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BY-NC-ND 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter 2020

The Contemporary Delegitimization of (Medieval) History – and of the Traditional University Curriculum as a Whole

From the book Making the Medieval Relevant

  • Julien Demade


The present delegitimization of History, and particularly of medieval History, is linked to the decline of the nation state, which ensured its own justification by referring to its own age and tradition. Nowaydays, economics, with its ahistorical logic, has become the ideology of a system in which multinational companies and transnational institutions have come to dominate. Seen in a broader perspective, the delegitimization of (medieval) History constitutes only one example of the loss of legitimacy that fundamental disciplines in general have suffered and that results from the fact that currently only monetary values are recognized as core values: advanced capitalism has succeeded in blending its ideology (i. e. its values), which is what enables it to reproduce itself, with the very mechanisms that form its core. As a corollary, the elite curriculum has shifted from fundamental to applied disciplines, leading to a qualitative increase in the recruitment of the latter; in addition, these applied disciplines have also been the main beneficiaries of the massification of higher education. This bifold increase, both qualitative and quantitative, has profoundly modified the relation of forces within the academic field and reversed it in favour of applied disciplines and the resulting social delegitimization has been translated into the academic delegitimization of the fundamental disciplines, of which the contemporary delegitimization of (medieval) History is only an illustration.

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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