Friday, April 24, 2015

Johnson on "Medieval Law and Materiality"

Just out in the the American Historical Review 120 (April 2015) is Medieval Law and Materiality: Shipwrecks, Finders, and Property on the Suffolk Coast, ca. 1380-1410, by Tom Johnson.  According to the AHR, Dr. Johnson “recently completed his doctoral thesis, 'Law, Space, and Local Knowledge in Late-Medieval England,' at Birkbeck, University of London. . . .  In October 2015, he will take up a Junior Research Fellowship at Emmanuel College, Cambridge.”

The article commences:
It is now widely recognized that medieval law was more than a system of words and ideas, confined to lawyerly debate and scholarly treatises. Recent scholarship has shown how legal categories and discourses were interwoven with social relations and praxes, mentalities and ideologies, and the operation of the economy. But there is a different dynamic of medieval law that has yet to be explored, namely, the way in which it was implicated in the construction of materiality. Legal discourse in the Middle Ages provided a means of differentiating “what” was matter, what was not, and what attributes it might possess. Thus, medieval legal processes were ontological processes.