Statement for Critical Race Theory and Medieval(ism) Studies

We, the Executive Board of the International Society for the Study of Medievalism (ISSM), stand against those medievalists who see “critical race theory as a kind of religious set of beliefs” and would never consider critical race theory to be “an extraordinarily vindictive set of beliefs in many of the people involved,” as described in a recent article published in The Times. Critical Race Theory is rooted in factual data and logic, having nothing to do with any sort of belief system. It is a term coined by law professor Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw (U.C.L.A. School of Law and Columbia Law School). It is not a subversive set of ideas or a religious cult. Any attacks against the fundamental rights of all marginalized groups, including BIPOC and AAPI, both within and without academia are racist and therefore also inhumane and unprofessional. We reaffirm our commitment to creating a more inclusive, accessible, and anti-racist world for all.

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Studies in Medievalism 31 (2022) published

Essays on the use, and misuse, of the Middle Ages for political aims.
Studies in Medievalism XXXI

Like its two immediate predecessors, this volume tackles the most pressing and contentious issue in medievalism studies: how the Middle Ages have been subsequently deployed for political ends. The six essays in the first section directly address that concern with regard to Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges’s contemporaneous responses to the 1871 Commune; the hypocrisy of the Robinhood App’s invocation of their namesake; misunderstood parallels and differences between the Covid-19 pandemic and medieval plagues; Peter Gill’s reworking of a major medieval Mystery play in his 2001 The York Realist; celebrations of medieval monks by the American alt-right; and medieval references in twenty-first-century novels by the American neo-Nazi Harold A. Covington. The approaches and conclusions of those essays are then tested in the second section’s seven articles as they examine widely discredited alt-right claims that strong kings ruled medieval Finland; Norse medievalism in WWI British and German propaganda; post-war Black appropriation of white jousting tournaments in the Antebellum South; early American references to the Merovingian Dynasty; Rudyard Kipling’s deployment of the Middle Ages to defend his beliefs; the reframing of St. Anthony by Agustina Bessa-Luís’s 1973 biography of him; and post-medieval Portuguese reworkings of the Goat-Foot-Lady and other medieval legends.

I: Politics and Medievalism (Studies)
—Public Medievalism: Fustel de Coulanges and the Case for “Diplomatic Negotiations” – Elizabeth Emery
—Rob from the Rich: The Neomedievalism of the Robinhood Stock App – Valerie B. Johnson
—Pandemic Politics: Deploying the Plague – M. J. Toswell
—Peter Gill and the Queering of The York Realist – Kevin J. Harty
—To be a Monkish Man: Medievalism, Monasticism, Education, and Gender in the United States’ Culture Wars – Jacob Doss
—Political Fictions: The “Aryan” Medievalisms of Harold A. Covington – Helen Young

II: Other Responses to Medievalism
—The Ancient Finnish Kings and their Swedish Archenemy: Nationalism, Conspiracy Theories, and Alt-Right Memes in Finnish Online Medievalism – Reima Välimäki and Heta Aali
—The Politics of Norse Medievalism in the British Press During the First World War – Grace Khuri
—A Tournament of Black Knights – Alexandria, Virginia, 1865 – Emancipationists Mobilize the Medieval – Whitney Leeson
—”Eternal Legends of the Crimes of Man”: The Merovingian Dynasty in Early American Media (1720-1820) – Gregory I. Halfond
—Writing, Men, Empire: Kipling’s Medievalist Imagination – Richard Utz
—Agustina Bessa-Luís’s Reinvention of St. António: A Loving Saint without an Altar – Ana Maria Machado
—Celtic Imaginary: From Medieval Dama-Pé-de-Cabra to Nineteenth-century Patriotic Versions – Angélica Varandas

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CFP: International Conference for the Study of Medievalism

2022 Conference: The Lost Provinces, or Lost and Found Medievalisms

October 20-22, 2022
Appalachian State University, Boone, NC*


The Lost Provinces, or
Lost and Found Medievalisms

Southern Appalachia has long been perceived as a region in the American margins, both materially and metaphorically. In colonial times it formed part of the frontier; in the modern era, it continues to lie at the edges of regional, political, cultural, and even historical consciousness. Within the Appalachian mountains in North Carolina, one discrete region in the northwest part of the state was even more marginalized prior to the 20th century: the Lost Provinces, separated from the rest of the state by the Eastern Continental Divide (with mountains towering up to 4,700 feet above sea level) which forms their eastern and southern borders. As Flatlanders liked to say, “the only way to get there was to be born there.”

In the public imaginary, the Middle Ages is similarly “lost” to us, bordered by the glories of Rome on one side and the European Renaissance on the other. Such perception is particularly apparent in popular medievalism which depicts a Dark Ages fraught with violence—particularly sexual violence—plague, superstition, and filth, features, incidentally, often associated with the Appalachian people.

In this spirit, we ask participants to examine how the “lost Middle Ages” has been found through various medievalisms past and present. We particularly welcome those that explore the following areas:

  • Medievalisms that purport to rediscover the lost relics of the Middle Ages (e. g., the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusader or The Davinci Code); medievalism and material culture
  • Medievalisms that return to the “lost” past (e. g., A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court or Timeline, Fuqua’s King Arthur—aka “the Untold True Story that Inspired the Legend”); medievalism and politics or political movements
  • Medievalisms that recover “lost” peoples or identities (e. g., representations of people of color in Legendborn or the queering of the Robin Hood legend in the Greenwode series); medievalism and issues of race, gender, sexuality, and gender identity; medievalism and games across media

However, we invite papers and presentations on all topics of medievalism, not limited to these suggested themes. We particularly welcome proposals from presenters in (or addressing topics related to) regions outside North America, Western Europe, and the Anglophone world.

Send paper and/or panel proposals (abstracts of 250-300 words each) by June 1, 2022 to Alexandra Sterling-Hellenbrand (hellenbranda@appstate.edu). Other members of the organizing committee include Alison Gulley, English (gulleyea@appstate.edu) and Mary Valante, History (valantema@appstate.edu)


*The conference will be hybrid, with both on-land and Zoom sessions. The plenary sessions will be in-person and streamed.

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CFP: “The Middle Ages as a Digital Experience”

Call for papers! “The Middle Ages as a Digital Experience” is our second conference following last year’s “Medievalisms on the Screen”. We invite 200-word abstracts on how the prevalence and weight of digital media conditions our approach to the medieval past. See all the details below! Abstracts should be sent to  medievalisms@ceu.edu no later than January 31st 2022.

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GLOBAL OUTLAWS: The Biennial Conference of the International Association for Robin Hood Studies

Date: 4-5 December 2021 (from 14.00 GMT ‘til late)
Medium: VIRTUAL (Zoom link)

medieval portrait of robin hood script

Sessions will feature: Medieval and Early Modern Robin Hoods; ‘Other’ Robin Hoods; ‘Modern’ Interpretations of Robin Hood; Robin Hood and Twenty-first Century Media

*If you would like to attend (via Zoom), or for further information and a full conference schedule please contact the co-hosts:

Dr. Lesley Coote FHEA, (coote081@gmail.com) and
Dr. Stephen Basdeo, FHEA, (stephen.basdeo@outlook.com)

They will provide a link closer to the conference date.

In the tradition of Robin Hood himself, and of other ‘Robin Hoods’, the conference will be a free event, with no charge for registration.

*(This does not apply to speakers or moderators, as we have your contacts already!)

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