Drs. Scott Bruce and Richard Gyug discuss ‘shards’ of antiquity in the Middle Ages

On October 9th Dr. Scott Bruce, who recently joined Fordham’s History Department, sat down with Dr. Richard Gyug, Professor Emeritus of History and Medieval Studies, to discuss Dr. Bruce’s forthcoming article in Speculum, titled “The Dark Age of Herodotus: Shards of a Fugitive History in Early Medieval Europe.”

Dr. Gyug began the conversation with a discussion of fragmentary knowledge and Dr. Bruce’s use of the term ‘shard.’ Dr. Bruce uses shard as a metaphor for material that had been in a larger format but was broken up for pedagogical reasons in Roman antiquity. Dr. Bruce emphasized the power of medieval texts that, in the past, received little attention because they were seen as derivative. But rather than simply compilations drawing upon other authors, the work of medieval authors cutting up others’ texts is “ripe with intentionality.” It is in their reorganization of the material where intentionality can be discovered.

Another topic that Drs. Gyug and Bruce discussed was the distinction between monastic and scholastic learning, and their relation to philology. The preoccupation with Greek and classical civilization, and the question of when “true knowledge became found again” brought the discussion to the reemergence of antiquities in modern society. Referencing a moment of self-awareness among scholars, Dr. Scott Bruce reminded the audience that historians are all involved in the act of picking and choosing what we need to create a meaningful history. During the Q&A, Dr. Grace Shen provided insight into the editorial process within her own work in Chinese history, to expand the discussion of editorial history past Western Europe.

Drs. Richard Gyug and Scott Bruce, discussing a text by an Italian priest of a prayer first transcribed in Greek with Latin letters, followed by the complete Latin version.

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