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New Medieval Books: Medievalism

Five recently published books that deal with medievalism.

Medievalism: A Manifesto

By Richard Utz

Arc Humanities Press
ISBN: 9781942401025

Excerpt: This book is called a manifesto because it has an unapologetically political objective. I want to help reform the way we think about and practise our academic engagement with medieval culture, and I will use my observations as a medievalist and medievalism-ist over the last twenty-five years to offer ways in which we might reconnect with the general public that has allowed us to become, since the late nineteenth century, a rather exclusive clan of specialists communicating mostly with each other.

Many considerations have played a role in my decision to address this subject: most importantly, my experience of going back and forth across the Atlantic and living, teaching, and writing within different cultural and educational contexts for the study of the Middle Ages. As a result, much of my scholarship shows traces of an identity anchored both in places, traditions, and rituals dating back to medieval culture and also in manifestations spatially, temporally, and politically removed from medieval culture.

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Medievalism: A Critical History

By David Matthews

Boydell and Brewer
ISBN: 9781843844549

The field known as “medievalism studies” concerns the life of the Middle Ages after the Middle Ages. Originating some thirty years ago, it examines reinventions and reworkings of the medieval from the Reformation to postmodernity, from Bale and Leland to HBO’s Game of Thrones. But what exactly is it? An offshoot of medieval studies? A version of reception studies? Or a new form of cultural studies? Can such a diverse field claim coherence? Should it be housed in departments of English, or History, or should it always be interdisciplinary?

Review by Julia M. Smith: Matthews chooses to explore the field at points where strong interest and movement in medievalism erupted rather than a linear progression through a history of the field. As Matthews puts it, he offers “a meta-commentary on the study of medievalism of a kind which up until now has been lacking”. To discuss the multi-disciplinary nature of the medievalism, his book is arranged around specific cultural themes such as time, space, self, and scholarship. The book also focuses on several main historical eras—1600s acquisition of antiquities, 1840s rise of interest in the medieval during the Victorian era, WWI, and decline of medieval studies in late 20th century concurrent to a rise in interest in medievalism.

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The Cambridge Companion to Medievalism

Edited by Louis D’Arcens

Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 9781316091708

Includes to the following articles: “Medievalism in British poetry,” by Chris Jones; “Medievalism and architecture,” by John M. Ganim; “Medievalism and cinema,” by Bettina Bildhauer; “Musical medievalism and the harmony of the spheres,” by Helen Dell; “Participatory medievalism, role-playing, and digital gaming,” by Daniel T. Kline; “Early modern medievalism,” by Mike Rodman Jones; “Romantic medievalism,” by Clare A. Simmons; “Academic medievalism and nationalism,” by Richard Utz; “Medievalism and the ideology of war,” by Andrew Lynch; “Medievalism in Spanish America after independence,” by Nadia R. Altschul; “Neomedievalism and international relations,” by Bruce Holsinger; “Global medievalism and translation,” by Candace Barrington; “Medievalism and theories of temporality,” by Stephanie Trigg; and “Queer medievalisms,” by Tison Pugh

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Chivalry and the Medieval Past

Edited by Katie Stevenson and Barbara Gribling

Boydell Press
ISBN: 9781843839231

Excerpt: In late spring 1842 Queen Victoria and her consort Prince Albert hosted a medieval-themed costume ball. For inspiration they looked to the fourteenth century and chose to dress as Edward III, the most illustrious king of the ‘Age of Chivalry,’ and his wife, Philippa of Hainault. Edwin Landseer’s contemporary portrait commission is displayed on the cover of this book. Newspapers chronicling the event remarked on its chivalric splendour and paid particular attention to the costumes of the queen and prince and on the way in which they had recreated a medieval throne room from ‘authentic’ historical sources. Scholars have made much of Victoria’s decision to hold a ball with a medieval theme in the early years of her reign. The careful and ‘accurate’ recreation of Edward III’s court – which the Victorians considered to be the high point of chivalry – has been seen as reflecting Victoria’s own desire to depict her reign as a new golden age.

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Medieval Science Fiction

Edited by Carl Kears and James Paz

King’s College London Centre for Late Antique and Medieval Studies
ISBN: 9780953983889

Medieval Science Fiction brings two areas of study that have traditionally been kept apart into explosive contact. For the first time, it draws the historical literatures and cultures of the Middle Ages into the orbit of modern science fiction, aligning the cosmologies, technologies and wonders of the past with visions of the future.

Fourteen groundbreaking new essays, intended for medievalist and science fiction audiences alike, consider where, how and why ‘science’ and ‘fiction’ interact in medieval literature; they explore the ways in which works of modern science fiction illuminate medieval counterparts; but they also identify both the presence and absence of the medieval past in SF history and criticism. Contributors include medievalists and early modernists, science fiction critics and authors, historians of science and research astronomers, with each essay providing a unique perspective on the intersections between science, fiction and the medieval.

From the science and fictions of Beowulf to the medieval and post-medieval appearances of the Green Children of Woolpit; from time travel in the legend of the Seven Sleepers to the medievalism of Star Trek; from manmade marvels in medieval manuscripts to the blurring of medieval magic and futuristic technology in tales of the dying earth; from courtly love on Mars in the novels of E.R. Burroughs to a medieval aesthetic of science fiction called ‘catapunk’: these essays repeatedly rethink the simplistic divides that have been set up between modern and pre-modern texts. The variety of studies collected here uncover striking resonances across time and space while also revealing how the two most popular genres of today – science fiction and fantasy – have been constructed around conceptions, and misconceptions, about the Middle Ages.

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