Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Kalamazoo is Now

The annual International Congress on Medieval Studies is being held this week on the grounds of Western Michigan University, and we are fortunate to have had a session accepted for inclusion on Thursday night. Please try to attend if you can.

Details are as follows:

51st International Congress on Medieval Studies
Western Michigan University (Kalamazoo, MI)
Thursday, 12 May, 7:30 PM
Session 164 (Bernhard 158)

More Middle Ages on Screen? Reconsidering The Reel Middle Ages (A Roundtable)
Sponsor: Virtual Society for the Study of Popular Culture and the Middle Ages
Organizer: Michael A. Torregrossa, Virtual Society for the Study of Popular Culture and the Middle Ages

Presider: Susan L. Aronstein, Univ. of Wyoming

Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven (2005): Medieval History as Caricature
June-Ann Greeley, Sacred Heart Univ.

Postmodern Medieval: BBC’s Robin Hood Series (2006–09)
Mikee Delony, Abilene Christian Univ.

What’s Love Got to Do with It?: Kevin Reynold’s Tristan & Isolde (2006)
Kate McGrath, Central Connecticut State Univ.

The Legend Continues: Exploring the Development of Arthur in Guy Ritchie’s The Knights of the Round Table: King Arthur (2016)
Kayla Sanderson, Abilene Christian Univ.

The Association is also organizing a session on medieval TV for MAPACA this November in Atlantic City, and we hope to run a session at next year's Medieval Congress on medieval-themed anime, magna, and related electronic games. 

Our book projects are on hold at present. Please wait to be contacted about updates.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Updates February 2016

I am pleased to announce that effective 1 March 2016, the Virtual Society for the Study of Popular Culture and the Middle Ages is now the Association for the Advancement of Scholarship and Teaching of the Medieval in Popular Culture under the direction of founder Michael A. Torregrossa. I believe that the new name better reflects our purpose as an organization as it has evolved since 2004.

Changes to the sites will begin today and should be completed this spring. Some links may no longer work in the interim. I apologize for any issues as we reconfigure our presence on the web.

Michael A. Torregrossa
Founder and Blog-Editor, The Association for the Advancement of Scholarship and Teaching of the Medieval in Popular Culture

Monday, February 15, 2016

Carolyne Larrington on Game of Thrones

Now available: 

Winter is Coming: The Medieval World of Game of Thrones
Carolyne Larrington
Paperback | In Stock | £12.99

Imprint: I.B.Tauris
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd

ISBN: 9781784532567
Publication Date: 30 Nov 2015
Number of Pages: 288
Height: 198
Width: 129
Illustrations: 40 bw integrated

Game of Thrones is a phenomenon. As Carolyne Larrington reveals in this essential companion to George R R Martin's fantasy novels and the HBO mega-hit series based on them the show is the epitome of water-cooler TV. It is the subject of intense debate in national newspapers; by PhD students asking why Westeros has yet to see an industrial revolution, or whether astronomy explains the continent's climatic problems and unpredictable solstices ('winter is coming'); and by bloggers and cultural commentators contesting the series' startling portrayals of power, sex and gender. Yet no book has divulged how George R R Martin constructed his remarkable universe out of the Middle Ages. Discussing novels and TV series alike, Larrington explores among other topics: sigils, giants, dragons and direwolves in medieval texts; ravens, old gods and the Weirwood in Norse myth; and a gothic, exotic orient in the eastern continent, Essos. From the White Walkers to the Red Woman, from Casterley Rock to the Shivering Sea, this is an indispensable guide to the twenty-first century's most important fantasy creation.

Kalamazoo 2016 Round Table

Here are the details of our sponsored round table session for this year's Medieval Congress:

51st International Congress on Medieval Studies
Western Michigan University (Kalamazoo, MI)
Thursday, 12 May, 7:30 PM
Session 164 (Bernhard 158)

More Middle Ages on Screen? Reconsidering The Reel Middle Ages (A Roundtable)
Sponsor: Virtual Society for the Study of Popular Culture and the Middle Ages
Organizer: Michael A. Torregrossa, Virtual Society for the Study of Popular Culture and the Middle Ages

Presider: Susan L. Aronstein, Univ. of Wyoming

Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven (2005): Medieval History as Caricature
June-Ann Greeley, Sacred Heart Univ.

Postmodern Medieval: BBC’s Robin Hood Series (2006–09)
Mikee Delony, Abilene Christian Univ.

What’s Love Got to Do with It?: Kevin Reynold’s Tristan & Isolde (2006)
Kate McGrath, Central Connecticut State Univ.

The Legend Continues: Exploring the Development of Arthur in Guy Ritchie’s The Knights of the Round Table: King Arthur (2016)
Kayla Sanderson, Abilene Christian Univ.

The full program can be accessed at

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Helen Young's Fantasy and Science Fiction Medievalisms

Another new book of interest to our endeavors. 

Fantasy and Science Fiction Medievalisms: From Isaac Asimov to A Game of Thrones
by Helen Young

This book is in the Cambria Studies in Classicism, Orientalism, and Medievalism book series (General Editor: Nickolas A. Haydock).

Book ISBN: 9781604978964
Pages: 238
Publication Date: June 18, 2015
Dimensions: 6 x 9 in or 229 x 152 mm Case Laminate
Price: $ 104.99 (ebook options also available)

From advertisements to amusement parks, themed restaurants, and Renaissance fairs twenty-first century popular culture is strewn with reimaginings of the Middle Ages. They are nowhere more prevalent, however, than in the films, television series, books, and video games of speculative genres: fantasy and science fiction. Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies and George R. R. Martin’s multimedia Game of Thrones franchise are just two of the most widely known and successful fantasy conglomerates of recent decades. Medievalism has often been understood as a defining feature of fantasy, and as the antithesis of science fiction, but such constructs vastly underestimate the complexities of both genres and their interactions. “Medieval” has multiple meanings in fantasy and science fiction, which shift with genre convention, and which bring about their own changes as authors and audiences engage with what has gone before in the recent and deeper pasts.

For several decades after medievalism was established as a field of legitimate scholarly inquiry in the 1980s and 1990s, popular culture iterations were largely viewed with some suspicion if not outright disdain. The twenty-first century, however, has seen growing recognition of the importance of what has been termed the “neomedieval”: medievalisms which playfully reimagine the past rather than attempting historically accurate re-creation.

Science fiction and fantasy, with their necessarily impossible worlds, are perhaps the ultimate in neomedievalism. Earlier volumes have examined some of the ways in which contemporary popular culture re-imagines the Middle Ages, offering broad overviews, but none considers fantasy, science fiction, or the two together. The focused approach of this collection provides a directed pathway into the myriad medievalisms of modern popular culture. By engaging directly with genre(s), this book acknowledges that medievalist creative texts and practices do not occur in a vacuum, but are shaped by multiple cultural forces and concerns; medievalism is never just about the Middle Ages.

Studies of genres, moreover, often focus on a single medium—fiction, film, or television. Each section, and some individual chapters in the volume explores at least two, reflecting the multimedia nature of contemporary popular culture in general and genres in particular. By exploring the way medievalist discourses travel and shift across media within connected genres, the volume explores some of their internal complexities.

Studies of popular genres illuminate social and cultural trends and concerns, while medievalisms reveal far more about the milieu in which they were created than they do about the Middle Ages. By exploring how popular genres develop, pulling on and being pushed by changing approaches to “the medieval,” this collection sheds light on twenty-first century popular culture’s dynamic and at times conflicting moves, and those of the society which creates and consumes it. Individual chapters take diverse approaches, both synchronic and diachronic, some offering detailed case studies and others broader reviews of themes and trends. The variety enables a detailed picture of the complexities of fantasy and science fiction medievalisms to emerge.

The first section explores the reception of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, the two chapters together demonstrate that fantasy’s “Tolkienian” medievalism is not that of a single author, but of many readers and creators making and remaking it in different media. The second shows that the dark and dirty medievalism of Game and Thrones and the subgenre of gritty fantasy is complex and at times contradictory. It illustrates the impact of market trends and forces on popular culture texts and the ways they are understood to engage with the past. The third section demonstrates that medievalism has been at the heart of science fiction since the ‘Golden Age’ of the 1960s, and illustrates that use of medieval material and reference points connects it with fantasy as much as it separates the two genres. The final chapter shows that in the twenty-first century, fantasy definitions of medievalisms are expanding to include more than just references to the European Middle Ages which have long been conventional in the genre.

Fantasy and Science Fiction Medievalisms will be of much interest to scholars of fantasy and science fiction, and of medievalism.

Table of Contents

Introduction (Helen Young)

Part I: The Afterlives of Middle-earth

Chapter 1: Low-Culture Receptions of Tolkien’s High Fantasy: “You Can’t Always Get What You Want…” (Chris Bishop)

Chapter 2: Tolkien After Tolkien: Medieval and Medievalist Intertexts in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings (Margarita Carretero-González)

Part II: Dirt and Grit

Chapter 3: Rewriting the Fantasy Archetype: George R. R. Martin, Neomedievalist Fantasy, and the Quest for Realism (Shiloh Carroll)

Chapter 4: Grim and Grimdark (Gillian Polack)

Chapter 5: Our minds are in the gutter, but some of us are watching Starz…: Sex, Violence and Dirty Medievalism (Andrew Elliott)

Part III: Science Fiction Medievalisms

Chapter 6: Empire and After: Science Fiction’s Medievalism in the Golden Age and Beyond (Donald Riggs)

Chapter 7: Sword and Science: Science Fiction Interpretations of Medieval Arthurian Literature and Legend in Stargate SG-1 (Steven Gil)

Part IV: Expanding the Medieval

Chapter 8: The Arabian Nights in Twenty-First Century Fantasy Fiction and Film (Kris Swank)

Chapter 9: Moving Beyond Tolkien’s Medievalism Through Robin Hobb’s Farseer and Tawny Man Trilogies (Geoffrey B. Elliott)

Works Cited


About Helen Young

Helen Young is an Honorary Associate of the Department of English at the University of Sydney, Australia. She holds a PhD in English Literature from the University of Sydney and a Bachelor of Arts/Creative Arts from the University of Wollongong. Her other publications include Race in Popular Fantasy Fiction: Habits of Whiteness and The Middle Ages in Popular Culture: Medievalism and Genre, as well as articles in journals including Studies in Medievalism, Extrapolation, and Games and Culture.

About the Contributors

Chris Bishop is Lecturer in Classics at the Australian National University. Dr. Bishop’s previous publications include Text and Transmission in Medieval Europe and articles in journals such as Studies in Medievalism, Neuphilologische Mitteilungen, and the International Journal of Cultural Studies.

Margarita Carretero-González is Senior Lecturer in English Literature at the English and German Department of the University of Granada (Spain). She has published both nationally and internationally on J.R.R. Tolkien, fantasy fiction, children’s literature, film adaptations, ecocriticism and ecofeminism.

Shiloh Carroll holds a PhD in English from Middle Tennessee State University. Her previous publications have appeared in George R.R. Martin and the Medieval Literary Tradition, Slayage, Mythlore, and The Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts.

Andrew B.R. Elliott is Senior Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Lincoln (UK). He is author of Remaking the Middle Ages: The Methods of Cinema and History in Portraying the Medieval World and editor of Playing with the Past: Digital Games and the Simulation of History and The Return of the Epic Film: Genre, Aesthetics and History in the 21st Century.

Geoffrey B. Elliott is Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma. He earned his PhD and MA at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and his work has been published in CCC, The Explicator, Studies in Fantasy Literature, and online.

Steven Gil holds a PhD in Cultural History and his publications include articles in The Australasian Journal of Popular Culture, New Review of Film and Television Studies, and Thesis Eleven. Dr. Gil is the Science Area Chair for the Popular Culture Association of Australia and New Zealand (PopCAANZ), and the Science & Popular Culture Area Cochair for the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association (PCA/ACA).

Gillian Polack has doctorates in history and in English and a Master of Arts in medieval studies. She is a writer and a historian and is based at the Australian National University, Canberra, Australia. Her publications include The Middle Ages Unlocked and Five Historical Feasts.

Don Riggs is Professor of English at Drexel University and holds a PhD in comparative literature from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. His previous publications include Bilateral Asymmetry: Poems and Uncommonplaces: Poems of the Fantastic, as well as articles in journals including Journal for the Fantastic in the Arts, Journal of Modern Literature, Extrapolation, and The Sixteenth Century Journal.

Kris Swank is Library Director at Pima Community College. She holds an MLS from the University of Arizona, an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management, and an MA in English with a concentration in Tolkien Studies at Mythgard Institute. Her essays on fantasy literature have appeared in Tolkien Studies, Mythlore, and she has written for Library Journal, American Libraries, and other professional library publications.

Helen Young's The Middle Ages in Popular Culture

An interesting new collection with a number of pieces of relevance.

The Middle Ages in Popular Culture: Medievalism and Genre
by Helen Young

This book is in the Cambria Studies in Classicism, Orientalism, and Medievalism book series (General Editor: Nickolas A. Haydock).

Book ISBN: 9781604978971
Pages: 240
Publication Date: July 08, 2015
Dimensions: 6 x 9 in or 229 x 152 mm Case Laminate
Price: $ 104.99 (ebook options also available)

Contemporary Western society is in the midst of an efflorescence of medievalism, from political rhetoric to the names of sports teams, advertising, and themed restaurants, to the pages and screens of popular culture. Medievalism in the twenty-first century is layered, folding into itself the practices, processes, and representations of earlier eras, as well as those of the time and place in which it is produced. Reimagining history for mass consumption has as much, if not more, to do with the needs and wants of the present than with any historical reality. Profit and pleasure define popular culture, and genres are a major framework organizing the making of both: creative industries use them to make the former, and consumers to help find the latter. When the Middle Ages are reimagined in popular-culture contexts, they are shaped by the genre in which any individual creative work is produced and consumed. The nexus of medievalism and popular genres is the focus of this collection, which interrogates the interplay between past and present in mass culture.

Studies of popular culture medievalisms have not, to date, examined the interconnections of the two in any organized fashion, yet genre is a major framework structuring representation, production, consumption, and the making of meaning in popular culture. The conventions of any genre shape, even if they do not entirely circumscribe, what is possible in any constitutive creative work—this is as true of medievalism as it is of any other element—while genres themselves are shaped by the anxieties of the society which creates them. Given that a high proportion of today’s popular culture medievalisms are filtered through genre, this volume’s exploration of their interconnections sheds light not only on the nature of both, but on social issues and identity constructs of the present cultural moment.

Rather than focusing on the medievalism of a single genre, this volume puts multiple genres in dialogue and considers both medievalism and genre to be frameworks from which meaning can be produced. Chapters in it explore works from a wide range of genres—children’s and young adult, historical, cyberpunk, fantasy, science fiction, romance, and crime—and across multiple media—fiction, film, television, video games, and music. The range of media types and genres enable comparison, and the identification of overarching trends, while also allowing comparison of contrasting phenomena.

As the first volume to explore the nexus of medievalism and genre across such a wide range of texts, this collection illustrates the fractured ideologies of contemporary popular culture. The Middle Ages are more usually, and often more prominently, aligned with conservative ideologies, for example around gender roles, but the Middle Ages can also be the site of resistance and progressive politics. Exploring the interplay of past and present, and the ways writers and readers work engage with them demonstrates the conscious processes of identity construction at work throughout Western popular culture. The collection also demonstrates that while scholars may have by-and-large abandoned the concept of accuracy when considering contemporary medievalisms, the Middle Ages are widely associated with authenticity, and the authenticity of identity, in the popular imagination; the idea of the real Middle Ages matters, even when historical realities do not.

The Middle Ages in Popular Culture: Medievalism and Genre will be of interest to scholars of medievalism, popular culture, and genre.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Multiple Middle Ages (Helen Young)

Chapter 1. Female Protagonists in Arthurian Television for the Young: Gendering Camelot (Clare Bradford and Rebecca Hutton)

Chapter 2. Women of the Cinematic Middle Ages in Red Riding Hood and Brave: Marriage or Monsters (Judy Ford)

Chapter 3. Medievalism and the Courtship Plot in Julie Garwood’s Popular Romance Novels (Geneva Diamond)

Chapter 4. The Authenticity of Intersectionality in Nicola Griffith’s Hild (Robin Anne Reid)

Chapter 5. Reinventing the Past in European Neo-medieval Music (Alana Bennett)

Chapter 6. Neomedievalism and the Epic in Assassin’s Creed: The Hero’s Quest (Elisabeth Herbst Buzay and Emmanuel Buzay)

Chapter 7. The Cyberpunk Road away from Middle-earth toward Virtual Atonement: A Quest-Pilgrimage and Surgical-Torture of Transient Transcendence between the Boundaries of Gender and Sexuality in William Gibson’s Fiction and the Wachowski Sibling’s Films (Carol Robinson )

Chapter 8. Medievalism, the Detective, and the Quest for Whodunnit (Anne McKendry)

Chapter 9. King Arthur and the Knights of the Postmodern Fable: Folding the Dead (Molly Brown)



About Helen Young

Helen Young is an Honorary Associate of the Department of English at the University of Sydney, Australia. She holds a PhD in English Literature from the University of Sydney and a Bachelor of Arts/Creative Arts from the University of Wollongong. Her other publications include Race in Popular Fantasy Fiction: Habits of Whiteness and Fantasy and Science-Fiction Medievalisms: From Isaac Asimov to A Game of Thrones, as well as articles in journals including Studies in Medievalism, Extrapolation, and Games and Culture.

About the contributors

Alana Bennett is an MA student and future Wolfson-funded doctoral candidate at the University of York. She holds a BA (Honours) from the University of Western Australia, where she has also lectured and taught. She has previously published with Limina Journal and is a cofounder of Ceræ Journal.

Clare Bradford is the Alfred Deakin Professor at Deakin University in Melbourne. Her books include Reading Race: Aboriginality in Australian Children’s Literature, which won the ChLA Book Award and the IRSCL Award; Unsettling Narratives: Postcolonial Readings of Children’s Literature; New World Orders in Contemporary Children’s Literature: Utopian Transformations; and The Middle Ages in Children’s Literature. She has published over eighty book chapters and journal articles in journals including Ariel, Children’s Literature, Australian Literary Studies, and Children’s Literature Association Quarterly.

Molly Brown is a Professor and Head of the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Pretoria and her primary research interest is in fantasy whether written for adults or children. She teaches an Honors course in children’s literature and has supervised postgraduate research in the field. She has delivered papers at various international conferences and has published articles in a number of peer-reviewed journals including The Lion and the Unicorn, Mousaion, The English Academy Review and Papers: Explorations into Children’s Literature.

Emmanuel Buzay is a visiting assistant professor in the French and the Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies sections of the Department of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages at the University of Connecticut. He holds a PhD from the University of Connecticut, a D.E.A. from the Université de Paris XIII–Villetaneuse, and a Maîtrise from the Université de Paris III–Sorbonne Nouvelle. Dr. Buzay has published in journals such as Contemporary French & Francophone Studies: SITES, Nouvelles Francographies, and Sciences Humaines and has given talks at several of the International Colloquia of 20th and 21st Century French and Francophone Studies and several of the SPFFA Colloquia.

Geneva Diamond is an assistant professor of English literature at Albany State University, Georgia. She holds a PhD, two MAs, and a BA from the University of Kansas. She has presented on medievalism in Harlequin romance novels and Julie Garwood romance heroines at the Georgia Medievalists Group Conference and the Kalamazoo International Congress on Medieval Studies.

Judy Ann Ford is a professor of history at Texas A&M University–Commerce. She holds a PhD and an MA from Fordham University and a BA from St. John’s University in New York City. Dr. Ford’s scholarship focuses on both popular religion in late medieval and early modern England and on modern fictional representations of the Middle Ages, especially those of J. R. R. Tolkien. She has published in several journals including Tolkien Studies, Journal of Popular Culture, and Renaissance and Reformation. Dr. Ford also codirected two National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institutes for School Teachers on Tolkien.

Elisabeth Herbst Buzay is a PhD student in the French section of the Department of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages at the University of Connecticut. She holds a D.E.A. from the Université de Paris III–Sorbonne Nouvelle, a Maîtrise from the Université de Paris IV–Sorbonne, and BA’s from the University of Chicago. Herbst Buzay has published in L’Esplumeoir and given talks at the 49th International Conference on Medieval Studies and the 2015 International Colloquium of 20th and 21st Century French and Francophone Studies.

Rebecca Hutton is a PhD candidate in the School of Communication and Creative Arts at Deakin University, Melbourne. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and BA (Honours) from Deakin. She has authored or coauthored papers on young adult texts that have been published in Interjuli, The Encounters: Place, Situation, Context Papers, and Deletion.

Anne McKendry holds a PhD from the University of Melbourne and an MA from the University of Sydney. Her publications include “Mateship in the Middle Ages: The Australianness of William Wallace, William Thatcher, and Robin Longstride” in International Medievalism and Popular Culture, edited Louise D’Arcens and Andrew Lynch (Cambria, 2014).

Robin Anne Reid is a Professor in the Department of Literature and Languages at Texas A&M University–Commerce. Her teaching areas are creative writing, critical theory, and marginalized literatures. Her research interests include queer theory, intersectionality, digital literary studies, fan studies, and Tolkien studies. Dr. Reid edited the first encyclopedia on Women in Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Carol L. Robinson is an associate professor at Kent State University. She holds a PhD and an MA from the University of Georgia. Her research interests include medievalism, film, video games and American Deaf culture literature. Her publications include Neomedievalism in the Media: Essays on Film, Television, and Electron Games as well as articles in journals such as Studies in Medievalism.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

CFP Conference Call for Papers: World Cinema and Television in French (proposals by 3/1/2016; U of Cincinnati 9/9-10/2016)

Of potential interest:

Conference Call for Papers: World Cinema and Television in French
Discussion published by Michael Gott on Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Call for Papers:
World Cinema and Television in French
September 9-10, 2016 ∙ University of Cincinnati, USA

Sponsored by Contemporary French Civilization, The University of Cincinnati & The University of Rhode Island
Confirmed Keynote Speaker: Bill Marshall (University of Stirling)
Confirmed Roundtable Participants: Joseph Mai (Clemson University), Mireille Rosello (University of Amsterdam), Sylvie Durmelat (Georgetown University), Thibaut Schilt (College of the Holy Cross)

This interdisciplinary conference will examine cinematic and televisual cultural productions that fall under a broad ‘French-language’ umbrella in order to map out significant trends as well as new directions in the study of global French-language cinema and television and its points of contact with other languages and industries. It also aims to explore the opportunities and limitations of adopting labels such as cinéma-monde, transnational, Francophone, and World Cinema, as critical frameworks.

The conference will conclude with a round table that will bring together ideas raised during the conference.

We invite proposals in French or English for single papers and panels. Topics may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • New Francophone spaces in world cinema and television
  • Transnational television and cinema in French (or partly in French)
  • Screen media and/or digital media in the French-speaking world
  • The notion of cinéma-monde or cinéma(s)-monde(s)
  • Parameters, boundaries, and definitions of French-language and/or French cinema
  • “Hubs” and emerging or overlooked  sites of French-language cinema (Montreal, Belgium, Chad)
  • Film and television industries (production and/or reception of French-language cinema and television, funding sources, industry practices, etc.)
  • Circuits and institutions of marketing and dissemination of French-language cinema (international and regional film festivals, cinema houses, etc.)
  • International auteurs working in Paris or international auteurs not based in Paris but making films in French/in France (Aki Kaurismäki, Ursula Meier, Merzak Allouache, Amos Gitai, etc.)
  • Directors whose work has intersected various Francophone spaces
  • Linguistic issues and parameters of “French-language cinema”, non-French productions containing French dialogue, French productions with little or no French in them, multilingual cinema
  • Interaction with and competition from English and points of contact with other languages in the Middle East, Africa, the Maghreb, and elsewhere
  • Antecedents to contemporary World cinema in French
  • Teaching French-language cinema to students who do not speak French

Conference participants will be invited to submit their papers for a special issue on the conference theme that will be published inContemporary French Civilization.

The deadline for abstracts (300 words) is March 1, 2016. Please send abstracts and a short bio as a single attachment

Please contact Michael Gott ( or Leslie Kealhofer-Kemp ( with any questions.

Scientific Committee:
Sylvie Durmelat (Georgetown University)
Michael Gott (University of Cincinnati)
Leslie Kealhofer-Kemp (University of Rhode Island)
Joseph Mai (Clemson University)
Thérèse Migraine-George (University of Cincinnati)
Mireille Rosello (University of Amsterdam)
Thibaut Schilt (College of the Holy Cross)

Sponsored by The University of Cincinnati Center for Film and Media Studies and Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, The University of Rhode Island, and Contemporary French Civilization

CFP Essay Collection on The Hobbit in Fiction and Film (proposals by 12/1/2015)

Head's up from H-Film:

CFP: Essay Collection on The Hobbit in Fiction and Film (working title) with McFarland publisher
Discussion published by Janice Bogstad on Friday, October 2, 2015

COMPARING JACKSON’S The Hobbit FILMS TO TOLKIEN’s NOVEL: : Text into Film   Edited by Dr. Janice M Bogstad

 Call for papers for an essay collection -12-15 essays of 6000-8,000 words in length.

The deadline for receipt of an abstract, for consideration, is Dec 1, 2015. Final manuscripts are due March 1, 2016 with encouragement for earlier submission.  Contact me to discuss exceptions.

Send Abstracts and address queries to:  
Dr. Janice M. Bogstad, Professor  715-836-6032
(McIntyre Library U of Wisconsin-Eau Claire   Eau Claire, WI  54702-5010

Manuscripts will be reviewed in a double-blind process by peer reviewers after having been tentatively accepted by the editor.

The collection will consider comparisons between Tolkien’s original Hobbit and the three Jackson films.  Of interest are structural parallels and differences, changes in character-focus from the book to the films, and considerations of philosophical differences in the overall message of Tolkien’s original book and Jackson’s films, but other well-supported arguments will also be considered.  As with the previously published essay collection, Picturing Tolkien (McFarland 2011), this collection will focus on positive comparisons. Essayists may wish to discuss features of the film that are, in their judgment, less successful, but will be asked to hold condemnation of the cinematic text simply on the basis of its differences from the textual narrative.  Authors may decide to focus on the films or the novel but the primary focus is comparative features of both.  Contribution to Tolkien scholarship can be articulated with two concepts:  its audience is the informed reader, not only the Tolkien, literary or film critic.  Its basic framework is in respect of co-measurability, that the books and the films are co-creations with parallel structures that intersect at certain points.  Each should be examined and compared as if those comparisons and intersections are significant to understanding contemporary Tolkien studies.

CFP History Channel's Vikings Collection (proposals 6/1/2016)

Courtesy Tim Rayborn:

New anthology on the Vikings television show

McFarland Publishers, an independent book publisher devoted to a wide variety of topics, including history, sports, and pop culture, is releasing a collection of essays on the History Channel’s television series "Vikings." I will act as editor, being a medievalist and having an interest in Northern European culture and history. I have written three books for McFarland (two available now and one published early next year), and am a professional performer of early music.

Entering its fourth season in 2016, the show has a large and growing audience of fans, though it also has detractors and critics, mainly for its tendency to take liberties with historical events and details. However, it does make use of period languages, and is known for its cinematography.

In assembling a collection of essays, I am looking for a considerable variety of topics, including history, sociology, pop culture studies, gender studies, etc. Possible subjects might include:

  • Historical vs. onscreen representations of events, people, etc. The show often mixes elements together from different accounts. The point here would not be to overly criticize the series for its departures from history, but rather to examine differences and perhaps investigate why certain changes were made.
  • Representations in the show of everyday life, such as food, drink, farming, and domestic activities.
  • A study of Ragnar’s Saga and related accounts.
  • Sexuality in the show, from both pagan and Christian perspectives.
  • How religion is portrayed in various episodes, including Ragnar’s vision of Odin in the first episode, the events at Uppsala, Floki’s “Heathen fundamentalism,” Christian imagery in France and England, scenes such as the Viking blessing of the crops in Anglo-Saxon England, and Ragnar’s “funeral” at Paris.
  • Related to the previous topic, a study of the character of Æthelstan and Anglo-Saxon monasticism in general (at Lindisfarne and elsewhere) would be welcome.
  • Representations of women in the show. Viking women such as Lagertha, Siggy, Aslaug, Porunn, Helga, as well as Saxon and French women (such as Judith and Princess Gisla) are all worthy of further study, perhaps contrasting these characters with historical information.
  • Sociological studies would be welcome, such as why the show is so popular now (the trailer for Season Four was a hit at San Diego Comic-Con 2015, and has some 850,000 views on YouTube; the show routinely has more than 4 million weekly viewers), and which themes seem to resonate with modern viewers.

The point of this anthology is to view the show for its own merits, understanding that it is a mixture of history, saga literature, fiction, and anachronism, all of which gives it its own unique flavor. Critical essays, rather than merely criticism, are what we seek. Ideally, potential contributors would want to view the upcoming Season Four (premiering in March, 2016) to include aspects of it in their articles, though there are certainly enough topics to begin work now, and to propose subjects of study.

Essays must be in English, fully cited with end notes, and bibliography, all in accordance with the current Chicago Manual of Style. The length of each contribution should be between about 5,000 and 10,000 words, unless there is a good reason that a given essay should be shorter or longer. Please use clear, concise writing.

Peer review will be conducted after the collection is submitted, currently scheduled for September 1, 2016.

Accordingly, the deadline for article submission is June 1, 2016. Submissions before that deadline are, of course, most welcome and helpful.

If contributors wish to include images not in public domain or text excerpts from copyrighted materials requiring written permission to reproduce, they will be expected to obtain such permissions on their own, and pay the required reproduction fees (if needed). McFarland cannot reimburse for this expense. I will need hard copies of each such permission. McFarland also discourages the use of quotations of dialogue from individual episodes, as well as images/screen captures, as these require additional permission/fees from the television network and can delay publication.

Potential contributors should submit a one- to two-page proposal including a potential title, a short description/abstract of the topic(s) for your essay, a brief summary of your background and qualifications, and contact information.

Please email your proposals to me at:

Thank you for your time and interest, and I look forward to receiving and reading your proposals.

Best wishes,

Tim Rayborn

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

CFP More Middle Ages on Screen? Reconsidering The Reel Middle Ages (A Roundtable) (9/15/2015; ICMS Kalamazoo 5/12-15/2016)

More Middle Ages on Screen? Reconsidering The Reel Middle Ages (A Roundtable)
Sponsored by the Virtual Society for the Study of Popular Culture and the Middle Ages
51st International Congress on Medieval Studies
Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan
12-15 May 2016
Proposals due by 15 September 2015

Like many disciplines in the humanities, Medieval Studies is often challenged about its relevance in the contemporary world. One way to respond to these concerns is to not just engage our classes with the historic medieval past of centuries ago but also with the various medieval presents of today that are depicted in medievalisms found in popular culture, especially in film, television programming, and electronic games, the media most familiar to the current generation of students. To do this, medievalists need have the proper tools to help them to access and engage this material. Kevin J. Harty’s The Reel Middle Ages: American, Western and Eastern European, Middle Eastern and Asian Films about Medieval Europe, published in 1999, offered a great resource to do this, yet there remains a lot of additional work to be done with regards to assessing the full extent of how the entertainment industries have appropriated and re-presented the Middle Ages for modern audiences.

For example, by limiting his catalog to only feature and television films set in the medieval past, Harty missed the opportunity to introduce his readers to the larger picture of popular medievalisms on screen that includes theatrical shorts, the greater body of televisual material, and electronic games, all depicting some version of the Middle Ages, as well as works that use the medieval anachronistically or as the inspiration for secondary worlds. In addition, Harty’s book covered material produced only up to 1996, and, while the work was reprinted in paperback in 2006, its data has not been updated in almost 20 years despite the proliferation of medievalisms on screen in the late 1990s and early twenty-first century. Studies that have followed Harty do attempt to compensate for some of his omissions, but essential filmographic and bibliographic information, such as that provided by Harty and that should serve as the start of any research inquiry into medievalisms on screen, remains lacking for these areas with the notable exception of Arthurian-themed material, as Arthurian Studies (Harty’s primary discipline and the first to benefit from his efforts) remains the one field of Medieval Studies most interested in cataloging its representations on screen.

In furtherance of the mission of the Virtual Society for the Study of Popular Culture and the Middle Ages, the goal of this roundtable session is to revisit and expand the ground-breaking work done by Harty by presenting a wider (if not the widest possible) portrait of Medieval Studies on screen by both offering new texts for discussion and reclaiming older ones that have been previously neglected by medievalists. We hope that a greater understanding and appreciation of the complete corpus of medievalisms on screen will benefit our teaching and scholarship and result in more thoughtful reflections on the reception of the medieval past through the contemporary interpretations of Middle Ages most known to the general public.
Presentations will be limited to 10-15 minutes depending on panel size, and the Virtual Society for the Study of Popular Culture and the Middle Ages asks that accepted presenters submit their completed papers for publication on the Medieval Studies on Screen site ( prior to the conference to allow maximum dissemination of their ideas.

Interested individuals should submit, no later than 15 September 2015, (1) an abstract of approximately 500 words, (2) a 500-word biography, and (3) a completed Participant Information Form (accessible at to the organizers at using “More Middle Ages on Screen” as their subject heading.

In planning your proposal, please be advised of the following policies of the Congress:

  • The Congress Committee will schedule a person as a participant (paper presenter, panelist, discussant, workshop leader, demonstration participant, poster presenter, presider, or respondent) in a maximum of three sessions.
  • All those working in the field of medieval studies, including graduate students and independent scholars and artists, are eligible to give a paper, if accepted, in any session. Enrolled undergraduate students, however, may give a paper, if accepted, only in the “Papers by Undergraduates” Special Session(s).

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Poor Merida

There was some outrage when Disney tried to co-opt Pixar's Merida from Brave into the Disney Princess line, and now she has been cutified by Hallmark for Christmas. Full details on the Disney/Pixar Precious Moments Brave Princess Merida Ornament are available at The porcelain figurine retails for $24.95.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Updated Info on The Middle Ages on Television

Meriem Pagès and Karolyn Kinane's collection The Middle Ages on Television: Critical Essays is now available for purchase and the full contents list made available. Complete details follow.

The Middle Ages on Television: Critical Essays
Edited by Meriem Pagès and Karolyn Kinane

Print ISBN: 978-0-7864-7941-2
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-4766-2009-1
notes, bibliographies, index
228pp. softcover (6 x 9) 2015

Price: $40.00
Available for immediate shipment

About the Book
The 21st century has seen a resurgence of popular interest in the Middle Ages. Television in particular has presented a wide and diverse array of “medieval” offerings. Yet there exists little scholarship on television medievalism.

This collection fills the gap with 10 new essays focusing on the depiction of the Middle Ages in popular culture and questioning the role of television in shaping our ideas about past and present. The contributors emphasize the need for scholars of medievalism to pay attention to its manifestations on the small screen. The essays cover quite a range of topics, including genre, gender and sexuality. The series covered are Game of Thrones, Merlin, Full Metal Jousting, Joan of Arcadia, Tudors, Camelot and Mists of Avalon.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Television Medievalisms (Meriem Pages and Karolyn Kinane) 1

Part 1. Personal and Political Desires
The Most Dangerous Sport in History Is About to Be Reborn: Medievalism and Violence in Full Metal Jousting (Angela Jane Weisl) 15
Joan of Arcadia: A Modern Maiden on Trial (Stephanie L. Coker) 31
William Webbe’s Wench: Henry VIII, History and Popular Culture (Shannon McSheffrey) 53
Nature and Adventure in Die Jagd nach dem Schatz der Nibelungen (Evan Torner) 78

Part 2. Narrative and Genre
Episodic Arthur: Merlin, Camelot and the Visual Modernization of the Medieval Literary Romance Tradition (Melissa Ridley Elmes) 99
Are You Kidding? King Arthur and the Knights of Justice (Sandy Feinstein) 122

Part 3. Gender and Sexuality
Television’s Male Gaze: The Male Perspective in TNT’s Mists of Avalon (Michael W. George) 141
Gendering Morals, Magic and Medievalism in the BBC’s Merlin (Elysse T. Meredith) 158
Arthur and Guenievre: The Royal Couple of Kaamelott (Tara Foster) 174
Homosexuality in Television Medievalism (Torben R. Gebhardt) 197

About the Contributors 215

Index 217

About the Editors
Meriem Pages is an associate professor of English and director of the Medieval and Renaissance Forum at Keene State College in Keene, New Hampshire. Karolyn Kinane is an associate professor of English and director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Plymouth State University in Plymouth, New Hampshire.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Kapell and Elliott's Playing with the Past

Another title of relevance to our endeavors:

Playing with the Past: Digital Games and the Simulation of History
Editor(s): Matthew Wilhelm Kapell, Andrew B.R. Elliott

Published: 10-24-2013
Format: Paperback
Edition: 1st
Extent: 400
ISBN: 9781623567286
Imprint: Bloomsbury Academic
Illustrations: 25
Dimensions: 6" x 9"
List price: $39.95

About Playing with the Past

Game Studies is a rapidly growing area of contemporary scholarship, yet volumes in the area have tended to focus on more general issues. With Playing with the Past, game studies is taken to the next level by offering a specific and detailed analysis of one area of digital game play -- the representation of history. The collection focuses on the ways in which gamers engage with, play with, recreate, subvert, reverse and direct the historical past, and what effect this has on the ways in which we go about constructing the present or imagining a future.

What can World War Two strategy games teach us about the reality of this complex and multifaceted period? Do the possibilities of playing with the past change the way we understand history? If we embody a colonialist's perspective to conquer 'primitive' tribes in Colonization, does this privilege a distinct way of viewing history as benevolent intervention over imperialist expansion? The fusion of these two fields allows the editors to pose new questions about the ways in which gamers interact with their game worlds. Drawing these threads together, the collection concludes by asking whether digital games - which represent history or historical change - alter the way we, today, understand history itself.

Table Of Contents

1. Introduction: To Build a Past that Will “Stand the Test of Time”: Discovering Historical Facts, Assembling Historical Narratives, Andrew B.R. Elliott and Matthew Wilhelm Kapell

Part I: History as a Process: Teleology, Causation and Technological Determinism
2. The Same River Twice: Historical Representation and the Value of Exploring Societal Concepts in the Total War, Civilization, and Age of Empires Franchises, Rolfe Daus Peterson, Andrew Miller and Sean Joseph Fedorko
3. What is “Old” in Videogames? Dan Reynolds
4. “Affording History”: Applying the Ecological Approach to Historical Videogames, Adam Chapman

Part II: History written by the West: Self, Other and Non-Western History
5. Phantasms of Rome: Video Games and Cultural Identity, Emily Joy Bembeneck
6. Modeling Indigenous Peoples: Unpacking Ideology in Sid Meier's Colonization, Rebecca Mir and Trevor Owens
7. Dominance and The Aztec Empire: Representations in Age of Empires II and Medieval Total War II, Joshua D. Holdenried with Nicolas Trépanier
8. From History to Literature to Game: Three Kingdoms and the Cultural Significance of Asian History, Hyuk-chan Kwon
9. Falling in Love with History: Japanese Girls and Otome Games, Kazumi Hasegawa

Part III: User-Generated History: Realism, Authenticity and the Playable Past
10. Selective Authenticity and the Playable Past, Andrew J. Salvati and Jonathan M. Bullinger
11. The Promise of Simulation: Realism, Authenticity, Virtuality, Josef Köstlbauer
12. Modding the Historians' Code: Historical Verisimilitude and the Counterfactual Imagination, Tom Apperley
13. Modding as Historical Reenactment: A Case Study of the Battlefield Series, Gareth Crabtree

Part IV: The Politics of Representation: Authenticity and Realism
14. Historical Veneers: Anachronism, Simulation and History in Assassin's Creed II, Douglas N. Dow
15. Air Power vs. Processing Power: Technology and Narrative Possibilities in WWI Video Gaming, Andrew Wackerfuss
16. Videogames in the popular Culture of Remembrance of the Cold War: A Case Study of Call of Duty: Black Ops, Clemens Reisner
17. Refighting the Cold War: Video Games and Speculative History, Marcus Schulzke

Part V: Looking Back on the End of the World: History as Utopian Possibility
18. Strategic Digital Defense: Video Games and Reagan's 'Star Wars' Program, 1980-1987, William M. Knoblauch
19. Fallout and the History of Yesterday's Impossible Tomorrow, Joseph A. November
20. History Out of Time: Fallout's Ironic America, Tom Cutterham
21. The Historical Conception of Biohazard in Biohazard, Robert Mejia and Ryuta Komaki
22. The Struggle with Gnosis: Ancient Religion and Future Technology in the Xenosaga Series, Erin Evans
23. Conclusion: Playing at True Myths, Engaging with Authentic Histories, Matthew Wilhelm Kapell and Andrew B.R. Elliott


Companion Website

For more details on Playing with the Past, please visit the companion website:

About Editors

Matthew Wilhelm Kapell has graduate degrees in biological anthropology and history as well as a Ph.D. in American Studies. He has published on genetics, urban history, African colonial history, as well as four books in film and television studies and has taught extensively in the United States and Great Britain.

Writes: Game Studies

Author of: Jacking In To the Matrix Franchise, Jacking In To the Matrix, Playing with the Past

Andrew Elliott is a Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Lincoln, UK, where he teaches cultural studies, media studies, history, film, and television. He is the author of Remaking the Middle Ages (2010) which concerns itself with authenticity, violence, and a semiotic reconstruction of the medieval period.

Writes: Game Studies

Author of: Playing with the Past

Elliott's The Return of Epic Film

Seems I'm very much behind here. More details on recent scholarship in the field.

The Return of the Epic Film: Genre, Aesthetics and History in the 21st Century
Edited By: Andrew Elliot
(Information from Edinburgh University Press)
(Information from Oxford University Press)

Edinburgh University Press
Publication Date: Mar 2014
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
Extent: 240 pages
12 bw Ill., film stills

ISBN: 9780748684021
Price: £70.00

ISBN: 9781474402842
Price: £19.99

This book is distributed in North & South America by Oxford University Press USA

Hardcover (01 April 2014) for $120.00 (same ISBN as UK edition)

Paperback (available for pre-orders and will ship on 01 March 2015) $34.95 (same ISBN as UK edition)

Details (Edinburgh)

Explores the return of the ‘epic’ in twenty-first-century cinema

With the success of Gladiator, both critics and scholars enthusiastically announced the return of a genre which had lain dormant for thirty years. However, this return raises important new questions which remain unanswered. Why did the epic come back, and why did it fall out of fashion? Are these the same kinds of epics as the 1950s and 60s, or are there aesthetic differences? Can we treat Kingdom of Heaven, 300 and Thor indiscriminately as one genre? Are non-Western histories like Hero and Mongol epics, too? Finally, what precisely do we mean when we talk about the return of the epic film, and why are they back?
The Return of the Epic Film offers a fresh way of thinking about a body of films which has dominated our screens for a decade. With contributions from top scholars in the field, the collection adopts a range of interdisciplinary perspectives to explore the epic film in the twenty-first century.

Details (Oxford)

What does the new epic film now look like? How is it classified? Why has it returned?

The success of Gladiator re-launched a genre which had lain dormant for 35 years. The Return of the Epic Film is one of the first books to examine this return as a coherent body of films. Studying a range of films from Gladiator to Clash of the Titans, the various essays question how we define these new epics, their aesthetics, their relationship to history, and who decides which films should be in the canon. Over the course of 11 essays by key figures in the field, the book examines in what ways, why, and how the epic film has returned to our cinemas.

By embracing a range of approaches which take into account the production process, and by questioning the canon of films conventionally accepted as epics, this book will inspire Film Studies students and scholars to rethink the epic film.


Introduction: The Return of the Epic, Andrew B.R. Elliott (read online)

Part I: Epics and Ancient History
Sir Ridley Scott and the Rebirth of the Epic, Jeffrey Richards
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and America since the Second World War: Some Cinematic Parallels, Kevin J. Harty
There’s Nothing So Wrong with a Hollywood Script that a Bunch of Giant CGI Scorpions Can’t Solve: Politics, Computer Generated Images and Camp in the Critical Reception of the Post-Gladiator Historical Epics: Mark Jancovich
Popcorn and Circus: An Audience Expects, Robert Stow

Part II: Epic Aesthetics and Genre
Colour in the Epic Film: Alexander and Hero, Robert Burgoyne
Defining the Epic: Medieval and Fantasy Epics, Paul Sturtevant
Special Effects, Reality, and the New Epic, Andrew B.R. Elliott

Part III: Epic Films and the Canon
Pass the Ammunition: A Short Etymology of Blockbuster, Sheldon Hall
Epic Stumbling Blocks, Saër Maty Bâ
The Greatest Epic of the 21st Century?, Deborah Bridge
Ramayana and Sita in Films and Popular Media: The Repositioning of a Globalised Version, Aarttee Kaul Dhar


Andrew B.R. Elliott is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Lincoln, UK, where he works on the depiction of history in popular culture. In addition to his work on epics, he has written on the use of the Middle Ages, Robin Hood, Vikings, and Classical Antiquity in film, as well as the depiction of the past in video games and television.

New/Recent: Medieval Motion Picture: The Politics of Adaptation

Here's another recent book of interest. This one looks to be from mostly European scholars.

The Medieval Motion Picture: The Politics of Adaptation
Edited by Andrew James Johnston, Margitta Rouse, Philipp Hinz
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Series The New Middle Ages

ISBN 9780230112506
Publication Date April 2014
Hardcover (256 pages)
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF)


Providing new and challenging ways of understanding the medieval in the modern and vice versa, The Medieval Motion Picture: The Politics of Adaptation highlights how medieval aesthetic experience breathes life into contemporary cinema. Engaging with the subject of time and temporality, the essays examine the politics of adaptation and our contemporary entanglement with the medieval: not only in overtly medieval-themed films but also in such diverse genres as thrillers, horror films, performance animation, and even science fiction. Among the films and TV shows discussed are productions such as HBO's award winning series Game of Thrones, Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula, Akira Kurosawa's Ran, and M. Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense.


Introduction: Temporalities of Adaptation; Andrew James Johnston and Margitta Rouse (read online)

1. "Now is the time": Shakespeare's Medieval Temporalities in Akira Kurosawa's Ran; Jocelyn Keller and Wolfram R. Keller

2. Dracula's Times: Adapting the Middle Ages in Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula; Cordula Lemke

3. Rethinking Anachronism for Medieval Film in Richard Donner's Timeline; Margitta Rouse

4. Otherness Redoubled and Refracted: Intercultural Dialogues in The Thirteenth Warrior; Judith Klinger

5. Crisis Discourse and Art Theory: Richard Wagner's Legacy in Films; Veith von Fürstenberg and Kevin Reynolds Stefan Keppler-Tasaki

6. Adaptation as Hyperreality: The (A)historicism of Trauma in Robert Zemeckis's Beowulf; Philipp Hinz and Margitta Rouse

7. Perils of Generation: Incest, Romance and the Proliferation of Narrative in Game of Thrones; Martin Bleisteiner

8. Arthurian Myth and Cinematic Horror: M. Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense; Hans Jürgen Scheuer

9. Marian Re-writes the Legend: The Temporality of Archaeological Remains in Richard Lester's Robin and Marian; Andrew James Johnston



Andrew James Johnston is Chair of Medieval and Renaissance English Literature at the Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, and author of Performing the Middle Ages from Beowulf to Othello.

Margitta Rouse is Assistant Professor at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany. She teaches medieval English literature as well as cinematic adaptation.

Philipp Hinz curates film festivals and publishes stage-to-screen adaptations on DVD.