1st Edition

Fifty Years of Medieval Technology and Social Change

Edited By Steven A. Walton Copyright 2020

    This volume brings together a series of papers at Kalamazoo as well as some contributed papers inspired by the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Lynn White Jr.’s, Medieval Technology and Social Change (1962), a slim study which catalyzed the study of technology in the Middle Ages in the English-speaking world. While the initial reviews and decades-long fortune of the volume have been varied, it is still in print and remains a touchstone of an idea and a time. The contributors to the volume, therefore, both investigate the book itself and its fate, and look at new research furthering and inspired by White’s work. The book opens with an introduction surveying White’s career, with a bibliography of his work, as well as some opening thoughts on the study of medieval technology in the last fifty years. Three papers then deal explicitly with the reception and longevity of his work and its impact on medieval studies more generally. Then five papers look at new cast studies areas where White’s work and approach has had a particular impact, namely, medieval technology studies and medieval rural/ ecological studies.

    List of Contributors

    List of Figures


    Chapter 1: Introduction

    Bibliography of Works by Lynn White, Jr.

    Chapter 2: B.B. Price
    Does the History of Technology Stand on the Shoulders of Giants?

    Chapter 3 Elspeth Whitney
    Lynn White’s "Roots" and Medieval Technology and Social Change:
    The View from Outside Medieval Studies

    Chapter 4 Steven A. Walton
    Determined Disjunction:
    Lynn White’s Medieval Technology and Social Change Then and Now

    Chapter 5 George Brooks
    Of Cranks and Crankshafts:
    Lynn White, Jr. and the Curious Question of Mechanical Power Transmission

    Chapter 6 C.R.J. Currie
    A Romanesque Box Hoist in Liège:
    A possible precursor of medieval tower-clock frames?

    Chapter 7 Christie Peters
    Industrial Milling and the Prolific Growth of the Cistercian
    Order in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries

    Chapter 8 Constance H. Berman
    Cistercian Nuns and Forest Management in Northern France

    Chapter 9 Chantal Camenisch
    Cold, Rain, and Famine: Three Subsistence Crises in the
    Burgundian Low Countries during the Fifteenth Century



    Steven A. Walton is an associate professor of history at Michigan Technological University, having previously taught at the Program in Science, Technology, and Society and the Center for Medieval Studies at Penn State University. He is a former president of AVISTA.