Uncharted Medievalisms: Revealing the Medieval in Popular Fiction and Games (Panel)


Cultural Studies and Media Studies / Comparative Literature

Michael Torregrossa (Independent Scholar)

Carl Sell (Independent Scholar)

As Umberto Eco once observed, “people like the Middle Ages,” and medievalism flourishes across the globe, with medievalist settings and ideologies used in popular, fictional settings that are widely known in their respective communities. However, critical exploration of these medievalisms has been lacking, save for the most common such settings, like Lewis’s Narnia, Le Guin’s Earthsea, Martin’s Westeros, and Tolkien’s Middle-earth. Consequently, this panel proposes to examine the extent to which medievalism is used by other, perhaps less well-trodden settings, including, but not limited to, the worlds of Dungeons & Dragons, Chaosium’s rereleased Pendragon RPG, and Terry Brooks’s Shannara and Terry Goodkind’s The Sword of Truth series; the Old World and 41st Millennium of Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000; the video game realities of Diablo, Elder Scrolls, Final Fantasy, Fire Emblem, and Warcraft; and similar popular shared worlds of other board games, comics, fiction, RPGs, and video games. Critical explorations of the ways that these settings use and add to medievalism(s), including the more famous worlds, are encouraged.

Medievalism may flourish across the globe, but, with only a few notable exceptions, critical exploration of much popular fiction with medievalist settings and ideologies has been lacking. To expand this discussion, this panel proposes to examine the extent to which medievalism is used by other, perhaps less well-trodden settings, such as board games, comics, fiction series, role-playing games, and video games. Critical explorations of the ways that these settings use and add to medievalism(s), including the more famous worlds, are encouraged.