Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Studies in Medievalism XVII

Studies in Medievalism XVII: Defining Medievalism(s)

Edited by Karl Fugelso
Volume: 17
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 264
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Studies in Medievalism XVII
    Book Description:

    Medievalism has been attracting considerable scholarly attention in recent years. But it is also suffering from something of an identity crisis. Where are its chronological and geographical boundaries? How does it relate to the Middle Ages? Does it comprise neomedievalism, pseudomedievalism, and other "medievalisms"? ‘Studies in Medievalism’ XVII directly addresses these and related questions via a series of specially-commissioned essays from some of the most well-known scholars in the field; they explore its origins, survey the growth of the subject, and attempt various definitions. The volume then presents seven articles that often test the boundaries of medievalism: they look at echoes of medieval bestiaries in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter books, the influence of the ‘Niebelungenlied’ on Wagner's Ring cycle, representations of King Alfred in two works by Dickens, medieval tropes in John Bale's Reformist plays, authenticity in Sigrid Undset's novel ‘Kristin Lavransdatter’, incidental medievalism in Handel's opera ‘Rodelinda’, and editing in the audio version of Seamus Heaney's ‘Beowulf’. CONTRIBUTORS: KATHLEEN VERDUIN, CLARE A. SIMMONS, NILS HOLGER PETERSEN, TOM SHIPPEY, GWENDOLYN A. MORGAN, M. J. TOSWELL, ELIZABETH EMERY, KARL FUGELSO, EMILY WALKER HEADY, MARK B. SPENCER, GAIL ORGELFINGER, DOUGLAS RYAN VAN BENTHUYSEN, THEA CERVONE, WERNER WUNDERLICH, EDWARD R. HAYMES.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-763-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Editorial Note
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. I: Defining Medievalism(s):: Some Perspective(s)

    • The Founding and the Founder: Medievalism and the Legacy of Leslie J. Workman
      (pp. 1-27)
      Kathleen Verduin

      The archive is rich. I knew it, of course, having collaborated for nearly twenty years with the founding editor of Studies in Medievalism, Leslie J. Workman, as, in his preferred appellation, “Associate Editor and wife, not necessarily in that order”: if there was any strain on our domestic circumstances, it was that as an inveterate historian he would throw nothing away. But sorting again through the thirty-odd banker’s boxes now in the attic of the humanities building at Hope College, where I teach and where Leslie stalked the halls from our marriage in 1983 until the illness that ended his...

    • Medievalism: Its Linguistic History in Nineteenth-Century Britain
      (pp. 28-35)
      Clare A. Simmons

      In Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s 1865 potboiler Sir Jasper’s Tenant, the Sir Jasper of the title is a widowed baronet with an especial fondness for the art of William Etty, the early Victorian artist best known for his sensuous studies of nudes, both women and men.¹ True to his idol’s tastes, Sir Jasper has an eye for the voluptuous charms of a lady visitor who happens to be an evil twin in disguise, but he also likes the brooding manliness of his equally disguised tenant, George Pauncefort. Attempting to persuade George to spend Christmas with him, Sir Jasper promises him, “No...

    • Medievalism and Medieval Reception: A Terminological Question
      (pp. 36-44)
      Nils Holger Petersen

      In this paper I would like to address a question that is absolutely central to the definition of “medievalism”: namely, should this term be used for everything that derives from the Middle Ages, or should it be reserved for post-medieval interest in the revival of phenomena belonging to the period or notion of the Middle Ages? The importance of this question has been underscored by its great relevance to many of the conferences and publications sponsored by Studies in Medievalism over the years. Moreover, I am convinced that in limiting the possibility of conclusively theorizing about or mapping medievalism, the...

    • Medievalisms and Why They Matter
      (pp. 45-54)
      Tom Shippey

      According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “mediaevalism” is “The system of belief and practice characteristic of the Middle Ages […] the adoption of or devotion to mediaeval ideals or usages; occas. An instance of this.” This wording is found in the first edition of 1933, though it must have been composed considerably earlier, with supporting quotations running from 1853 to 1890. The editors of the second edition of 1989, however, saw no reason to adapt or expand the old definition, which thus remains standard and in a sense authoritative. The OED sense of the word, moreover, remains perfectly familiar: when...

    • Medievalism, Authority, and the Academy
      (pp. 55-67)
      Gwendolyn A. Morgan

      Despite denoting one of the fastest growing approaches of academic inquiry within a number of fields, the term “medievalism” remains somewhat slippery. It may describe the use of medieval themes, stories, characters, or even styles in the fiction, art, or film in any period following the close of the Middle Ages. Politically, it frequently denotes the recreation or refashioning of historical figures or events to justify the ideologies or national identities of a subsequent age. It has been applied to the adoption and adaptation of medieval philosophies to illuminate the issues of a later time. It may even describe the...

    • The Tropes of Medievalism
      (pp. 68-76)
      M. J. Toswell

      Lexicographers identify two principal modes of establishing the meaning of headwords, both of which are generally used in each dictionary entry: denotation and connotation. The former attempts a precise indication of meaning, beginning with a genus word and then providing differentiae that distinguish the term from others in the same class, often using a matrix to establish elements of contrast that make the definition steadily more precise. Connotation, on the other hand, provides synonyms and paraphrases, but works by providing examples of usage, arranged diachronically or analytically according to the logical developments of the word and its occurrences. A good...

    • Medievalism and the Middle Ages
      (pp. 77-85)
      Elizabeth Emery

      The term “medievalism” is sufficiently broad to describe the practices of a great number of different trends related to the Middle Ages in scholarship and popular culture, but also maddeningly vague for those who seek in it a clear definition. As both Tom Shippey and Nils Holger Petersen have pointed out in their contributions to this volume, it may be more accurate to speak of “medievalisms” because of the multiple forms through which interest in the Middle Ages tends to manifest itself. This is particularly true with regard to the divide separating historically based “high culture” studies of the medieval...

    • Medievalism from Here
      (pp. 86-91)
      Karl Fugelso

      On another occasion I have argued that many supposed departures from medievalism, particularly those often classified as “neomedievalism” or “pseudomedievalism,” do not, in fact, escape conventional definitions of our field.¹ Though they may be conveyed by comparatively new media, such as computers, or may incorporate overt fantasy, such as dragons and trolls, they almost always descend at least in part from the historical Middle Ages. That is to say, they almost always fall within what Leslie Workman has described as “the post-medieval idea and study of the Middle Ages and the influence, both scholarly and popular, of this study on...

  5. II: Interpretations

    • A Steam-Whistle Modernist?: Representations of King Alfred in Dickens’s A Child’s History of England and The Battle of Life
      (pp. 92-111)
      Emily Walker Heady

      The Victorians’ attraction to the Middle Ages is a well-documented phenomenon. Charles Dellheim, for instance, has noted the paradox that as the Victorians became more technologically advanced, their fascination with the “preindustrial past and in particular its medieval inheritance” increased.¹ In addition to numerous Gothic railway termini, Londoners at mid-century would have been able to watch the construction of All Saints Church on Margaret Street (1849), view the Pre-Raphaelite exhibit at the Royal Academy (1851), and tour Pugin’s Medieval Court at the Great Exhibition (1851). Strangely, however, Charles Dickens, one of Victorian England’s most paradigmatic authors, seems largely to have...

    • Writing Medieval Women (and Men): Sigrid Undset’s Kristin Lavransdatter
      (pp. 112-140)
      Mark B. Spencer

      The historical novel is a conservative genre. Although Sir Walter Scott in many respects paved the way for the great nineteenth-century masterpieces of contemporary realism, as Georg Lukács claimed,¹ he also firmly established romance as the dominant mode for historical fiction. Nowhere is this stark division more evident than in the work of Gustave Flaubert, for while Emma Bovary’s dreams of romance wither amid the mud and manure of rural Normandy, the Carthaginian princess Salammbô soars to the heights of romantic fantasy, rescuing the veil of the goddess Tanit, inspiring the impossible love of a Moorish rebel chieftain, and dying...

    • J. K. Rowling’s Medieval Bestiary
      (pp. 141-160)
      Gail Orgelfinger

      The world of J. K. Rowling’s seven Harry Potter novels is inhabited by not only witches, wizards, and Muggles, who are ordinary folk generally oblivious to and protected from magic, but also a vast assortment of real and imaginary creatures.² Young wizards bring owls, cats, and the odd rat to Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft, where Harry enrolls at the age of eleven. In The Care of Magical Creatures classes, Keeper Rubeus Hagrid’s misplaced love of the exotic leads him to domesticate a hippogriff and engage in dangerous breeding experiments. In Professor McGonagall’s Transfiguration classes, students begin by changing...

    • Seamus Heaney’s Audio Beowulf: An Analysis of the Omissions
      (pp. 161-184)
      Douglas Ryan VanBenthuysen

      The significance of Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf struck me when I saw it on sale at the airport, alongside works by Tom Clancy and Sue Grafton. Three hundred years after the sole copy of this early medieval classic was literally on fire, it is now ubiquitous.

      Yet Heaney’s Beowulf has achieved more than a mere appearance on newsstand shelves, for it has also earned recognition as a credible translation for Beowulfian scholarship. The inclusion of Old English on the facing pages in the North American edition makes the translation an academic tool, and the choice of this translation for...

    • The King’s Phantom: Staging Majesty in Bale’s Kynge Johan
      (pp. 185-202)
      Thea Cervone

      Thomas Cromwell’s accounts for September 1539 show an entry for “Balle and his fellows,” who were to be paid 40s for performing a play at St. Stephen’s beside Canterbury.¹ The play is not named, but it is almost certainly Kynge Johan, the most well-known dramatic work of the Reformer John Bale (1495–1563). Though “Bilious Bale,” as he was known at the time, became a member of the Carmelite order in 1507, he converted to the Reformist movement in 1533 and within six years composed this attack on the supposed evils and hypocrisies of the Church. In it, he suggests...

    • Rodelinda Goes Opera: The Lombard Queen’s Journey from Medieval Backstage to Händel’s “dramma per musica”
      (pp. 203-217)
      Werner Wunderlich

      Georg Friedrich Händel (1685–1759) composed forty operas, most of which belong to the quite formal and heroic genre of opere serie.² These dramme per musica, as they are often called in their own libretti, catered to the political needs and aesthetic expectations of their aristocratic audiences, for they revolve around characters from the upper ranks of society.³ That is to say, they bring erotic impulses and the duties of … virtue into conflict with the dynamic intrigues of state actions, allow for the glorification of wisdom, responsibility, and modesty as the ideals of enlightened absolute monarchy, and exploit the...

    • The Ring of the Nibelung and the Nibelungenlied: Wagner’s Ambiguous Relationship to a Source
      (pp. 218-246)
      Edward R. Haymes

      Richard Wagner never much liked the Nibelungenlied, a Middle High German epic from around 1200 that was responsible for a certain level of nationalistic madness in Germany in the early nineteenth century. I can sympathize. When I first read the epic I was tremendously disappointed. Where were all the gods, dwarves, giants, and other mythical creatures and events that give Wagner’s Ring its special glamour? The epic is grounded in a fictional world that reflects the politics and social concerns of its own times, the beginning of the thirteenth century. The opening chapter, for example, is a relatively pedestrian description...

  6. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 247-250)
  7. Back Matter
    (pp. 251-252)