Inventing the Middle Ages

Inventing the Middle Ages

Norman F. Cantor / Aug 21, 2019

Inventing the Middle Ages The Lives Works and Ideas of the Great Medievalists of the Twentieth CenturyIn this ground breaking work Norman Cantor explains how our current notion of the Middle Ages with its vivid images of wa

  • Title: Inventing the Middle Ages
  • Author: Norman F. Cantor
  • ISBN: 9780688123024
  • Page: 185
  • Format: Paperback
  • The Lives, Works, and Ideas of the Great Medievalists of the Twentieth CenturyIn this ground breaking work, Norman Cantor explains how our current notion of the Middle Ages with its vivid images of wars, tournaments, plagues, saints and kings, knights and ladies was born in the twentieth century The medieval world was not simply excavated through systematic research It hThe Lives, Works, and Ideas of the Great Medievalists of the Twentieth CenturyIn this ground breaking work, Norman Cantor explains how our current notion of the Middle Ages with its vivid images of wars, tournaments, plagues, saints and kings, knights and ladies was born in the twentieth century The medieval world was not simply excavated through systematic research It had to be conceptually created It had to be invented, and this is the story of that invention.Norman Cantor focuses on the lives and works of twenty of the great medievalists of this century, demonstrating how the events of their lives, and their spiritual and emotional outlooks, influenced their interpretations of the Middle Ages Cantor makes their scholarship an intensely personal and passionate exercise, full of color and controversy, displaying the strong personalities and creative minds that brought new insights about the past.A revolution in academic method, this book is a breakthrough to a new way of teaching the humanities and historiography, to be enjoyed by student and general public alike It takes an immense body of learning and transmits it so that readers come away fully informed of the essentials of the subject, perceiving the interconnection of medieval civilization with the culture of the twentieth century and having had a good time while doing it This is a riveting, entertaining, humorous, and learned read, compulsory for anyone concerned about the past and future of Western civilization.

    Inventing the Middle Ages INVENTING THE MIDDLE AGES The Lives, Works, and Ideas of the Great Medievalists of the Twentieth Century In this ground breaking work, Norman Cantor explains how our current notion of the Middle Ages with its vivid images of wars, tournaments, plagues, saints and kings, knights and ladies was born in the twentieth century. Inventing the Flat Earth Columbus and Modern Historians Fulfillment by FBA is a service we offer sellers that lets them store their products in s fulfillment centers, and we directly pack, ship, and provide customer service for these products. Orc The humanoid, non maritime race of orcs that exists in Middle earth is the invention of J R R Tolkien, albeit one which he stated in a letter was influenced by George MacDonald s The Princess and the Goblin.The word is usually capitalised in Tolkien s writing, but not necessarily in other works.

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    About "Norman F. Cantor"

      • Norman F. Cantor

        Born in Winnipeg, Canada, Cantor received his B.A at the University of Manitoba in 1951 He went on to get his master s degree in 1953 from Princeton University and spent a year as a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford He received his doctorate from Princeton in 1957 under the direction of the eminent medievalist Joseph R Strayer.After teaching at Princeton, Cantor moved to Columbia University from 1960 to 1966 He was a Leff professor at Brandeis University until 1970 and then was at SUNY Binghamton until 1976, when he took a position at University of Illinois at Chicago for two years He then went on to New York University, where he was professor of history, sociology and comparative literature After a brief stint as Fulbright Professor at the Tel Aviv University History Department 1987 88 , he devoted himself to working as a full time writer.Although his early work focused on English religious and intellectual history, Cantor s later scholarly interests were far diverse, and he found success writing for a popular audience than he did engaging in narrowly focused original research He did publish one monograph study, based on his graduate thesis, Church, kingship, and lay investiture in England, 1089 1135, which appeared in 1958 and remains an important contribution to the topic of church state relations in medieval England Throughout his career, however, Cantor preferred to write on the broad contours of Western history, and on the history of academic medieval studies in Europe and North America, in particular the lives and careers of eminent medievalists His books generally received mixed reviews in academic journals, but were often popular bestsellers, buoyed by Cantor s fluid, often colloquial, writing style and his lively critiques of persons and ideas, both past and present Cantor was intellectually conservative and expressed deep skepticism about what he saw as methodological fads, particularly Marxism and postmodernism, but also argued for greater inclusion of women and minorities in traditional historical narratives In both his best selling Inventing the Middle Ages and his autobiography, Inventing Norman Cantor, he reflected on his strained relationship over the years with other historians and with academia in general.Upon retirement in 1999, Cantor moved to Miami, Florida, where he continued to work on several books up to the time of his death.


    1. The Middle Ages as we perceive them are the creation of an interactive process in which accumulated learning, the resources and structures of the academic profession, the speculative comparing of medieval and modern worlds, and intellectualization through appropriation of modern theory of society, personality, language, and art have been molded together in the lives, work, and ideas of medievalists and the school and traditions they founded.Whew! Thank goodness we don’t find too many sentences [...]

    2. Having finished this book, I've sat and pondered for a while how best to describe Norman Cantor. Bitter? Egotistical? Historiographically wrongheaded? A raging douchebag? All those terms alone seem somewhat inadequate—perhaps some combination of all of them, with maybe a couple more thrown in. When I came across this book in a secondhand bookstore, I knew I'd heard of it vaguely before, and the premise sounded very interesting—an exploration of the lives of some key twentieth century histori [...]

    3. Ah-HAH! Now I understand why this is important to lover's of fantasy. Cantor's discussion of C.S. "Jack" Lewis and J.R.R.Tolkien (Ronald) .(could that be as in "Weasly?").I dare say Cantor probably would not appriciate or invite as close an inspection of his personal life as he gives C.S. Lewis, accurate or not. I don't disagree with a thing he said, but he has difficulty loosing the snobbish tone he picks others apart with and I wonder if his inclusion of these two is more for noteriety, so he [...]

    4. This is probably the most gossipy 'academic' book I have ever read. Cantor takes as his purpose the outlining of the birth and growth of medieval studies as an academic field and discussing how the main players in each of the phases of its development that he has identified shaped our perception of the middle ages by incorporating their own generational, societal, and personal concerns into what was ostensibly an impartial research of the facts. Thus we have the specific interests and preconcept [...]

    5. Norman Cantor (1991) takes the various approaches to medieval historiography and uses them to illustrate scholarship in general, and from there draws a number of interesting conclusions about modern politics, religion, and social life (Cantor, 410-414). Cantor got in trouble for writing this work. While 80% of this work is brilliant scholarship, the other 20% make the tabloids look like peer-reviewed journals! The subtitle of the book should read “Professor Guilty of Sex Scandal: Cantor Tells [...]

    6. In Inventing the Middle Ages, Cantor manages to pull off what I'd imagine is quite a tricky task - writing a informative, fun, and lively book about historiography. He jumps around through the 20th century, touching on English, French, German, and American medievalists who studied art, literature, kingship, law, and social relations. It's an ambitious book, and it's impressive that it doesn't feel more arbitrary or scatter-shot than it does.Any work like this is going to be heavily subjective, a [...]

    7. Cantor ablely lays out the various schools of thought in 20th century Middle Ages Studies. This book was close to a god send for me. I've been reading almost exclusively out of the Annales school, like a blind man, having no idea that there were other areas to explore (more accurately, what those avenues might be). Cantor uses the personalities and backgrounds of the major midievialists to explain their works. Along the way he offers excellent summations and critiques of the various works. He in [...]

    8. An examination of prominent historians since 1905. The author makes the point that the work done before this date has very little impact and no validity as history according to the modern definition of the term.The introduction is a well done overview of the medieval time period, what we know about it, and how we know it. In the following chapters he breaks up the various schools of thought by their best hist and gives us a little biography.While I think this is a book meant for those interested [...]

    9. Inventing the Middle Ages is a history of history, as well as a raised glass to one's colleagues and ancestors. Norman Cantor surveys the works of the most influential, and even some of the marginal, medievalists of the 20th century. He shows that the mental picture that contemporary people (or at least medievalists) have of the Middle Ages was painstakingly crafted by the meticulous and imaginative yet highly personal labors of a handful of intellectuals. Cantor's approach to his subjects is hi [...]

    10. I realize that this book is not very highly regarded by professional medievalists, but I found it extremely interesting, even though at times the style was rather OMG and I had serious ideological differences with the author, who is quite conservative. But his writing is incredibly engaging, and a picture emerges of the tremendous revolution in medieval studies between 1890 and 1965 that I found extremely compelling and helpful.A few notes on the headnote: obviously the romantic idea of the Mid [...]

    11. Though I've no intention of concentrating on Medieval studies, I found this book very interesting. It was also very easy to understand, though perhaps the author had intended for the book to be understood easily. The concepts in the book, I think, aren't only exclusively applicable to Medieval history (and the invention of its image) but also to other Historical disciplines as well (for example, I think, Orientalism and how 'Othering' creates an image or a "type" for both the 'Othered' and the o [...]

    12. I liked it. The book looks at the different schools of thought and scholarship on the middle ages in each chapter and I felt my enjoyment of the book waxed and waned depending on the chapter and personalities of the scholars being presented. Also, I felt that Cantor's personal opinions got in the way a lot. I'd recommend it to someone who wants a more scholarly and snobbish look at the actually writing of the history on the middle ages but not for someone looking for a book on middle ages.

    13. This book is certainly interesting in places, but Cantor's presentation of the topic is too heavy on gossip and ultimately too meandering to be of interest to more than a few who are already knowledgeable about the historiography of the Middle Ages.

    14. The first time I heard this book referred about was in graduate school, when I took a class on Spanish medieval literature. Our professor mentioned it in class and also included it in her suggested readings. I did not have time to read it then. But, as it’s said in Spanish, nunca es tarde cuando la dicha es buena[it’s never late when the enjoyment is this good]. It is a highly subjective, brash, sharp-tongued and cynical, “brilliant” and “immensely satisfying” (using his own adjectiv [...]

    15. Amazing and entertaining account of the ideas, lives and personalities of the great 20th century medievalists who created our idea of the Middle Ages.Cantor writes in an enagaging, if scattershot, style. The book is at its best when Cantor is talking about the scholars he knew personally, like Stayer, Powicke, Southern and Mommsen. We are also indirectly introduced to Cantor himself and his views on the issues in question.It does have its flaws though, like the disorganized way most of the chapt [...]

    16. This was one of the random books I picked while browsing downpour audiobook sale selection. Seemed like an interesting topic and "the back cover" or more like the short description peaked my interest. I envisioned an overall all-encompassing description of the medieval history and how the view and understanding of the medieval times evolved, but that was only the first chapter of this book. Somewhat.Actually most of this book is what I would call "metahistory" - history of the historians researc [...]

    17. Sorry to say this book failed me in several respects. For one, it's dry as dust and evoked little interest in the various (I think there were 20) academics who supposedly did so much to shape the modern view of the Middle Ages. For another, I wasn't persuaded that these academics, many of whom were colleagues and teachers of the editor, made that much impact even on later generations of academics. Finally, this book demonstrated the mighty disconnect by elite scholastics whose personal agendas t [...]

    18. Informative and eye-opening about how manmade our visions of the past truly are and how alive historical study truly is. I have little background in medievalist studies so much of this flew over my head. However, I can pick up on the over use of outdated Freudian psychoanalysis when the author describes and contemplates the actions of these historians. It's annoying and makes me question much of what is written, however there is no doubt that the insider knowledge the author provides is invaluab [...]

    19. The European Middle Ages have intrigued me since my youth - an interest I think is shared by many young people who become captivated by books and films that delve into the myths and tales of this very rich period in our Western memory. This is not a "history" of the period, it is rather, a thoughtful and sometimes very opinionated collection of essays that take us into the academic research of significant Medievalists Cantor (who is one of my favorite Historians to read) has himself studied and [...]

    20. The book is infuriating and at the same time, indispensable. I completely understand reviewers who detested it, but it seems to me that people who work in the field (I started out in it and departed many moons ago) owe it to themselves to read this and take a stand. For myself, I can only speak knowledgeably about his description of people like Knowles and Gilson, who operated within Catholic boundaries, and I have to say, he is right on the money about the advantages and disadvantages of being [...]

    21. A tell-all gossip book aboutdievalists? Weird concept, but actually very illuminating of the field and engaging too, since everything is going on against the backdrop of 20th century upheavals. Who knew that the groundbreaking scholar of Frederick II assassinated communists in Berlin during the 1930s and would later become the darling of the American left for refusing to sign California's oath of loyalty to democracy in the 1950s?

    22. Enjoyable, informative and fun reading. I especially like his footnotes and suggested Core Bibliography in Medieval Studies and suggested films. Great total immersion and preparation for the next part of his exciting reading journey. Love to know who he trained to carry on his work. Any suggestions?

    23. This book is great. Its a basic, sweeping work for the evolution of Medievalism. It covers everything from Henri Pierenne to Bloch. Read this if you want an introduction to Medievalist theory and evolution in the 20th Century.

    24. One of the first history books I read for fun and I was hooked. Great perspective on different styles of historians.

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