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Studies in Medievalism XIX

Studies in Medievalism XIX: Defining Neomedievalism(s)

Edited by Karl Fugelso
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 246
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  • Book Info
    Studies in Medievalism XIX
    Book Description:

    The focus on neomedievalism at the 2007 International Conference on Medievalism, in ever more sessions at the annual International Congress on Medieval Studies, and by many recent or forthcoming publications has left little doubt of the importance of this new, provocative area of study. In response to a seminal essay defining medievalism in relationship to neomedievalism (published in volume 18 of this journal), this book begins with seven essays defining neomedievalism in relationship to medievalism. Their positions are then tested by five articles, whose subjects range from modern American manifestations of Byzantine art, to the Vietnam War as refracted through non-heterosexual implications in the 1976 movie Robin and Marian, and versions of abjection in recent Beowulf films. Theory and practice are thus juxtaposed in a volume that is certain to fuel a central debate in not one but two of the fastest growing areas of academia. Contributors: Amy S. Kaufman, Brent Moberley, Kevin Moberley, Lesley Coote, Cory Lowell Grewell, M.J. Toswell, E.L. Risden, Lauryn S. Mayer, Glenn Peers, Tison Pugh, David W. Marshall, Richard H. Osberg, Richard Utz

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-829-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Editorial Note
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Karl Fugelso
  4. I: Defining Neomedievalism(s):: Some Perspective(s)

    • Medieval Unmoored
      (pp. 1-11)
      Amy S. Kaufman

      At the end of a fruitful conference on Neomedievalisms in London, Ontario, in October 2007, I found myself in the audience of a Dante panel in which participants launched into an unexpected debate over the title of the conference itself. Why, some wondered, do we even need the word neomedievalism? After all, we have a perfectly sound word, medievalism, that encompasses all manner of interaction with the Middle Ages. Strong arguments have been raised before, during, and after the conference against the use of the new term, including the objections of Leslie Workman, the founder of medievalism as a field...

    • Neomedievalism, Hyperrealism, and Simulation
      (pp. 12-24)
      Brent Moberly and Kevin Moberly

      Although most definitions of the neomedieval begin with Umberto Eco’s “Return of the Middle Ages,” we feel that it is more appropriate to begin with his “Travels in Hyperreality,” as it is here that Eco describes the interplay between the authentic and the inauthentic, the historical, mythical, and the technological that constitutes neomedievalism as a representational strategy.² Searching for instances “where the American imagination demands the real thing and, to attain it, must fabricate the absolute fake,” Eco’s essay invariably leads him to the Movieland Wax Museum and the Palace of the Living Arts in Buena Park, California. Standing beside...

    • A Short Essay about Neomedievalism
      (pp. 25-33)
      Lesley Coote

      In this essay, I shall concentrate on an examination of theneoelement of neomedievalism, not to the exclusion ofmedievalism, but in acknowledgement of the many contributions that have already been made to defining and exploring this concept in the past fifty years or so – many of them in the pages ofStudies in Medievalism.¹ Whether one or many, medievalisms manifest themselves in one of two ways. First, there is the presentation and re-presentation of (essentially, the European) Middle Ages in art, literary text, and on screen, in order to deliver what Anthony Mann, one of the most gifted...

    • Neomedievalism: An Eleventh Little Middle Ages?
      (pp. 34-43)
      Cory Lowell Grewell

      In many ways, the scholars working on establishing “neomedievalism” as a legitimate field within the academy are taking what seems to be a very parallel path to that followed in years past by the scholars who established medievalism as a legitimate field of study, distinct from Romanticism and medieval studies. That is to say, neomedievalist scholarship is establishing itself by mapping contemporary cultural phenomena that re-imagine the Middle Ages in a way that is distinctively “neomedieval” and analyzing those phenomena’s relation to culture at large, the historic Middle Ages, and previous forms of medievalism.

      Among those at the forefront of...

    • The Simulacrum of Neomedievalism
      (pp. 44-57)
      M. J. Toswell

      I would like to propose a genuine distinction between medievalism and neomedievalism, a distinction that can be used going forward but also one that, I believe, is already in place in the way in which individuals construct their approach to the medieval – whether consciously or unconsciously. The difference between the two terms as they are used in the English-speaking world is that medievalism implies a genuine link – sometimes direct, sometimes somewhat indirect – to the Middle Ages, whereas neomedievalism invokes a simulacrum of the medieval. I do not impute any higher value to the one than the other, but simply want...

    • Sandworms, Bodices, and Undergrounds: The Transformative Mélange of Neomedievalism
      (pp. 58-67)
      E. L. Risden

      “Who put the bop in the bop-shoo-bop-shoo-bop? Who put the ram in the ram-a-lam-a-ding-dong?” asks the famous pop song.¹ Well, then, who put theneoin neomedievalism? Some usages, many of them Continental – Eco’s for instance – imply essentially the same thing that most American and British scholars mean bymedievalism: the matter of the Middle Ages renewed in more modern works of literature and art.² Other academic volleys have suggested thenewmove appears in shifting the old matter of medievalism to new technologies: high-tech, effects-heavy films, personal video games, multiple-player online role-playing games.³ That usage seems to me both...

    • Dark Matters and Slippery Words: Grappling with Neomedievalism(s)
      (pp. 68-76)
      Lauryn S. Mayer

      In Passus Eight of William Langland’sPiers Plowman,Will sets off to discover Dowel, convinced that he is on a quest for a single correct answer. Many years, paths, and interpretive mires later, he (and the reader) finally grasp the hard truth: Dowel is a reflexive and reflective process that must be continually repeated in a postlapsarian world. If there is one aspect of neomedievalism that critics can agree upon, it is that it resists any easy definition, and the problem may lie in the questions we are asking. To ask “what is neomedievalism?” or even “what are neomedievalisms?” is...

  5. II: (Neo-)Medievalist Interpretations

    • Utopia and Heterotopia: Byzantine Modernisms in America
      (pp. 77-113)
      Glenn Peers

      Dreams and visions of Byzantium traveled across the Atlantic Ocean many times over the course of the twentieth century, and they helped to determine the creation and understanding of modern art in America. Broadly speaking, the dreams were utopian desires on the parts of critics, historians, and artists for a world where unified humanity and essential art were possible; the visions were newly framed representations of Byzantium and no less historically wishful. Michel Foucault (1926–84) discussed this cultural dichotomy: he described one emplacement, on the one hand, as utopia, self-evidently no-place, a perfected form of society that does not...

    • Queer Crusading, Military Masculinity, and Allegories of Vietnam in Richard Lester’s Robin and Marian
      (pp. 114-134)
      Tison Pugh

      In their 1976 filmRobin and Marian, screenwriter James Goldman and director Richard Lester retell the legend of Robin Hood, but not to celebrate the romantic possibilities of military or vigilante heroism; rather, this post-Vietnam film posits the Crusades as a queering experience, one that unravels fictions of heteronormative romance and military masculinity.¹ The debilitating effects of crusading in the Holy Land, notably in the ways in which it confuses relationships between lovers (as well as between enemies), undermines the mythic cast of the Robin Hood legend which, writ large, depends on patriarchal gender roles of brave men rescuing maidens...

    • Getting Reel with Grendel’s Mother: The Abject Maternal and Social Critique
      (pp. 135-159)
      David W. Marshall

      Recent film adaptations ofBeowulfoffer interpretations of Grendel’s mother that seem to defy any grounding in the text. In one retelling, a net-clad Playmate slinks into Hrothgar’s room while he sleeps and mounts him in a soft-core display of sexual delight. In another, Beowulf stands cautiously in a dark cave as Grendel’s mother rises naked from the water, voluptuous, gold, and buxom. There may be logic in adding a measure of sex to screen adaptations of the poem, since, as Roger Avary confesses, “in Hollywood [. . .]Beowulfwas considered something of a joke. A sword-and-sandal hoity-toity lesson...

    • The Colony Writes Back: F. N. Robinson’s Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer and the Translatio of Chaucer Studies to the United States
      (pp. 160-203)
      Richard Utz

      In 1933 Alois Brandl, Professor of English at the University of Berlin, reviewedThe Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, published in the United States by Houghton Mifflin (Boston) and earlier in the same year in Britain by Oxford University Press. In his review, Brandl expresses his astonishment at the publication of an edition of Chaucer by “the biggest publisher in English studies” compiled by someone he does not know:

      Who is F. N. Robinson?Minervacalls him a professor of English at Harvard; one seeks his name unsuccessfully in the English studies bibliographies. But he must be a diligent reader...

    • False Memories: The Dream of Chaucer and Chaucer’s Dream in the Medieval Revival
      (pp. 204-226)
      Richard H. Osberg

      In 1892, when Thomas Lounsbury published in hisStudies in Chaucera chapter, “The Chaucer Legend,” systematically debunking the spurious elements that had accreted in the Chaucer biography from Leland to Godwin and beyond, the scholarly evidence he marshaled had been available, in some cases, for more than fifty years; and the de-accession of inauthentic works from the Chaucer canon, upon which many of these narratives were founded, was by that time rapidly accelerated. Nonetheless, Lounsbury notes, “no fictitious story connected with Chaucer’s career has ever been wholly abandoned. It may be modified, but it is never contemptuously cast aside.”¹...

  6. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 227-230)
  7. Back Matter
    (pp. 231-233)