Corpora and "period"

Michael A. Chance mchance at
Thu Feb 23 09:06:04 PST 1995

Maire writes:

> I myself feel we have a part of our population who are more intersted in 
> doing the fantasy thing, or the party thing and not necessarily in doing
> research and showing the fruits of that research. I am a firm believer in
> getting back to our roots as stated in our governing documents ...

While I agree that there probably should be a more solid emphasis on
the research and educational aspects of the SCA, I think that I should
point out that the "roots" of the SCA, in the tradition of the First
Tourney, was in the re-creation role.  The participants at the first
tourney in Diana Paxton's back yard were trying to re-create the
atmosphere and activities of a medieval tournament and feast.

Notice that the SCA uses the word "re-create", _not_ "re-enact".
There is a big difference between the two, although they can be
similar.  Other Living History groups, such as the American Civl War,
WWII, Napoleanic era, etc., are primarily "re-enactment" organization.
That is, they are atttempting to, as accurately as possible, reproduce
the actual people, places, and events of the period of their focus.
The SCA, on the other hand, is re-creating a general atmosphere and
culture, filling in the specific characters, places, and events with
ones of our own making, based on the examples of actual historical
people, places, and events.  It's still "bringing history to life" (which
is, after all, the definition of Living History), but in a more
general way rather than in a very specific one.

Where the research and education purposes of the SCA comes into play is
in how accurate our re-creations of that general atmosphere and
culture are.  Without understanding how people lived, how they
interacted, how clothes, armor, books, legal documents, etc. were
constructed, doing a decent re-creation of the times becomes virtually
impossible.  You'd just be making it up as you went along, which is a
fantasy role-playing game, not a historical re-creation one.  The
founders of the SCA made a reasonably good first attempt nearly 30
years ago, and, with the efforts and dedication of thousands of people
since, the level of accuracy and authenticity of our re-creations is
orders of magnitude better today.  And continues to improve.  There's a
lot less of the pure fantasy and blatantly modern elements in the SCA
than there was, say, ten years ago.  I suspect that they'll be even
less ten years from now.

Mikjal Annarbjorn
Michael A. Chance          St. Louis, Missouri, USA    "At play in the fields
Work: mc307a at                             of St. Vidicon"
Play: mchance at

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