Can These Bones Come to Life? Insights from Reconstruction, Reenactment, and Re-Creation
Understanding the past takes more forms than historiography. Since 2005, professional and amateur scholars have come together at the annual International Medieval Congress in Western Michigan University to discuss the role re-construction, re-enactment, and re-creation can play in “breathing life into these dry bones” to deepen our knowledge of the past. Under the sponsorship of the Higgins Armory Museum and the Oakeshott Institute, presenters have looked at subjects ranging from ore smelting to equitation to the use of recreation and reenactment in the classroom. A special focus of these sessions has always been the critical examination of European fencing books, or Fechtbucher-not only for the sake of reconstructing the arts found therein, but also for what these sources can tell us about intellectual, cultural, and social history. Thanks in part to editors’ Mondschein and Cramer’s work, the study of fencing books has rapidly become a recognized field of academic study. This volume brings together eight papers examining the study and reconstruction of medieval and early modern fight-books and related subjects. The subjects covered range from manuscript studies to philology, from Aristotelian physics to martial musicality, from medieval textuality to women and warfare. It will be of interest not only to professional historians, musicologists, literary scholars, and art historians, but also to the vast army of impassioned and enthusiastic practitioners who endeavor, as a labor of love, to make the past come to life.