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January 7, 2019 at 8:47 am

Forbes Quotes Shadis on Children in the Middle Ages

Dr. Miriam Shadis, portrait

Dr. Miriam Shadis

Forbes quoted Dr. Miriam Shadis, Associate Professor of History, in a story headlined “What You Didn’t Know About Children In The Middle Ages.”

Over email, Prof. Miriam Shadis of Ohio University told me that the idea of not caring about children in the European Middle Ages has much to do with a more general struggle between “sameness and difference” when talking about the medieval past. Were they like us or were they not like us?

In the case of children, we see their staggering (?) mortality rate and wonder about how emotionally attached a parent could be in the face of it. Then, we put that next to a wide variety of medieval cultural practices that seem so strange to us today, and can easily leap to conclusions.

Prof. Shadis concluded that we “still have a long way to go to fully appreciate the medieval attitude toward childhood because it will always be chronologically and culturally specific.” In other words, the past is simply different from where we are now and it takes a lot of work – and training – to first understand it on its own terms, even before we can arrive at any conclusions. But scholars such as  Barbara HanawaltNicholas OrmeRonald Finucane, and Daniel T. Kline, and many others are leading the way.

Read more in Forbes.

For more on Shadis’s teaching and research interests, visit her History Department profile.

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