum in New York.  If you didn’t hear the first two, they are all separate topics.  The first two cover the twelfth century, and late-medieval mysticism.  This time, we’re talking about archeological reconstructions.  Most of the archeological sites and many of the ruins we look at are in part repaired or reconstructed and it isn’t always obvious how.  Continue reading History Cafe visits the Met with Lauren Mancia — Archeological Reconstruction

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Medieval Bells in Valencia Spain

This month I have another “live” cast recorded in the city of Black RiceValencia.  Over the course of the podcast, I walk up the main bell tower of the Cathedral of Valencia to listen to the huge bell at the top, nicknamed the “micalet,” strike noon.  Along the way, with a few other bells woven in for good measure, I talk about how large cast bells first came to be used in late Medieval Europe and what they symbolized for the Christians who rang them.  Continue reading Medieval Bells in Valencia Spain

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Anti-Jewish Riots in Valencia, Spain, 1391 with Abigail Agresta

As a follow-up to last month’s shot about violence, this month I haveBamyas an interview with Abigail Agresta talking about a series of anti-Jewish riots that hit numerous cities in Spain in 1391, starting with Seville and spreading across most of Spain.  We focused mostly on the interpretations of one of the worst riots in the city of Valencia.  On the way, we talk quite a bit about how scholars think about anti-Jewish violence in the medieval period, what relationship that violence has to modern anti-semitism, and the changing character of Christianity’s relationship to Judaism. Continue reading Anti-Jewish Riots in Valencia, Spain, 1391 with Abigail Agresta

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