Between the Medieval and The Modern

February 13, 2012

Timelines and Reenacting

Filed under: Uncategorized — Frau Magda @ 11:32 pm
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A week ago I was still catching up on my sleep after getting back from my eighth ReenactorFest (aka Military History Fest, but some of us are too used to the old name to change now).

ReenactorFest is the reason I made the move from renaissance faire playtron with an interest in history to 16th century reenactor. I went to my first ReenactorFest with Stephen, Alena, and Tom and a couple others in 2006. Amanda joined us for the trip the next year. And in May 2009 the five of us had the meeting that led to the founding of The Guild of Saint Moritz/Das Geld Fӓhnlein.

Over the past five years, my favorite reenactment events have been timelines. There’s just something about getting to geek out with other reenactors, hearing about what they’re researching, seeing what interesting little bits of material culture they’re collected, and seeing how they’ve chosen to present their little slice of history to the general public. I always come back from ReenactorFest feeling energized and psyched up to dive back into some research.

But one of the coolest things about the trip to ReenactorFest this year was getting to chat with my friend Kass McGann, proprietress of Reconstructing History and her fabulous husband Bob (pictured). Kass gave me a little advance peek into her plans for a Golden Age of Travel dream birthday. I still remember her descriptions of her trip on Cunard back in 2010 (which totally made me want to run out and book a cruise! If only I could arrange to have vacation time and extra money at the same time….).

I spent a lot of time reading Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers myself, and I’m getting ready to finally start watching Downton Abby on Netflix. It’s going to be a whole lotta fun watching her research the 1930s, construct her wardrobe, and plan this trip. I hope to see the occasional blog post from Bob too. I never did find out his verdict on whether or not his new dry cleaners did an acceptable job on his dress shirts. He does wear that tux rather nicely, doesn’t he?

How can you not love a couple who plan to cruise in proper style? Damn, now I wanna reenact the 1930s too.

#ReconstructingHistory, #Cunard


August 27, 2011

Modern Marvels – Weather predictions

Filed under: Uncategorized — Frau Magda @ 10:09 pm
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Every now and then someone (usually my mother) asks me why I’m a reenactor. There are many reasons, but one is because it gives me perspective on modern life. And reminds me how lucky I am to live in this century.


As the East Coast has been preparing all week for the arrival of Hurricane Irene, several times I’ve thought about how blessed I am to live in an age when we get advance warning of severe weather like hurricanes. Irene isn’t due to hit New England until Sunday, but as early as Tuesday I was aware that she was headed our way (and e-mailing the Hauptmann about possible rain dates for Saturday’s workshop). Five days is plenty of time to stock up on food, water, and batteries.

My whole life, we’ve always been able to find out the weather in advance. But we’ve only had these early warning systems for about a century. The National Weather service was founded in 1870. And the National Hurricane Center was founded a little over a hundred years ago.

I’ve been thinking about what it must have been like to have storms just blow out of nowhere, with no warning and no idea if it’s going to be a summer shower or a major blow.

I am blessed to live in the 21st century because we can predict the weather and prepare for it. Knowing the weather five days in advance is a modern marvel.

January 4, 2011

Appreciating Albrecht Dürer

Filed under: Uncategorized — Frau Magda @ 9:37 pm
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For many many years now whenever I see a nice coffee table Art or Art History book on the remainder shelf of a bookstore, I’ve taken it home with me. When I my interest was mainly Elizabethan England, I collected quite a few Hans Holbein books. Now that my focus has shifted from England to Bavaria, I’ve been collecting Albrecht Dürer.

Last year the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston had a small exhibit of images by Albrecht Dürer. I went to see them with a friend in March, and then went back for a quick second solo visit in June, just before the exhibit closed. The MFA exhibit focused on is woodcuts, drawings, and etchings, but Durer also worked in watercolor and oils.  He was recognized as a master when he was still in his twenties.   He became so famous that people would add his famous monogram (his initials) to woodcuts by other artists in order to increase sales.

Hans Sebald Beham woodcut
with AD monogram
Circa 1520

After the visit in March I found a collection of Dürer’s woodcuts on DVD. When the disc arrived (more…)

December 29, 2010

On History

Filed under: Uncategorized — Frau Magda @ 9:06 pm
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Quote of the Day

“History isn’t dead. New facts are constantly being uncovered and published.”

From the fascinating comments thread for this post [Warning! NSFW!] over on Trashy Books, Smart Bitches.  The discussion contains some, um, rather frank discussion of period terms for lady bits and manly bits.  But also some fascinating insights into how authors research and write historical romances, and what readers look for in their historicals.

Oh, and did you know that there is a Historical Novel Society?

 *waits patiently for Christmas cheque from mum to arrive*

December 27, 2010

The Devil’s Stripes

Filed under: Uncategorized — Frau Magda @ 9:44 am
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I got a bee in my bonnet this week, and started drafting some costume guidelines for the Guild.  And as I sorted through the rather extensive collection of woodcuts and portraits on my hard drive, I noticed how very many of them contained stripes

I can’t remember when I added The Devil’s Cloth: a History of Stripes to my Amazon wish list, but I suddenly had the overwhelming urge to read it.  I toddled off to the local Barnes and Nobles, intending to order it.  But what to my wondering eyes should appear, but the in-house book search showed that it was in stock and on the shelf!  In the social sciences section, of all places.  Clutching the book to my breast, I did an internal little dance of glee as I scurried off to the checkout.

It’s a slim volume.  And quite scholastic.  It reads much like the sorts of academic articles I had to slog through back when I was in graduate school. Luckily it isn’t a very long book, a mere 90 pages, not counting the 30 pages of bibliography and footnotes.  But despite the dry academic tone, right from the beginning I knew that he was going to have something useful to say to me.  (more…)

Somewhere between the Medieval and the Modern

Filed under: Uncategorized — Frau Magda @ 2:33 am
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The Magdalen Reading
Rogier Van der Weyden
Before 1438

I’m a child of the modern world. And one of my main challenges as a 16th century reenactor is trying to understand the medieval mind so that I can more fully inhabit my character. (more…)

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