You know you’re a medievalist when…

… you find that you’re referencing Patrick Geary* when trying to comfort another medievalist after a messy break-up. <sigh>

Sorry, there will be more substantive content soon. This last week has mostly been interviews and spare time has been hard to find.


* The cognitive psychology bit in Phantoms of Remembrance about how human memory constantly over-writes the previous stored version of a memory with the recalled one, since you ask.

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13 responses to “You know you’re a medievalist when…

  1. …you’re in bed, and you realise that because it’s Advent, your next activity would have earned you penance in the Carolingian period.

  2. You program your Outlook calendar to remind you of key dates like Michaelmas, Candlemas, and the Feast of the Nativity St John the Baptist…

  3. I hadn’t meant to start a meme but I’m quite happy with the results so far, any more?

  4. … “Never mind, I’ll send some of my peasants over to humiliate Saint [?] until he/she learns not to do that to you”?

  5. Those who might be interested in the psychology bit of this may now see this article in the Smithsonian Magazine for May 2010. I am quite confused by this, though, since as I say I learnt that this was how memory works from Geary’s book which is now sixteen years old, so how it can be drawn, as here, to an experiment of contested significance of eleven years ago, I don’t quite see. But, in the alleged words of Emperor Joseph II, “well, there it is”.

    • Thanks for the interesting link Jon. Something in particular that confuses you?

      • Well, just that this supposedly new and contested finding was being asserted as medical gospel by Geary five years before any of the work on which the article reports was done. I don’t know now whether to assume that the Smithsonian Magazine, Geary or Dr Nader are being slapdash, but someone presumably is or was.

        • Aha. I see. Well I think that particular apparent inconsistency probably stems from the disciplinary differences between cognitive psychology and neuroscience, rather than anyone being ‘slapdash’ necessarily. The one is a more hermeneutic discipline, which observes behavioural phenomena in order to describe & explain them, and the other a more ‘mechanical’ one which builds from the blocks of biochemical minutiae (A communicates to B, causing release of C, which affects D in E manner) to the whole picture of a behavioural outcome. In so far as Nader’s work is controversial among neuroscientists, it seems likely to be because it seems to start from the minutiae but take a giant leap to the behaviour while ignoring a gazillion intermediate steps which the discipline would normally require to be demonstrated experimentally; even though his conclusions sound relatively similar (but not precisely identical) to what the cognitive psychologists have already asumed from the hermeneutic angle. Does that clarify at all?

          • Ah right, I had forgotten what a huge field this presumably is. It’s all brain science to me! Nice to see that the two things can match up, in that case, but are they reading each others’ work… ?

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