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Studies in Medievalism XVIII

Studies in Medievalism XVIII: Defining Medievalism(s) II

Edited by Karl Fugelso
Volume: 18
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 306
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  • Book Info
    Studies in Medievalism XVIII
    Book Description:

    This latest volume of ‘Studies in Medievalism’ further explores definitions of the field, complementing its landmark predecessor. In its first section, essays by seven leading medievalists seeks to determine precisely how to characterize the subjects of study, their relationship to new and related fields, such as neomedievalism, and their relevance to the middle ages, whose definition is itself a matter of debate. Their observations and conclusions are then tested in the articles second part of the book. Their topics include the notion of progress over the last eighty or ninety years in our perception of the middle ages; medievalism in Gustave Doré's mid-nineteenth-century engravings of the ‘Divine Comedy’; the role of music in Peter Jackson's ‘Lord of the Rings’ films; cinematic representations of the Holy Grail; the medieval courtly love tradition in Jeanette Winterson's ‘The Passion’ and ‘The.Powerbook’; Eleanor of Aquitaine in twentieth-century histories; modern updates of the Seven Deadly Sins; and Victorian spins on Jacques de Voragine's ‘Golden Legend’. CONTRIBUTORS: Carla A. Arnell, Aida Audeh, Jane Chance, Pamela Clements, Alain Corbellari, Roberta Davidson, Michael Evans, Nickolas Haydock, Carol Jamison, Stephen Meyer, E. L. Risden, Carol L. Robinson, Clare A. Simmons, Richard Utz, Veronica Ortenberg West-Harling.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-764-6
    Subjects: History

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-xii)
  4. I: Defining Medievalism(s) II:: Some More Perspective(s)

    • Medievalism as Fun and Games
      (pp. 1-16)
      Veronica Ortenberg West-Harling

      Medievalism hides in many guises in contemporary culture, of which four will be examined here.² One is the popular literature of fantasy fiction and crime novels. Another two are the world of Heritage – covering medieval sites, theme parks, and a vast retail industry of artifacts – and, partly associated with it, the historical re-enactment scene. Last but not least is the development of war and strategy Internet games.

      The origins of the fantasy fiction genre may go back to William Morris,³ but its real modern roots are in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Fantasy fiction invents myths, legends, and characters situated...

    • Medievalism and Excluded Middles
      (pp. 17-30)
      Nickolas Haydock

      In an uncharacteristic breach of Aristotelian ordo, Umberto Eco remarked that before we can speak about medievalism we have the “cultural duty” first to specify what kind of medievalism we’re talking about.¹ Of course this puts the cart in front of the horse, the species ahead of the genus: before we identify sub-categories of medievalism we first need to define medievalism itself – something Eco’s famous essay “Dreaming of the Middle Ages” never does.² Without delimiting the genus we run the risk – as indeed has tended to occur, in part because of the popularity of Eco’s piece – of multiplying subcategories willy-nilly...

    • Medievalitas Fugit: Medievalism and Temporality
      (pp. 31-43)
      Richard Utz

      At the beginning of his influential monograph Futures Past Reinhart Kosellek compares two distinct moments in the reception history of the famous battle of Issus, in which Alexander the Great’s Greek army defeated the Persians in 333 BCE. One, Albrecht Altdorfer’s widely known historical painting, Alexanderschlacht, unites on a canvas of 1.5 square meters everything that was known, in the early sixteenth century, about the impressive military victory that ushered in Hellenism. Noting various kinds of anachronism employed by Altdorfer, Kosellek remarks:

      Viewing the painting in the Pinakothek, we think we see before us the last knights of Maximilian [scil....

    • Medievalists, Medievalism, and Medievalismists: The Middle Ages, Protean Thinking, and the Opportunistic Teacher-Scholar
      (pp. 44-54)
      E. L. Risden

      We live in an academic time/space occupied by an increasingly variegated tapestry of “Studies”: American Studies, Women’s Studies, Gender Studies, Classical Studies, Medieval Studies. Many academicians, I observe, feel less than ever inclined to call ourselves members of English or History or Art Departments – too confining, too firmly circumscribing, too incriminating, too frighteningly definitive, too, well, old-fashioned. If we do “Medieval Studies,” rather than “English,” we feel freer to incorporate bits of history, literature, linguistics, religion, and aesthetics into our courses with a degree of nonchalance that may seem like dilettantism except that we already have so much to learn...

    • Living with Neomedievalism
      (pp. 55-75)
      Carol L. Robinson and Pamela Clements

      The epigraph by Lord Acton, to be found in nearly every edition of Studies in Medievalism, points to a great dualism of political and religious proportions between “antiquity and the middle ages” that still today “runs through our society”; however, the fact that this quote is from a work written in the mid-nineteenth century underscores the transition from a dualism to a multiplicity of thought in increasingly globalized philosophies that have been developing since not long before Leslie J. Workman’s founding of medievalism studies. Indeed, in “Medievalisms and Why They Matter,” Tom Shippey points to the enormity, all-encompassing and thus...

    • Tough Love: Teaching the New Medievalisms
      (pp. 76-98)
      Jane Chance

      Those of us who teach the Middle Ages today are likely to be familiar with Medievalism, namely, the appropriation of beliefs, ideas, methods, styles, and worldviews common to the period roughly between 500 and 1500 CE in western Europe in any later historical period except what has been designated as “the Middle Ages,” denoting, according to Petrarch, the period between classical antiquity and its alleged Renaissance in Italy and England. The OED defines Medievalism as “The system of belief and practice characteristic of the Middle Ages […] the adoption of or devotion to mediaeval ideals or usages; occas. An instance...

  5. II: Interpretations

    • Is Medievalism Reactionary? From between the World Wars to the Twenty-first Century: On the Notion of Progress in our Perception of the Middle Ages
      (pp. 99-124)
      Alain Corbellari

      Today’s fascination with the Middle Ages is usually attributed to Romanticism. This, however, is true only in that Romanticism marked a peak of interest in the period; the Romantics largely misunderstood the Middle Ages, and one may as well situate the crucial moment for the revival of medieval studies in the eighteenth century, when serious scholarly work on the Middle Ages began, or at the end of the nineteenth century, when scholars brought to fruition the erudition and methodology developed during the previous century. Or, as I would like to do here, one may place it still later, in the...

    • Gustave Doré’s Illustrations for Dante’s Divine Comedy: Innovation, Influence, and Reception
      (pp. 125-164)
      Aida Audeh

      Gustave Doré’s (1832–83) illustrations and Dante’s Divine Comedy have become so intimately connected that even today, nearly 150 years after their initial publication, Doré’s rendering of the poet’s text still accompanies, or even determines, our vision of the Commedia. Indeed, Doré’s illustrations together with Dante’s text have appeared in roughly 200 editions, with translations from the poet’s original Italian available in multiple languages.² Doré’s fame as Dante’s illustrator is worldwide, and the pervasiveness of his Commedia imagery is undeniable. Yet there was another side to Doré. He was also a prolific painter and sculptor with ambitions for acceptance in...

    • Soundscapes of Middle Earth: The Question of Medievalist Music in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings Films
      (pp. 165-187)
      Stephen Meyer

      The highly popular combination of cinema and medievalism has produced a plethora of ironies and contradictions, but none is more curious than that which attends the notions of authenticity and historical accuracy. The latest cinematic version of the Arthurian legend – Antoine Fuqua’s King Arthur – exemplifies the ways in which these notions may suffuse both the creation and the interpretation of a medievalist film. Keira Knightley’s voice-over for the theatrical trailer sets the tone of the movie. “For centuries,” she begins, “countless tales have been told of the legend of King Arthur. But the only story you’ve never heard is the...

    • Now You Don’t See It, Now You Do: Recognizing the Grail as the Grail
      (pp. 188-202)
      Roberta Davidson

      Every director who makes a film depicting the Holy Grail faces the same challenge: the audience assumes it knows what the Grail looks like. Contemporary representations of the Grail have uniformly shown a glowing chalice, and for audiences this chalice is immediately recognizable as the Grail.¹ Accordingly, every director who makes a film depicting the Grail has the same problem: how to avoid cliché and anticlimax when an object the audience has already recognized before it appears on screen is finally seen.

      To put the problem in its most basic terms – film is a visual medium. When we see an...

    • From the Middle Ages to the Internet Age: The Medieval Courtly Love Tradition in Jeanette Winterson’s The Passion and The.Powerbook
      (pp. 203-228)
      Carla A. Arnell

      The contemporary British novelist Jeanette Winterson (b. 1959) is well known for her fantastical autobiography of life among a zealous group of Pentecostal Evangelicals, her gender-bending fictional narratives, her spare but seductive prose style, and even her shameless self-promotion. But she is less well known for the medievalism that has subtly and persistently shaped her works of fiction. A quick survey of the scholarship that has proliferated about Winterson in the last two decades reveals essay titles replete with permutations of the prefix “post”: post-humanist, post-realist, post-Enlightenment, and of course “postmodern.” What rarely merits mention are Winterson’s premodern and, indeed,...

    • New Golden Legends: Golden Saints of the Nineteenth Century
      (pp. 229-243)
      Clare A. Simmons

      In the first half of the nineteenth century, the British printing and publishing industry underwent a transformation of such a scale that some observers seem to have found parallels with William Caxton’s first introduction of the printing press into England.¹ Early printed books produced by Caxton, his successor Wynken de Worde, and others became sought-after collectibles. While the bibliomania of the early 1800s was limited to the wealthy, it helped foster an interest in the book both for its contents (generally, the older the better) and for its appearance. As the number of readers expanded, new forms of publication, and...

    • A Remarkable Woman? Popular Historians and the Image of Eleanor of Aquitaine
      (pp. 244-264)
      Michael Evans

      The word “remarkable” is perhaps the most commonly used adjective in descriptions of Eleanor of Aquitaine. The entry devoted to her in one recent encyclopedia of the Middle Ages opens with the statement that she “was one of the most remarkable women of the twelfth century.”¹ Pick up one of the many popular biographies of her, or even some of the more scholarly works, and you will be informed that Eleanor was an outstanding figure, whose remarkable career distinguishes her from any other woman in what is assumed to be a backward and misogynist age. Eleanor’s political career is certainly...

    • The New Seven Deadly Sins
      (pp. 265-288)
      Carol Jamison

      The Seven Deadly Sins website, a site devoted to all modern aspects of the Seven Deadly Sins, features this telling statement about the current status of the Seven Deadly Sins in modern culture:

      We at the Seven Deadly Sins Homepage pride ourselves on our commitment to keeping alive the vital historical tradition of the Seven Deadly Sins. But sometimes, like the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, you wonder if the people who framed the original concepts would have felt differently if they could have peered into the future and seen all the crazed goings-on in our age. In a...

  6. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 289-292)
  7. Back Matter
    (pp. 293-295)