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Belief and the shaping of medieval society
Author: Paul Fouracre

In early Christianity it was established that every church should have a light burning on the altar at all times. This unique study is about the material and social consequences of maintaining eternal lights. Never before has the subject been treated as important to the political economy, nor has it been explored over the whole medieval period. The cost of maintaining the lights meant that only the elite could afford to do so, and peasants were organised to provide funds for the lights. Later, as society became wealthier, a wider range of people became providers and organised themselves into guilds or confraternities in support of the church and with the particular aim of commemorating their members. Power over the lights, and over individual churches, shifted to these organisations, and, when belief in the efficacy of burning lights was challenged in the Reformation, it was such people who were capable of bringing the practice of burning eternal lights to a sudden and sometimes violent end. The study concludes that the practice of keeping a flame on the altar did indeed have important material and cultural consequences. Because it examines the relation between belief and materiality at every turn, the book also works as a guide to the way in which Western Europe developed, from the decline of the Roman Empire to the advent of the Protestant state.

Elite practice
Paul Fouracre

from Provence. On another occasion when Jumièges was looking for lighting fuel, a whale was washed up near the monastery. From the blubber the monks made 30 modii of oil. 44 This is the only time we hear of whale oil being substituted for olive oil. Despite its availability in northern coastal areas, whale oil was clearly not a commonly accepted substitute, even though there is no evidence of its use being forbidden in the way that the Papacy was to stop the Icelanders substituting berry-juice for wine in the Eucharist. 45 The monks of Jumièges clearly preferred

in Eternal light and earthly concerns
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Paul Fouracre

of Israel to bring the purest olive oil so that the lamp before the tabernacle might burn at all times. Aaron, the brother of Moses, and the sons of Aaron were charged with collecting the oil and maintaining the flame. This charge would remain amongst the Israelites for all time. 3 In Judaism keeping a flame burning before the tabernacle became essential practice, and down to the present synagogues have a perpetual light in the form of a flame in front of the ark in which the scrolls of the Torah are kept. In Judaism it was essential to have lamps of sufficient

in Eternal light and earthly concerns
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Paul Fouracre

vineyards, and references to olives, to oil and to oil lamps are frequent in both Old and New Testaments. But when beliefs and practices that had evolved in the Mediterranean environment spread beyond the Mediterranean to lands without olives and without vines, no allowance was made. Iceland did not even have the bees to make the wax that could be used instead of olive oil in religious ceremonies that required the burning of lights, and chrism could not be mixed without olive oil. Icelanders did, as we have just seen, talk about substituting local products such as beer

in Eternal light and earthly concerns
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Paul Fouracre

Constantine’s giving was at a pace and across a range impossible to match, for not only did political power become fragmented over the course of the fifth and sixth centuries but also supplies of oil, the preferred lighting fuel, began to dry up. Other forms of oil such as nut oil in the Basque country, or whale oil in Normandy, or even tallow, could be used for lighting the church in general, but it was specifically olive oil that was required for the light before the tabernacle. Apart from the Mosaic injunction to use it, olive oil was preferred for its slow and near

in Eternal light and earthly concerns
Nataša Gregorič Bon

material flows is reciprocal and Naso in turn sends Frosina olive oil, olives, oranges and mandarins via their relatives. Such reciprocity is typical between geographically distant couples and a common means to sustain a ‘connection’, which Drotbohm (2009: 144) suggests is a less emotional and more technical way of keeping in touch than is maintaining ‘relations’, which has an implication of obligation and responsibility towards those who stay behind. Despite the fact that ‘things’, such as furniture, food and other goods, cross the border officially, and that the

in Migrating borders and moving times
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Material methods for exploring food and cooking
Sarah Marie Hall, Laura Pottinger, Megan Blake, Susanna Mills, Christian Reynolds, and Wendy Wrieden

in olive oil, the course leader tells a story about her grandmother, who had a bad fall at eighty-seven, but didn't break any bones, which she attributed to her diet with lots of olive oil and fish. Rather than framing the classes (or the research) in terms of healthy eating, little nuggets of info – ‘gram flour is full of iron’, or ‘plenty of protein in borlotti beans’ – are relayed to the group conversationally, as and when the occasion arises. And information about the healthiness of different ingredients is delivered in the same way as advice about thrift or

in Mundane Methods
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The birth and growth of major religions

What do we really know of the origins and first spread of major monotheistic religions, once we strip away the myths and later traditions that developed? Creating God uses modern critical historical scholarship alongside archaeology to describe the times and places which saw the emergence of Mormonism, Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism. What was the social, economic and political world in which they began, and the framework of other contemporary religious movements in which they could flourish? What was their historical background and what was their geographical setting? Written from a secular viewpoint, the author reveals where a scholarly approach to the history of religions may diverge from the assumptions of faith, and shows the value of comparing different movements and different histories in one account. Throughout history, many individuals have believed that they were in direct contact with a divine source, receiving direction to spread a religious message. A few persuaded others and developed a following, and a small minority of such movements grew into full religions. In time, these movements developed, augmented, selected and invented their own narratives of foundation: stories about the founders’ lives and the early stages in which their religious group emerged. Modern critical scholarship helps us understand something of how a successful religion could emerge, thrive and begin the journey to become a world faith. This book presents a narrative to interest, challenge and intrigue readers interested in the beginnings of some of the most powerful ideas that have influenced human history.

Why some of us push our bodies to extremes
Author: Jenny Valentish

This book is about people willing to do the sorts of things that most others couldn't, shouldn't or wouldn't. While there are all sorts of reasons why people consume substances, the author notes that there are those who treat drug-taking like an Olympic sport, exploring their capacity to really push their bodies, and frankly, wanting to be the best at it. Extreme athletes, death-defiers and those who perform incredible stunts of endurance have been celebrated throughout history. The most successful athletes can compartmentalise, storing away worry and pain in a part of their brain so it does not interfere with their performance. The brain releases testosterone, for a boost of strength and confidence. In bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism (BDSM) play, the endogenous opioid system responds to the pain, releasing opioid peptides. It seems some of us are more wired than others to activate those ancient biological systems, be it through being caned in a dungeon during a lunchbreak or climbing a sheer rock wall at the weekend. Back in 1990, sociologist Stephen Lyng coined the term 'edgework', now frequently used in BDSM circles, as 'voluntary pursuit of activities that involve a high potential for death, physical injury, or spiritual harm'.

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Author: Rachael Gilmour

At a time when monolingualist claims for the importance of ‘speaking English’ to the national order continue louder than ever, even as language diversity is increasingly part of contemporary British life, literature becomes a space to consider the terms of linguistic belonging. Bad English examines writers including Tom Leonard, James Kelman, Suhayl Saadi, Raman Mundair, Daljit Nagra, Xiaolu Guo, Leila Aboulela, Brian Chikwava, and Caroline Bergvall, who engage multilingually, experimentally, playfully, and ambivalently with English’s power. Considering their invented vernaculars and mixed idioms, their dramatised scenes of languaging – languages learned or lost, acts of translation, scenes of speaking, the exposure and racialised visibility of accent – it argues for a growing field of contemporary literature in Britain pre-eminently concerned with language’s power dynamics, its aesthetic potentialities, and its prosthetic strangeness. Drawing on insights from applied linguistics and translation studies as well as literary scholarship, Bad English explores contemporary arguments about language in Britain – in debates about citizenship or education, in the media or on Twitter, in Home Office policy and asylum legislation – as well as the ways they are taken up in literature. It uncovers both an antagonistic and a productive interplay between language politics and literary form, tracing writers’ articulation of linguistic alienation and ambivalence, as well as the productivity and making-new of radical language practices. Doing so, it refutes the view that language difference and language politics are somehow irrelevant to contemporary Britain and instead argues for their constitutive centrality to the work of novelists and poets whose inside/outside relationship to English in its institutionalised forms is the generative force of their writing.