Is it just me, or is Speculum the most terrible title in the world for an academic journal? Just throwing that out there. Speculum, believe it or not, is an academic journal, that has been around since 1926 (so basically, it's had that terrible title for a really long ass time), and is the the first scholarly journal in North America devoted to the Middle Ages. Normally I wouldn't even be looking at academic journals that have to do with the Middle Ages, but unfortunately the University of Alberta has decided not to offer any courses on Early Modern Europe that I haven't already taken, thus my searches for reviews of a book led me to Speculum. I don't know about everyone else, but the word Speculum doesn't conjure up images of forming societies, emerging powers, persecution, witches, lepers, or that really weird love triangle, not to mention very messed up mother-son dynamic, between Eleanor of Aquitaine, Richard the Lionheart (Richard I), and Henry II. No, it conjures up images of what actually look like Medieval torture devices at my lady-doctors office (yes, I said that...deal with it!).
Now I can only assume that this title was chosen by men. That 'Old Boys Club' that is academic history, decided that it was a jolly good name for an academic journal, and that such a name would inspire other men belonging to the same old boys club to reflect (Speculum basically means mirror, or to reflect in Latin) on other great works published by other men, who would in turn publish their own brilliant pieces of literature. Based on these facts, I can't really blame these men for not knowing that they were choosing the WORST possible word for the title of their journal, and also because they are men, they have no idea what a speculum really does (gross, I know). However, I would have at least thought they would have done their research and perhaps if they had, they would have realized that the speculum that most people know of was invented sometime in the 19th century by some guy (of course it was man) named J. Marion Sims, predating the inception of this journal. So really, it's an epic fail on their part. Perhaps if they had asked the opinion of a lady she would have told them that they were stupid for thinking that it was an excellent title.
In my personal opinion I think they should have named it "If You Lived During the Middle Ages You Were Basically Screwed Because If You Weren't Cast Out of Your Community as a Leper, or a Witch, or a Heretic, Your Crops Failed, and You and Your Family Starved and Then You Had to Go Begging For Alms to Support Them and Then You Were Burned at the Stake for Being One of The Above Mentioned Disturbances to Your Community, and If That Didn't Happen, Everyone Got the Plague and Died" It's a little long, but it's a hell of a lot better than Speculum. Also, I basically, just gave you all the Middle Ages in a nutshell. You're welcome.
P.S. This plague is bubonic, B-U-B-O-N-I-C! Maybe I'm the only one who finds this both brilliant and hilarious...maybe?
(Photo by Kate Beaton)