Friday, June 1, 2012
Kalamazoo 2013 Proposal
Here are the details of our proposal for sessions for next year's International Congress on Medieval Studies:
Still Getting Medieval on Television: Medieval-Themed Television of the Twenty-first Century and Its Impact on Medieval Studies (Roundtable) (x2)
In the twentieth-century, film and later television were the primary media for disseminating information about the Middle Ages to mass audiences. However, in the twenty-first century, that paradigm has shifted—a fact we had not yet realized in organizing our 2007 sessions at both the Popular Culture Association Annual Meeting and the International Congress on Medieval Studies—with the “reel Middle Ages” of film giving way almost completely and the “televisual Middle Ages” becoming the dominant texts in our contemporary (re)construction of the medieval. Consequently, thanks to the healthy manufacturing of new works for distribution on television as well as (in defiance of the hithertofore ephemeralness of television programming) the preservation of older ones online and on DVD, we should not discount their impact on us and our students, both now and in the generations to come.
In apparent ignorance or (perhaps) denial of television’s usurpation of film’s role as the major innovator of medieval-themed texts, the study of medieval-themed film continues to expand, while research on televisual medievalisms remains limited despite the growing number of high profile programs both in the United States and abroad. Currently, television produces an overabundance of one-offs, series, telefilms, miniseries, commercials, and documentaries, all created in ever-increasing numbers for an incredibly diverse audience across the globe and provides viewers, starting with simple plots for young children and culminating in an increased sophistication and content for older adults, with vivid, informative and entertaining recreations of the medieval past (either as they truly were or, more usually, as we wish they had been) and/or transformations of that past in a vibrant medieval present. We can no longer ignore television’s Middle Ages as a fertile ground for discussion and debate—a fact addressed in the call for proposals for three recent collections on the topic. In these roundtable sessions, designed to continue the ongoing work of the Virtual Society for the Study of Popular Culture and the Middle Ages, we hope to further alleviate some of the disparity between filmic and televisual medievalisms and provide both a gateway into accessing this material as well as to evaluate how these programs might be profitably integrated into medievalist research and teaching.