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Studies in Medievalism XXI

Studies in Medievalism XXI: Corporate Medievalism

Edited by Karl Fugelso
Volume: 21
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Studies in Medievalism XXI
    Book Description:

    Academia has never been immune to corporate culture, and despite the persistent association of medievalism with escapism, perhaps never has that been more obvious than at the present moment. The six essays that open the volume explore precisely how financial institutions have promoted, distorted, appropriated, resisted, and repudiated post-medieval interpretations of the middle ages. In the second part of the book, contributors explore medievalism in a variety of areas, juxtaposing specific case studies with broader investigations of the discipline's motives and methods; they include Charles Kingsley's racial Anglo-Saxonism, Jessie L. Weston's Sir Gawain and the treatment of women in medievalist film. The book also includes a spirited response to previous Studies in Medievalism volumes on the topic neomedievalism. Contributors: Harry Brown, Henrik Aubert, Helen Brookman, Pamela Clements, KellyAnn Fitzpatrick, Jil Hanifan, Michael R. Kightley, Felice Lifshitz, Lauren S. Mayer, Brent Moberley, Kevin Moberley, E. L. Risden, Carol L. Robinson, M. J. Toswell, J. Rubén Valdés Miyares.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-976-3
    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-xii)
  4. I: Corporate Medievalism:: Some Perspective(s)

    • Lives of Total Dedication? Medieval and Modern Corporate Identity
      (pp. 1-10)
      M. J. Toswell

      In the Old English version of the Monasteriales Indicia, the sign for abbot is given as follows: Ærest þæs abbudes tacen is þæt mon his twegen fingras to his heafde asette, and his feax mid genime (“First, the sign for the abbot is that one puts one’s two fingers to one’s head, and takes hold of one’s hair with them”).¹ This might be more quickly explained as “lift two fingers to the head, and grip the hair.” In a Continental version this sign is clarified, so that it suggests not the tugging of the forelock, but that the hair that...

    • Reincorporating the Medieval: Morality, Chivalry, and Honor in Post-Financial-Meltdown Corporate Revisionism
      (pp. 11-26)
      Kevin Moberly and Brent Moberly

      Those who follow such things will have undoubtedly noticed that the Capital One “What’s in your Wallet” Viking commercials have undergone a dramatic change since they originally aired. Early versions of the commercials cast the Vikings as a collective, agonistic, and decidedly pre-modern other. Garbed in pelts, wearing horned helmets, and wielding all manner of medieval weaponry, they waited in hordes just beyond the horizon, ready to charge screaming into the fray and ruthlessly visit any unfortunate credit-card purchase with requisite and over-determined medieval violence – that is, any credit-card purchase that was not made from beyond the silvered shieldwall...

    • Medievalism and Representations of Corporate Identity
      (pp. 27-36)
      KellyAnn Fitzpatrick and Jil Hanifan

      Anyone who has popped a quarter into the arcade version of Gauntlet from the early 1980s, brought home a console game such as those of Nintendo’s Zelda series, or renewed a subscription to the currently popular World of Warcraft has not only exchanged money for the privilege of playing a game, but has also purchased a commodified representation of the Middle Ages. Many of these games borrow design elements from common understandings of the European Middle Ages, including settings, narratives, clothing, professions, and architecture. These borrowings, however, often make no claims to historical accuracy or realism, and their situation within...

    • Knights of the Ownership Society: Economic Inequality and Medievalist Film
      (pp. 37-48)
      Harry Brown

      Although now more than ever the ideologies personified by Obama and Bush seem to stand in desperate opposition to each other, their differences are almost invisible in their respective inaugural addresses. Both speak of economic opportunity as the nation’s fundamental virtue, the guarantee for a just society. Both assure us that prosperity and independence lie within reach of any person willing to work for them, though the path to success may be long and hard. The recent financial crisis, however, has withered hopes for an ownership society, leaving us largely a nation of debtors. Between 2008 and 2010, almost five...

    • A Corporate Neo-Beowulf: Ready or Not, Here We Come
      (pp. 49-56)
      E. L. Risden

      Commoditization appears as an issue in some Beowulf films – no real surprise there, since it appears in the poem itself – but a particularly interesting instance occurs in director Hal Hartley’s No Such Thing (2001). A ruthless corporate-media boss can’t wait to exploit both the Monster and the girl who finds him: a satiric Beowulf story redesigned to sell for a different audience and reconstructed around a new theme. The film suggests that the corporate monster can and will show far more cold-blooded evil than the natural one – neomedievalism turns to critique of corporate culture. While filmmakers have...

    • Unsettled Accounts: Corporate Culture and George R. R. Martin’s Fetish Medievalism
      (pp. 57-64)
      Lauryn S. Mayer

      From the Pearl-poet to the Pre-Raphaelites and beyond, the trope of the knight’s farewell to his lady before battle nicely condenses the ideals of courtly love, aristocratic valor, pageantry, and chivalry. To open the battle between the Stark and Lannister forces in A Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin presents us with a relentless attack on the trope. The excellent and costly armor covers a “misshapen,” stunted body, and is not even available for use. Tyrion, the leader of one flank, has never been in a battle, and the admiring lady is a whore Tyrion bought from one of...

  5. II: Interpretations

    • Historicizing Neumatic Notation: Medieval Neumes as Cultural Artifacts of Early Modern Times
      (pp. 65-88)
      Eduardo Henrik Aubert

      If one of the major tasks of studying medievalism is to provide a basis for the self-critique of modern disciplines dealing with (what they construe as) medieval objects, then medieval musicology constitutes a very promising, and little explored, field of observation.¹ This article will present the results of a study devoted to one of the most fundamental branches of the discipline since its inception: the paleography of early medieval notation. It will do so by moving back to the vast pre-history of the musicological discourse on notation, starting in the sixteenth century and following discursive transformations up to the late...

    • Hereward the Dane and the English, But Not the Saxon: Kingsley’s Racial Anglo-Saxonism
      (pp. 89-118)
      Michael R. Kightley

      Charles Kingsley belongs to that particular class of nineteenth-century gentleman who was extraordinarily famous in his own time, but who has since faded into relative obscurity. When he is now remembered, it tends to be for his children’s book The Water-Babies, or for his controversial debate with John Henry Newman.¹ What is rarely remembered is that Kingsley held the Regius Chair of Modern History at Cambridge for nine years, starting in 1860.² “Modern History” meant post-classical, and so in these years, Kingsley engaged directly in the discourse of medieval English and Old North studies, producing a significant work of early...

    • From Romance to Ritual: Jessie L. Weston’s Gawain
      (pp. 119-144)
      Helen Brookman

      Jessie Laidlay Weston (1850–1928), an oft-maligned figure of controversy, is best known for her influential study that blended folklore and Arthurian myth, From Ritual to Romance (1920). Weston was also an active scholar, prolific translator, and popularizer of Arthurian texts. Her translations and other studies have received little modern scholarly attention, yet they reveal across their entirety a coherent medievalizing project that sought to shift popular opinion about many of the keystones of Arthurian studies. This project became centered on one of the most debated figures in Arthurian romance: Sir Gawain. The purpose of this article is to draw...

    • The Cinematic Sign of the Grail
      (pp. 145-160)
      J. Rubén Valdés Miyares

      One of the greatest challenges in modernizing medieval romances has been to represent the elusive image of the grail in film. From the earliest narratives the grail has been open to multiple significations. Thus, its Christian significance, which eventually turned it into the legendary Holy Grail, is not self-evident in the earliest surviving accounts, such as Chrétien de Troyes’ Le Conte du Graal or the anonymous Peredur from Wales. In those narratives it took different forms, ranging from a severed head or a stone, to a dish or a chalice, so that “the history of both the representation and identification...

    • Destructive Dominae: Women and Vengeance in Medievalist Films
      (pp. 161-190)
      Felice Lifshitz

      The representation of women in twentieth-century medievalist films has largely been ignored in previous scholarship, which has tended “to privilege the masculine experience.”¹ I propose here that, in the overall trajectory of medievalist film heroines over the course of the century, the dangerous (even bloodthirsty) femme fatale has been a key – albeit rare – character in the cinematic repertoire. She is far less common than various alternative, positively coded, types such as the eager helpmeets and passive beauty queens who assist and inspire heroes such as Robin Hood and El Cid.² Nevertheless, violently destructive, vengeful dominae (ruling women, or...

  6. III: Response

    • Neomedievalism Unplugged
      (pp. 191-206)
      Pamela Clements and Carol L. Robinson

      In recent articles discussing definitions of medievalism(s) and neomedievalism(s), several themes seem to reoccur; one of those themes is the question of the validity of such scholarship. Karl Fugelso, in his Editorial Note to Studies in Medievalism XX, notes that some medievalists consider neomedievalism to be “defending artificial borders that diminish medievalism without establishing valid alternatives”¹ while others question the “validity of neomedievalism.”² Whether neomedievalism is a subset of medievalism or something distinctive is still a matter of lively discussion; we hope to further that discussion by addressing four themes that have emerged in recent volumes of Studies in Medievalism...

  7. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 207-210)
  8. Back Matter
    (pp. 211-213)