Can We Be More Than the Middle Ages? Medievalism Studies and Medieval Studies (Roundtable)


Pedagogy & Professional / Cultural Studies and Media Studies

Michael Torregrossa (Independent Scholar)

Carl Sell (Independent Scholar)

Academics, in general, have embraced the study of popular culture in recent decades seeing value in both the texts they and their students experience on a daily basis as well as those works that held the attentions of previous generations. Complementing this movement, the academic study of medievalism has been viewed as a legitimate avenue of inquiry for just over forty years, and scholarship on medieval-themed art, comics, drama, fiction, film, games, and television programming has grown considerably over time. However, is the phenomenal success of Medievalism Studies more a curse than a blessing? Are Medieval Studies and its more traditional sub-disciplines as welcoming of this material as they appear? Is the pursuit of medievalisms a worthwhile endeavor or something capable of causing stigma or even harm to fall upon the researcher?

Through this roundtable, we seek to explore the answers to these and similar questions. Medievalisms are the lifeblood of our field. They create interest in the Middle Ages and keep its legacies alive despite our distances from the era in time and space, but does our fascination with this material come at a cost, one few are willing to pay? Can medievalists, of all levels, successfully integrate popular representations of the medieval into their research and careers, or must Medievalism Studies remain an outlier, a guilty pleasure rather than an appropriate option to further the field?

Medievalisms are the lifeblood of Medieval Studies. They create interest in the Middle Ages and keep its legacies alive despite our distances from the era in time and space, but does our fascination with this material come at a cost, one few are willing to pay? Can medievalists, of all levels, successfully integrate popular representations of the medieval into their research and careers, or must Medievalism Studies remain an outlier, a guilty pleasure rather than an appropriate option to further the field? Through this roundtable, we seek to explore the answers to these and similar questions.