I first came into contact with Jo Laycock’s Imagining Armenia when I received the Manchester University Press catalogue and found it listed on the page after my book.
This is the book about German Orientalism I felt I could not and did not want to write, and I am very grateful to Ian Almond for having produced it.
As the editor notes in his introduction to this collection, the events of 2001 and after have created intense interest in the Crusades and the conflict between Christianity and Islam and the West in the Middle Ages. A wealth of publications has appeared from popular histories to detailed articles in academic journals.
This is a short book on a big topic. It seeks to challenge the standard narrative of European political thought, by offering a sharply revisionist account of its foundations.
The main charateristic of Crusade studies in the post-Runciman era has been expansion and diversification (much like the crusading ‘movement’ itself). One of many new ways into the topic is to focus on how crusades and crusading were received, understood and interpreted by different social groupings.
Contemporary interest in the period of the Crusades has intensified in the last decade or so, partly because of the inflammatory invocations of holy war and jihad made immediately after the traumatic events of 9/11.
Penelope Buckley’s recent monograph, The Alexiad of Anna Komnene sets out to present the first thorough literary study of Anna Komnene’s renowned 12th-century history. As a literature specialist first and foremost, whose background is in English drama and poetry (p. 290), in many ways Buckley succeeds in her brief.
This is a very welcome addition to the study of dress in antiquity. While studies of clothing, bodily adornment and the body language of antiquity are becoming more frequent, a volume that considers the role of religious dress and the religious meanings of dress among Jews and Christians takes this research in new directions.
The Andalusian jurist Abū Bakr al-Ṭurṭūshī (d. 1126) was once asked whether or not it was permissible to eat cheese imported into Alexandria from the Christian territories along the northern coastline of the Mediterranean. The question clearly intrigued al-Ṭurṭūshī, since he went to considerable lengths to research the subject before issuing his final response.
Hannah Barker’s book is a thorough and engaging evaluation of late medieval slave trading practices in the Mediterranean. The tile is taken from the 15th-century recollection and denunciation of an Alexandrian slave market by Felix Fabri, a German friar (p. 209).