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31 May, 2016

Robin Wharton reviews: Medieval Hackers & Medieval Robots

The editors of Medievally Speaking originally referred these books to my attention for individual reviews. As I looked over both volumes, and thought about why the editors matched me with them, I realized a double review addressing the combined relevance of these two books within contemporary media and science and technology studies, as well as medieval and medievalism studies might be more useful—and ultimately more persuasive. As a medievalist who now works primarily in multimodal composition, media studies, and the digital humanities, I see these books as responding to a desperate need for more temporal and cultural breadth in these and related fields. In Medieval Hackers Kathleen Kennedy “considers how the medieval norms of commonness, openness, and freedom of information are still present in our textual culture in the culture of computer hackers” (2). E.R. Truitt, in Medieval Robots, “excavat[es] the complex history of medieval automata,” in order to “begin to understand the interdependence of science, technology, and the imagination in medieval culture and between medieval culture and modernity” (1). Together, these two scholars demonstrate the value of examining current technological issues within a historical context that begins before the eighteenth-century and includes histories of the global East and South. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE