The Ghosts of the Nineteenth Century and the Future of Medieval Studies (postmedieval 10.2)

deadline for submissions: 
November 30, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Matthew Gabriele and Cord J. Whitaker, eds.

Despite the changing nature of medievalism, the specter of the nineteenth century continues to haunt us in myriad ways—from table manners to how we tell stories, from the organization of civil society to our expectations of personal morality. But perhaps nowhere is this truer than in the study of the Middle Ages, where nineteenth-century modes of philological and historical inquiry continue to serve as the gold standard for scholarship. Frederick James Furnivall, the “indefatigable” founder of the Early English Text Society, the Wyclif Society, the Ballad Society, the New Shakespeare Society, the Browning Society, and the Shelley Society, never held a university post and was also an avid rower who founded the Girls’ Sculling Club in order that “working girls” could scull on the Thames on Sundays. Cornell professor George Lincoln Burr, specialist in Crusades history, heresy, and witchcraft; founding member of the Medieval Academy of America; and president of the American Historical Association, also helped the US Department of State settle a border dispute between Venezuela and British Guiana. In the nineteenth century, medievalism was academic and public, personal and political.

Nineteenth-century ghosts haunt medievalism. This special issue of postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies will explore how academic and popular medievalism diverged, even as they continued to consider many of the same nineteenth-century questions about religious, national, and even racial identities, even as both discourses struggled to separate the religious from the secular. The issue editors therefore solicit proposals for essays that seek to reveal, concretize, or exorcise medieval studies’ nineteenth-century ghosts. Essays may (but are not required to) focus on three key moments: (1) the origins of medieval studies in the academy and its impact on the wider public, (2) the fragmentation that followed in the cultural and social turmoil of the twentieth century, or (3) the possibilities of the present moment and what may be to come for the medieval past.


Please submit a 500-word abstract of your proposal to Matthew Gabriele (gabriele(at) by November 30, 2017. Final decisions will be made by mid December. Essays of 6,000 words will be due to the editors by January 30, 2018.


Please contact either Prof. Cord J. Whitaker (Cord.Whitaker(at) or Prof. Matthew Gabriele (gabriele(at) with questions.