Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Dating Advice from Medieval Historians

by J J Cohen

No, that title is not a joke.

[h/t Bonnie Wheeler]


Karl Steel said...

Oh, that's hilarious. Bonnie's always bringing the good things to our lives.

I like this Q&A especially:
The girl I recently started dating assumes we're going to spend all our evenings together, but I need space to hang out with my friends without her. Is this reasonable?
Many a medieval feudal relationship collapsed when a vassal didn't fulfill his requirement to counsel and aid his lord. And you certainly don't want to end up known as a contumacious vassal among your friends.

Now, as a medieval literature person, I would have answered this question by reference to Yvain and Erec and Enide. I would have imagined Erec and/or Yvain asking the question, with a point-counterpoint between the pro-hangout with friends side (Gawain & Enide: I would imagine Gawain as a raging frat boy and Enide as more reasonable) and the anti-hangout (Laudine & Enide's cousin from the Joie de la Cort episode). And, being a medieval literature person, I've let the answer remain undecidable.

I'm reminded of a MPPPPHHH (<-- noise here to obscure the innocent) father-in-law (not mine), an annoying Republican who has suggested several times that I use my specialized medieval knowledge to get ahead in business. His advice always struck me as a bit underpants gnomey, but now I see that being a medievalist CAN set a path to profit. And it's better to be win at love than business, don't you think?

(incidentally, I met my present wife on Nerve some 6 years ago. I have no complaints, but maybe that's because, as a medievalist, I have all the answers)

anna klosowska said...

I think all dating questions can be answered with the aid of medieval history (especially the gruesome bits-just think about the myriad ways to heal after an unfortunate breakup!), and I believe a love advice column attached to ITM has long been overdue. We've been perhaps too solicitous of Tiny's happiness and neglecting others'.