The Life and Work of Christine de Pizan, Feminist Writer of the Middle Ages

On August 15, 2017, I published the following post on Book Riot.

The Life and Work of Christine de Pizan, Feminist Writer of the Middle Ages

(British Library, Harvey MS 4431 f. 4).

Women during the Middle Ages tend to be seen as oppressed, robbed of all agency, and constantly under the guardianship of a man. Even though the lives of women during the Middle Ages were more circumvented than the lives of women living in Europe and the United States today, the idea that they lacked control is not entirely true.

Nor is it entirely true that medieval women were prevented from expressing their views in public, or that they were prevented from pursuing artistic careers because of the burdens laid upon them as mothers, wives, and daughters.

In fact, during the Middle Ages there were plenty of women who led independent lives, excelling as politicians, artists, and writers. One of these women was Christine de Pizan, a French renaissance poet who is the first woman in France known to have made her living solely from writing. Christine is also known as one of the earliest feminist writers, publishing protest poems, utopian fiction about a city inhabited only by women, and a celebration of the achievements of Joan of Arc.

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In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.

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10 Things You Need to Know about the Sana’a Pentateuch

On August 4, 2017, I published the following post on Book Riot.

10 Things You Need to Know about the Sana’a Pentateuch

Yemen is a country that somehow feels further away than most. Located on the south-west part of the Arabian Peninsula, news about Yemen only seem to reach us when there is a tragedy.

But Yemen is so much more than the occasional news story from a far away land. Yemen is a country with an old civilization capable of wonderful art.

Book art.

One of the most famous books from Yemen is the so-called Sana’a Pentateuch.

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In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.

10 Things You Need to Know about the Lisbon Bible

On July 27, 2017 I published the following post on Book Riot.

10 Things You Need to Know about the Lisbon Bible

When King Afonso I of Portugal gained recognition for the independence of the Kingdom of Portugal in 1143, there had been a Jewish community in the Iberian Peninsula since at least the second century C.E. After having been expelled from Jerusalem by Emperor Hadrian, Jews found themselves a new home in one of the farthest-most provinces of the Roman Empire. The Jewish culture that developed here is known as Sephardic, from the Judeo-Spanish word for the Iberian Peninsula—Sepharad. A vital part of Sephardic culture was the creation of the Bible, also referred to as the Tanakh by Jews and as the Hebrew Bible by Christians.

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In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.

10 Things You Need to Know about the Golden Haggadah

On April 6, 2017, I published the following post on Book Riot.

10 Things You Need to Know about the Golden Haggadah

The Golden Haggadah miniatures

Next week is Passover, one of the most important holidays in Judaism. Passover celebrates the Exodus, in other words when God liberated the Jews from slavery in Egypt.

On the first night of Passover, family and friends gather round for the Seder when everybody takes turns reading from a book called a haggadah. The haggadah contains the story of the Exodus, intermingled with prayers and songs. The Seder is then concluded with good food and wine.

Because the Torah contains only text, and depictions of God are forbidden, over time the haggadah became the book where Jews interpreted their religion through images. Throughout the centuries, the haggadah also became a way for Jewish families to display their prosperity and wealth.

No other haggadah is a better example of this than the Golden Haggadah.

Here are ten things you need to know about the Golden Haggadah.

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In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.

People of Color in the Middle Ages: A Primer to Promote Diversity in Fantasy

On February 6, 2017, I published the following post on Book Riot.

People of Color in the Middle Ages: A Primer to Promote Diversity in Fantasy

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St. Maurice

A recurring topic of debate within the SFF community is the issue of historical accuracy in medieval fantasy fiction. Claims are repeatedly made that there were no people of color in medieval Europe. Therefore, the argument goes, medieval fantasy fiction with all white, Christian characters is historically accurate. Any inclusion of people of color or other religions is a distortion of history in the name of political correctness.

In actual fact, medieval Europe was a complex society where several different cultures, religions, and linguistic groups coexisted under the umbrella of the omnipresent Catholic Church.

As Jonathan Hsy shows in his book…

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10 Things You Need to Know about the Luttrell Psalter

On September 29, 2016, I published the following post on Book Riot.

10 Things You Need to Know about the Luttrell Psalter

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The Luttrell Psalter is one of the most famous manuscripts from medieval England because of the images that decorate its pages. Some of these images have been interpreted as the most accurate portrayals of medieval rural life while others seem to make no sense at all.

However, if we dig deeper into the layout of the images on the page, the Luttrell Psalter reveals itself to be a magnificent example of political satire and wordplay of the highest level.

Here are ten things you need to know about the Luttrell Psalter and its images.

If you would like to read the entire post, please click here.

In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.

Eurovision Song Contest. A Primer

On Saturday May 14, 2016, Ukraine won the Eurovision Song Contest for the second time. Their winning contribution was the song “1944” performed by Jamala.

This year the Eurovision was broadcast in the US for the first time in the contest’s sixty-year history. Leading up to the Eurovision I published the following introductory post about the contest on Book Riot.

Eurovision Song Contest. A Primer.

Eurovision 2016 logo

With over 200 million viewers, the Eurovision Song Contest is one of the largest TV events in the world, and on May 14 it will be broadcast in the US for the first time.

After sixty years the US will finally be treated to this wonderfully cheesy international music contest that claims to be all about the song but in actual fact is just as much about politics.

If you would like to read the post in its entirety, please click here.

In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.