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Studies in Medievalism XXII

Studies in Medievalism XXII: Corporate Medievalism II

Edited by Karl Fugelso
Volume: 22
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Studies in Medievalism XXII
    Book Description:

    In the wake of the many passionate responses to its predecessor, Studies in Medievalism 22 also addresses the role of corporations in medievalism. Amid the three opening essays, Amy S. Kaufman examines how three modern novelists have refracted contemporary corporate culture through an imagined and highly dystopic Middle Ages. On either side of that paper, Elizabeth Emery and Richard Utz explore how the Woolworth Company and Google have variously promoted, distorted, appropriated, resisted, and repudiated post-medieval interpretations of the Middle Ages. And Clare Simmons expands on that approach in a full-length article on the Lord Mayor's Show in London. Readers are then invited to find other permutations of corporate influence in six articles on the gendering of Percy's 'Reliques', the Romantic Pre-Reformation in Charles Reade's 'The Cloister and the Hearth', renovation and resurrection in M.R. James's "Episode of Cathedral History", salvation in the 'Commedia' references of Rodin's 'Gates of Hell', film theory and the relationship of the Sister Arts to the cinematic 'Beowulf', and American containment culture in medievalist comic-books. While offering close, thorough studies of traditional media and materials, the volume directly engages timely concerns about the motives and methods behind this field and many others in academia. Karl Fugelso is Professor of Art History at Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland. Contributors: Aida Audeh, Elizabeth Emery, Katie Garner, Nickolas Haydock, Amy S. Kaufman, Peter W. Lee, Patrick J. Murphy, Fred Porcheddu, Clare A. Simmons, Mark B. Spencer, Richard Utz.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-116-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Editorial Note
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    Karl Fugelso
  5. I: Corporate Medievalism II:: Some Perspective(s)

    • The Corporate Gothic of New York’s Woolworth Building: Medieval Branding in the Original “Cathedral of Commerce”
      (pp. 1-10)
      Elizabeth Emery

      On Broadway, north of Wall Street, the commercial offerings of one storefront blend into the next. Banks, shoe stores, and stationery shops alternate with Duane Reade pharmacies and signs advertising space for rent: “MAGNIFICENT CORNER STORE. 1100 SQ. FT. OF BROADWAY FRONTAGE.”¹ From the ground it is difficult to distinguish one skyscraper from the next and to realize that this particular sign graces a window of the famous Woolworth Building, legendary in 1913 as the “cathedral of commerce.” The relationships among exterior and interior, reputation and function, spectacle and commerce in New York skyscrapers lie at the heart of this...

    • Our Future is Our Past: Corporate Medievalism in Dystopian Fiction
      (pp. 11-20)
      Amy S. Kaufman

      When economists and political scientists warn of the “new medievalism,” they are referring to a new feudalism governed by a corporate-government hybrid to which the whole world is doomed to be enslaved.¹ Companies like Google create “villages” for their employees while banks indenture us through escalating interest rates on credit cards, mortgages, and loans. Monsanto’s iron-fisted control of land, water, and seed echoes injunctions against hunting on the king’s land.² As corporations consolidate power at an alarming rate, the onset of a new Middle Ages seems all but inevitable.

      Predictions of a return to the past have also inspired the...

    • The Good Corporation? Google’s Medievalism and Why It Matters
      (pp. 21-28)
      Richard Utz

      In 1997, in one of the most widely received essays discussing questions of desire and sublimation among teachers and scholars of the Middle Ages, Louise Fradenburg includes a quick reading of director Chris Noonan’s Oscar-winning 1995 movie, Babe, as a contemporary artifact with a “recognizably medievalist agenda.” She explains that the film:

      celebrates love between master and servant (these days, animals have to stand in for the peasants), and rural life as the scene in which such love might be rediscovered. It expresses distaste for technology, focused especially on communications in the form of a Fax machine, but also recuperates...

  6. II: Interpretations

    • “Longest, oldest and most popular”: Medievalism in the Lord Mayor’s Show
      (pp. 29-44)
      Clare A. Simmons

      This introduction to the Lord Mayor’s Show is posted on the opening page of its website. The reference to King John places the practices that led to the show firmly in the medieval period. Moreover, the narrative as given here suggests that John willingly granted London rights in contrast to the forced concessions of Magna Carta. The official voice of the Lord Mayor’s Show identifies its origins in loyalty to political structures, rather than as a form of resistance to them. By pairing the phrase “one of the world’s oldest elected officials” with the idea of “public festival” the current...

    • Gendering Percy’s Reliques: Ancient Ballads and the Making of Women’s Arthurian Writing
      (pp. 45-68)
      Katie Garner

      In December 1807, almost fifty years after the publication of Thomas Percy’s foundational three-volume collection of ballads, sonnets, and songs, Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (1765), a rather less impressive-looking duodecimo volume appeared on the literary market announcing itself as Ancient Ballads; Selected from Percy’s Collection; with Explanatory Notes, taken from Different Authors, for the Use and Entertainment of Young Persons. Containing only a slim seventeen of Percy’s 180 pieces, Ancient Ballads is a fraction of the size of the Reliques’ weighty three tomes. This single-volume redaction was the work of an anonymous “lady” who felt compelled to compile a...

    • Romancing the Pre-Reformation: Charles Reade’s The Cloister and the Hearth
      (pp. 69-84)
      Mark B. Spencer

      Although largely forgotten today, Charles Reade’s The Cloister and the Hearth when it first appeared in 1861 “struck the reading public as well as the American and English press like a tidal wave.” It was particularly popular in the United States, where it went through eight editions in the first few weeks and was universally hailed by the leading newspapers as “a masterpiece of historic fiction.”¹ Indeed, many critics regarded it as the perfect historical novel, superior even to Sir Walter Scott, well into the twentieth century. Reade drew his original inspiration from the opening pages of a brief autobiography...

    • Renovation and Resurrection in M. R. James’s “An Episode of Cathedral History”
      (pp. 85-114)
      Patrick J. Murphy and Fred Porcheddu

      “An Episode of Cathedral History”: the very title promises us a study in the synchronic and the diachronic, as a few select persons inherit and respond to a structure designed to bear witness to all of human history. And a tale of the uneasy fortunes of communal history and memory is exactly what M. R. James (1862–1936) supplies, though (as we might expect from a distinguished medievalist who became one of the masters of the ghost-story genre) whatever social and aesthetic lessons we may learn are to be gained only after serious consideration of the scholarly backdrop of a...

    • Rodin’s Gates of Hell and Dante’s Inferno 7: Fortune, the Avaricious and Prodigal, and the Question of Salvation
      (pp. 115-137)
      Aida Audeh

      Among the artists and illustrators in nineteenth-century France inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy, Auguste Rodin (1840–1917) is unique for the attention he accorded the seventh canto of Inferno.¹ The numerous drawings Rodin created as he read Dante’s poem in preparation for his monumental sculpture, the Gates of Hell (Fig. 1), are remarkable for their treatment of the canto’s primary figures. These figures’ prominent placement in significant relief on the Gates suggests that the artist grasped the importance of canto 7 not only within the Inferno, but also in relation to the entire Divine Comedy. While ostensibly concerned with the...

    • Figures
      (pp. 138-152)
    • Film Theory, the Sister Arts Tradition, and the Cinematic Beowulf
      (pp. 153-180)
      Nickolas Haydock

      This essay contributes to a larger discussion on the relationships between medieval studies and medievalism that has occupied an increasing number of scholars in recent years.¹ Concerning the sub-field of movie medievalism, how can we put into productive relation the all-too-obviously disparate projects of writing a critical essay on Beowulf and adapting the poem for the silver screen? This essay revisits the question of homologies between scholarly and cinematic approaches to Beowulf by posing the question in another register – that of inter-media comparisons as informed by what is commonly known as “the Sister Arts Tradition.” My working thesis is simply...

    • Red Days, Black Knights: Medieval-themed Comic Books in American Containment Culture
      (pp. 181-200)
      Peter W. Lee

      In 1961, a teenage Supergirl journeyed to the thirtieth century in an effort to join the Legion of Superheroes, a team consisting of teenagers from across the universe. In order to prove herself worthy, Supergirl unearths millennial-old objects. “Here you are,” she beams, “Curios of the great past!” The artifacts include King Arthur’s sword, Achilles’ helmet, and Richard the Lionheart’s shield. The retrieval of these ancient relics impresses the band of history-savvy young aliens – despite their human appearances, none of them are originally from Earth – and they bestow membership upon her.¹

      The Middle Ages, as depicted in American popular culture...

  7. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 201-202)
  8. Back Matter
    (pp. 203-205)