Mediaevaliter – or what’s it like behind the looking glass…

When Mediaevaliter started back in 2006, it was destined to be a site that would span together the medieval and renaissance researchers across the world. We are not that many, but we are everywhere. A small joke for a tragic reality which sometimes is at the source of conflict, misunderstanding and schools throwing dirt at each other, not unlike the schools from the medio-aevum. Born as an idea, the site should have been the Facebook for mediaevalists with a solid calendar that would inform everyone of what conferences were to be had wherever you just were in the world.

Bettina and Joël Lonfat started the site in 2006 and with the help of some friends soon it became a reference for conference calls and invitations. The link collection with past 500 items (articles, cabinets, manuscript collections, catalogues etc.) was another important aspect of the site. But soon the contributions stopped coming in and after two years of valid effort, the two authors had to admit defeat. They had simply been too early. Were Mediaevaliter to relaunch today, as a community site with all the commodities Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ have made us appreciate, the picture would be a different one. The experience was important and so rich, that not a single tear was shed (on the author’s side), but some clamour was heard (on the reader’s side), but all that is left today is the name and a little something more.

A way of looking at the world that we usually cannot afford. As a mediaevalist, you are taught to look deeper and not accept any of the platitudes and quick qualifications, that looking beyond the scope of the eyes of European Illumination and Rationalism can bring us closer to the fundamentals of human thought than assisting in a brain scan. And this way of thought is so much more than a site or a couple of researchers. It’s the way of the philosopher and the way of the historian.

Temerity, courage and bold daring are sometimes defined in retrospect.

Today, Joël Lonfat has moved to Zurich – of all places – where as a French speaking Swiss, he still is trying to find the last traces of rationale behind the Swiss German language and worked as an independent scholar and enjoyed the miracle of being a stay-at-home dad, before accepting an Oxford fellowship at Blackfriars where he now continues his research.

Bettina Kreissl Lonfat – after dragging her husband halfway across the country – accepted a post at the Institute of Anatomy at the University of Zurich, actively helping to build a new research centre for evolutionary medicine. But as so often, philosophy will out, not matter how hard we try to keep it in. And so, she effectively is carving her niche in ethics research. Being around mummies and historical human remains and witnessing the research done on these remains, she advocates for an new field of applied ethics in mummy research (and historical human remains).