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Getting Medieval on Steven Pinker

Violence and Medieval England

Sara M. Butler

Steven Pinker’s view of the Middle Ages as an era of hyperviolence, in which governments engaged in democide and civilians lived in terror, is not supported by the evidence. By analyzing Pinker’s sources for the medieval period and providing a clearer understanding of the difficulties involved in extracting statistical data from medieval England’s criminal justice system, this article hopes to demonstrate that Pinker’s thesis about the civilizing process is not tenable. While the medieval world was violent, we cannot definitively say just how violent it actually was, and whether it was any more or less violent than we are today.

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“Moi quand on dit qu’une femme ment, eh bien, elle ment”

The Administration of Rape in Twenty-First Century France and England & Wales

Nicole Fayard and Yvette Rocheron

In France and England & Wales rape is now understood as a diverse social phenomenon. It is reported, counted, categorized, and dealt with by the authorities as a serious crime. Yet, despite notable initiatives intended to improve the conviction of alleged perpetrators, major hurdles for alleged victims remain. We show how rape is defined and prosecuted in France and England & Wales, and we use statistical analyzes to understand the scale of the problem, still largely unknown. We also discuss recent controversies (attrition rate;loicadre), exploring a culture of scepticism among police and judiciary that causes complaints to be dropped or downgraded to lesser crimes. Our interview material from France explores two difficulties: When is rape not rape? Did the alleged victim consent to the penetration? Finally we analyze the paradoxical role played by voluntary victim support groups that resist but also collude with a complex regulatory system that fails those who do not speak in legitimate codes.

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Place of Birth and Concepts of Wellbeing

An Analysis from Two Ethnographic Studies of Midwifery Units in England

Christine McCourt, Juliet Rayment, Susanna Rance and Jane Sandall

This article is based on analysis of a series of ethnographic case studies of midwifery units in England. Midwifery units1 are spaces that were developed to provide more home-like and less medically oriented care for birth that would support physiological processes of labour, women’s comfort and a positive experience of birth for women and their families. They are run by midwives, either on a hospital site alongside an obstetric unit (Alongside Midwifery Unit – AMU) or a freestanding unit away from an obstetric unit (Freestanding Midwifery Unit – FMU). Midwifery units have been designed and intended specifically as locations of wellbeing and although the meaning of the term is used very loosely in public discourse, this claim is supported by a large epidemiological study, which found that they provide safe care for babies while reducing use of medical interventions and with better health outcomes for the women. Our research indicated that midwifery units function as a protected space, one which uses domestic features as metaphors of home in order to promote a sense of wellbeing and to re-normalise concepts of birth, which had become inhabited by medical models and a preoccupation with risk. However, we argue that this protected space has a function for midwives as well as for birthing women. Midwifery units are intended to support midwives’ wellbeing following decades of professional struggles to maintain autonomy, midwife-led care and a professional identity founded on supporting normal, healthy birth. This development, which is focused on place of birth rather than other aspects of maternity care such as continuity, shows potential for restoring wellbeing on individual, professional and community levels, through improving rates of normal physiological birth and improving experiences of providing and receiving care. Nevertheless, this very focus also poses challenges for health service providers attempting to provide a ‘social model of care’ within an institutional context.

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Jeanette Edwards

Local family historians in the north of England are not only intent on "finding" their ancestors but in adding "flesh" to the bones of genealogy. Many are as interested in the social life of their ancestors as they are in their family tree or pedigree and, through their research, they excavate particular social and classed histories which combine discourses of land, labor, love, and loss. As well as deepening a sense of the workings of class in England, their research renders class identity more contingent than other contemporary public and media-driven versions. This article argues that family history and genealogical research destabilizes readings of English class identities as fixed, bounded and inescapable by revealing the vagaries of fate and chance and by making explicit other relevant and overlapping social distinctions in the provenance of one's ancestors.

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The Way a Language Changes

How Historical Semantics Helps Us to Understand the Emergence of the English Exchequer

Ulla Kypta

The article argues that it is not only useful to study the changing meanings of concepts, but also to analyze the way these concepts changed their meaning over time. As a case study, I analyze the transformation of the language of the earliest surviving accounts of the yearly auditing process in England, the pipe rolls from the twelfth century. The language changed gradually and continually, without guidance or a plan. It is highly likely that the language was learned while the pipe rolls were written. Thus, the clerks could easily close their circle. This led to a strong sense of belonging and self-consciousness, which can be affirmed by other contemporary sources, and which laid the foundation for the accounting procedures that became a long-lasting organization.

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Inaudito exemplo

The Abduction of Romsey’s Abbess

Linda D. Brown

The abduction in 1160 of Romsey’s abbess Marie, daughter of King Stephen and Queen Matilda of England, attracted considerable attention in England and Northern Europe. Medieval chroniclers theorized about those who had arranged the raptus, emphasizing that they had targeted a holy bride of Christ. At the scandal’s crux was the altered status of the abbess who had unexpectedly become sole heir to her family’s lands, wealth, and titles. This transformation occurred for Marie when the last of her family died in the waning months of 1159. With astonishing speed, Marie transitioned from her role as a high-status abbess to one of heiress-countess. This article examines the evidence concerning the abduction’s backstory, the resulting marriage, and the aftermath of Marie’s nine years as a married countess. It presents Marie in light of her ability to adapt to and exploit the changing political, social, and cultural landscapes that she inhabited.

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Tweens as Technofeminists

Exploring Girlhood Identity in Technology Camp

Jen England and Robert Cannella

In this article we discuss how the Girlhood Remixed Technology Camp (GRTC) empowers tween girls to challenge sexist and misogynistic media portrayals of girlhood by constructing their own digital identities. Drawing from campers’ projects and blogs, we foreground two important outcomes of the camp: the development of technological, critical, and rhetorical literacies as girls pursued their own technology-related goals; and the crafting of powerful, positive articulations of girlhood through girls’ production of new media and technologies. We conclude with further considerations for the development of girls’ technology camps.

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Strategic Secularism

Bible Advocacy in England

Matthew Engelke

This article focuses on the work of Bible 'advocacy' carried out by the Bible Society of England and Wales. It describes how the Society's first 'Campaign to Culture', held in Nottingham, highlighted the Bible as something that a secular public might recognize as a relevant and important source of ideas and issues, quite apart from its religious significance. As the author suggests, these campaigns can be seen as part of a strategic secularism—the process by which religious actors work to incorporate secular formations into religious agendas.

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Introduction

Literacies in Early Modern England

Eve Rachele Sanders and Margaret W. Ferguson

Literacy, in the sixteenth century, was construed as multiple, variable, subject to redefinition by edict from above and by practices from below. The importance of regulating changes in skills and behaviors, in particular, increased reading of the Bible, was hotly debated as the Reformation got underway. In England, the Tudor state intervened erratically, first encouraging the reading of the English Bible for all, then forbidding its reading to all but a privileged few. In 1538, every parish church was required by a royal injunction to purchase an English Bible and place it in the choir. The Great Bible, published in 1540 with a new preface by the Archbishop of Canterbury, stressed the ideal of an England peopled by ‘all manner’ of readers of Scripture in the vernacular: ‘Here may all manner of persons, men, women, young, old, learned, unlearned, rich, poor, priests, laymen, lords, ladies, officers, tenants, and mean men, virgins, wives, widows, lawyers, merchants, artificers, husbandmen, and all manner of persons, of what estate or condition soever they be, may in this book learn all things’. Only three years later, however, in 1543, the selfvauntingly named Act for the Advancement of True Religion and for the Abolishment of the Contrary attempted to undo that opening of the floodgates by lowering them again to allow for only a trickle of elite readers to have access to Scripture. Reading the Bible in English was prohibited outright for women, artificers, journeymen, serving-men of the rank of yeoman and under, husbandmen and laborers; noblewomen and gentlewomen could read the Bible silently; only noblemen, gentlemen, and merchants were permitted to read it aloud to others.

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Working Together

Tracing the Making of Public Art as Part of Regeneration Practice

Julie Crawshaw

A pragmatist study of art in regeneration, this article contributes a nuanced understanding of how art works as an ingredient of regeneration practice. To ameliorate post-industrial decline, commissioning art has become part of the work of the planner. In planning studies art is usually accounted for as completed artworks in relation to socio-economic agendas. But what of the effects produced in their making? Inspired by Actor-Network Theory, by tracing associations between human and non-human actors I reveal art as part of the translation process of regeneration. Drawing on a one-year ethnography of a regeneration office in North East England, I describe how art mediates collaboration with and in planning practice as a catalyst for professionals to re-consider their professional remit anew.