Burn After Reading

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Over the past few days,  I have been at the University of Tuebingen with a lovely group of scholars and students, part of an Anglo-German project on Memory and Power in late antiquity and the early middle ages. The idea behind the project is to try to understand the compromises made by the writers of our period as they attempted to make peace with a difficult past, or to idealise the past in a way that would guide, inspire, or sometimes deceive the audience for whom they were writing.  Often, medieval writers were not entirley reliable, and medieval librarians had very little information to go on as they tried to assess how reliable a writer actually was. We modern historians are not always much better off.

One of the guiding ideas behind the memory and power project is that the Christian writers of the period from 250-1150 AD often found…

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