• Introduction: The ‘Germanic’ and its Discontents

    Matthias Friedrich (see profile) , James M. Harland
    Middle Ages, Germans--Social life and customs, Germanic languages, Civilization, Classical, History, Ancient
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    Early Middle Ages, Germanic culture, Late Antiquity, Medieval history
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    Any reader of scholarship on the ancient and early medieval world will be familiar with the term 'Germanic', which is frequently used as a linguistic category, ethnonym, or descriptive identifier for a range of forms of cultural and literary material. But is the term meaningful, useful, or legitimate? The term, frequently applied to peoples, languages, and material culture found in non-Roman north-western and central Europe in classical antiquity, and to these phenomena in the western Roman Empire’s successor states, is often treated as a legitimate, all-encompassing name for the culture of these regions. Its usage is sometimes intended to suggest a shared social identity or ethnic affinity among those who produce these phenomena. Yet, despite decades of critical commentary that have highlighted substantial problems, its dominance of scholarship appears not to have been challenged. This edited volume, which offers contributions ranging from literary and linguistic studies to archaeology, and which span from the first to the sixteenth centuries AD, examines why the term remains so pervasive despite its problems, offering a range of alternative interpretative perspectives on the late and post-Roman worlds.
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    Last Updated:
    2 years ago
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