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

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      Open Library of Humanities

      Open Library of Humanities

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          Abstract

          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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          Most cited references 16

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          The hydrosocial cycle: Defining and mobilizing a relational-dialectical approach to water

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            The Political Economy and Political Ecology of the Hydro-Social Cycle

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              Common Senses

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                2056-6700
                Open Library of Humanities
                Open Library of Humanities
                2056-6700
                05 October 2018
                2018
                : 4
                : 2
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Trinity College Dublin, IE
                10.16995/olh.228
                Copyright: © 2018 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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                Self URI (journal-page): https://olh.openlibhums.org/
                Categories
                New Approaches to Medieval Water Studies

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