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      Medieval Water Studies: Past, Present and Promise

      , 1 , 2

      Open Library of Humanities

      Open Library of Humanities

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          Abstract

          The articles in this Special Collection engage directly with the realities of water as they simultaneously explore its intellectual potential in various genres of medieval writing, from crusade chronicles to medieval romance. In this way they shed new light not only on the literature and history they explore but also on medieval conceptions of water more generally, paving the way for a new approach to medieval water studies. In assembling this Collection, it was the intention of the editors to reflect on the best next steps for the study of water in the Middle Ages. A new medieval water studies should be novel, critical, self-aware, global and above all inclusive. Water is more than a subject of academic research, a catalogue of tropes and idioms to be described. As fields such as ecocriticism, environmental history, geography, anthropology, archaeology and water governance have demonstrated, water is always entangled with a larger ecology. The articles in this Special Collection reveal a water that is a puzzle, but also a cipher for a variety of nuanced readings and inquiries. An overly instrumentalist and scientific mentality leads to water being studied as a passive and malleable resource, but this trend has also affected cultural and historical inquiry.

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          Most cited references 9

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          Lording it over the Goddess. Water, Gender and Human-Environmental Relations

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            Medieval Water Energies: Philosophical, Hydro-Social, and Intellectual

            This essay argues for the consideration of energy and an energy-based humanities model in the study of water in the Middle Ages. It also proposes that ‘energy’, when discussed in the context of the Middle Ages, is in fact a study of ‘energies’, derived from technology, material culture, and intellectual culture in equal measure. It proposes three genres of medieval water energy as a model for the multi-valent study of the energy politics underpinning medieval society: the philosophical, the hydro-social, and the intellectual. The essay surveys approaches to medieval water history to propose a new approach, and makes an argument for the reimagination of water as an entity of energy with dimensions flowing beyond the history of science and social history dimensions of water history. Medieval thought did not conceive of water as wholly material or wholly abstract, but as a part of a larger world-system spanning the material and spiritual. Just as medieval people drew on a tiny percentage of gravity flow through hydraulics, so too did the water of medieval intellectual culture provide motive power through the infusion of divine power, setting the world-machine in process. A new approach to medieval water studies follows Imre Szeman’s description of energy as an underpinning force within society, shaping its discourses, dialogues, norms, and political ecologies. For the Middle Ages, this model must account for a differing intellectual culture encompassing religious, philosophical, and technical models of water.
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              Premodern Streams of Thought in Twenty-First-Century Water Management

               R A Morgan,  J Smith (2013)
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                2056-6700
                Open Library of Humanities
                Open Library of Humanities
                2056-6700
                06 May 2019
                2019
                : 5
                : 1
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, IE
                [2 ]City, University of London, UK
                10.16995/olh.443
                Copyright: © 2019 The Author(s)

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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                New approaches to medieval water studies

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