Review by Choice Review
Updating Dictionary of the Middle Ages, ed. by J.R. Strayer (13v., 1982-89), this eagerly awaited supplement addresses the inadequacies of the original for medieval studies in the 21st century. Dramatic changes have occurred in the field since DMA was planned: research produced new interpretations; the medieval world beyond northwest Europe came under increased scrutiny; and topics originally neglected are now objects of serious scholarly interest. The range of topics is broad and rich--from treatments of people, places, and practices (St. Clare, Bedoins, Gratian, Bobbio, notaries, tonsure) and entire subdisciplines and genres (archaeology, domestic architecture, gothic art, cartography, biography) to a wealth of very current topics (race, charity, childhood, gynecology, hygiene) and historiographical issues (medieval studies, medievalism). Coverage of complex topics (sexuality, pornography) is nuanced, yet written in language accessible to all levels of undergraduates as well as more advanced inquirers. Articles by today's most prominent scholars are signed and substantial. Even briefer articles run more than 500 words. The longer articles (e.g., "Poverty," "Medieval Studies") could stand alone as significant overviews. All contain excellent, current bibliographies, often extensive and sometimes annotated. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. General and academic readers. S. F. Roberts Yale University
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review
The 13-volume Dictionary of the Middle Ages0 (DMA), begun in the 1970s and published 1982-89, remains the only successful comprehensive encyclopedia of the medieval world. More recent, specialized reference sources complement DMA primarily because they incorporate a global, interdisciplinary approach to medieval studies that transcends traditional geographic limitations equating the Middle Ages with western Europe. Containing 320 articles, this is the first supplement to DMA, and its designation, Supplement 1,0 suggests that future supplements might be forthcoming. Since DMA was completed, new trends have emerged in both medieval scholarship and popular interest. Paul Freedman, of Yale University, addresses these trends in his Supplement0 article Medieval Studies.0 Among the changes, he notes the development of feminist scholarship and "a growing sophistication in investigating voices not readily transmitted through official sources." The Supplement0 is intended to address the "problems and lacunae of the original Dictionary,0 " including a bias toward northwestern Europe and the omission of topics that are now "required reading," such as gender, race, ecology, and sexuality. Articles on gender and sexuality include Abortion, Gynecology, Pornography, Sexuality0 , and Widowhood.0 Medievalism0 examines fascination with the Middle Ages from Spenser's Faerie Queen0 to the Society for Creative Anachronism and the Lord of the Rings0 film trilogy. Several articles debunk popular misconceptions ( Chastity belt,0 Pope Joan0 ). Readers interested in the Middle East will find articles such as Hagiography, Islamic; Ottoman art and architecture; Persian language0 ; and Hebrew language0 supplementing articles in DMA on Islam; Jews in Europe; Mohammad; Sects, Islamic0 ; and Sephardim.0 The index indicates coverage of Islam and Judaism within many additional Supple0 ment articles. Historical revisionism and its attention to subjects ignored by the traditional academy resulted in articles on Archaeology; Architecture, Domestic;0 Ovens; Pilgrim souvenirs; Poverty;0 and Religion, Popular.0 Supplement0 articles sampled ranged from one or two pages ( Astral magic, Uppsala,0 Pollution and taboo0 ) to more than 10 pages in length ( Gothic architecture, Women,0 Paganism and pagan gods0 ). Most include bibliographies with ample evidence of up-to-date research, with many citations published in 2000 or later and some as recently as 2003. For example, the article Women0 includes references to 28 primary and secondary sources, with 3 of the primary sources and 20 of the secondary sources published after the DMA was completed. While current research and references are among the Supplement'0 s strengths, the contributors do not neglect important primary and older secondary sources. Etiquette and manners 0 includes as a primary work Christine de Pisan's The Treasure of the City of Ladies; or, the Book of the Three Virtues0 ; the article on Gothic Architecture0 includes a reference to Erwin Panofsky's 1946 classic, Abbot Suger on the Abbey Church of St.- Denis and Its Art Treasures0 . The Supplement 0 is the work of scholars who are at least as prominent as those who contributed to the DMA. They include John Block Friedman, editor of Trade, Travel, and Exploration in the Middle Ages: An Encyclopedia 0 (Garland, 2000); Pam Crabtree, editor of Medieval Archaeology: An Encyclopedia 0 (Garland, 2000); and Stephen Murray, author of three university press books on gothic cathedrals and creator of a virtual tour of Amiens Cathedral http://www.arch.columbia.edu/DDL/projects/amiens/. The premier medieval studies institutions at the University of Toronto, Princeton, and Yale are represented; editor William Chester Jordan, of Princeton, contributed more than 30 articles. The 100 black-and-white illustrations and sidebars are thoughtfully selected and carefully reproduced. Intriguing examples include a photo of trinkets and badges sold as souvenirs at the shrine of Thomas Becket at Canterbury ( Pilgrim souvenirs0 ), a movie still of orc warriors from The Fellowship of the Ring0 ( Medievalism0 ), and a fifteenth-century German woodcut depicting the birth of the Antichrist by cesarean section ( Childbirth and infancy0 ). Sidebars include excerpts from primary sources, such as "A Cure for an Intermittent Fever" from an English common place book compiled in the 1470s (in the entry Religion, popular0 ). The index is not cumulative; it pertains only to the Sup0 plement and does not include articles in DMA. However, individual entries include see also0 references to both DMA and other Supplement0 articles. While DMA remains after 15 years the ultimate medieval encyclopedia, its Supplement0 brings freshness and liveliness to the period. It is, however, a static resource, designed to endure on the shelf. None of the articles examined included references to Web sites, and only one passing reference to Internet resources was found, in the article Medieval Studies0 . Scholars, students, and nonspecialists interested in medieval studies will want to explore Web resources that provide primary sources, maps, collections of further Web links, and myriad other resources. Two excellent Web sites, both active for approximately 10 years, are the Orb: Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies http://www.the-orb.net/index.html, which recently moved to a new home at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York; and the Labyrinth: Resources for Medieval Studies, sponsored by Georgetown University http://labyrinth.georgetown.edu/. The Orb is an online encyclopedia with peer-reviewed articles written by medievalists, resources for teachers, and a section of medieval resources for nonspecialists. The Labyrinth 0 is a portal providing access to primary texts, databases, images, articles, and other resources worldwide, including some pedagogical materials.\b \b0 Scholars and nonspecialists interested in the Middle Ages will enjoy browsing the DMA's first supplement for research trends, suggested readings, and illustrations that have not become overly familiar through repeated publication. The Supplement0 is essential for all collections with the DMA; it may even inspire readers to revisit the original set. And perhaps they will not have to wait 15 years for another supplement. --Ray Olson Copyright 2004 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.