Evgenii E. Savitskii

Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow


The article deals with the place of anachronisms in the debates about how medieval history should be studied in the late XX and early XXI cent. As an example were taken works of American historians known as new medievalists, and in particular two aspects discussed there: rethinking the notion of alterity, which is related to the definition of something as queer and especially as preposterous. In this last notion are related in a very particular way the meanings of a temporal (absence of) order, of unnaturalness, of disturbing hierarchies, absurdity, monstruosity, folly, madness. So the question of a wrong temporal order, of anachronism, through this notion is related to a range of other issues, which are of importance for historical and theoretical research at the turn of the XX-XXI cent. In the article the understanding of alterity by the new medievalists is related to a broader context of the earlier discussions about the specific character of the Middle Ages as an epoch and about the possibility of anachronisms in historical writing —from a desire no annihilate the anachronisms completely in the professional historiography of the XIX and early XX century up to their partial legitimation in the new cultural history of the 1970s, especially under the influence of works by J. Le Goff. But, as is here argued, despite all the mportance of the influences from the third generation of the «Annales» school, which reproduces the old opposition between reality and representations, new medievalists are doing something different, questioning and historicizing the opposition itself, and doing it not only with the Middle Ages, but also our contemporary historical culture in view. A special attention is given in these researches to the political connotations of historicism and anachronism, to the different regimes of historicity. As a conclusion will be discussed again the notion «preposterous» and the relevance of its rhetorical connotations.

Keywords: anachronism, medievalism, historiography, temporalities