Monstrous Medievalism: Toxic Appropriations of the Middle Ages in Modern Popular Culture and Thought (Leeds 2018)

deadline for submissions: 
August 31, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
MEARCSTAPA (monsters: the experimental association for the research of cryptozoology through scholarly theory and practical application)
contact email: 

Monstrous Medievalism: Toxic Appropriations of the Middle Ages in Modern Popular Culture and Thought (Leeds 2018)

 

MEARCSTAPA plans to submit a session of 3 or 4 papers to the 2018 International Medieval Congress at Leeds. The Congress theme is “Memory.” Our hope is that this session will run as a twin-session to our proposed panel for Kalamazoo 2018 on Monstrous Medievalisms.

 

The medieval period continues to be misidentified both as a primitive and savage ‘dark ages’ and as an idealized utopian golden age of racial and religious homogeny. In both cases, aspects of medieval culture—stories, motifs, and themes—are appropriated and reimagined (that is, remembered and reconstructed) in ways that celebrate and promote the othering of certain racial and ethnic groups or cultures. Medievalists should be made uncomfortable by the realization that we share some interests with white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and other groups dedicated to the oppression, segregation, and even elimination of racial and ethnic groups or cultures.  Medievalists should feel even more uncomfortable when this othering—intentional or otherwise—becomes common in the presentation of the Middle Ages in various popular cultural media.

 

These medievalisms use the Middle Ages—our Middle Ages—to advance their racist agendas, which have frequently resulted in malicious acts against individuals and groups. In short, the Middle Ages are often put to monstrous work in modern popular thought and culture, frequently used by one community to attack another. The Middle Ages thus become othered and estranged from the scholars who study and teach from positions of acceptance and inclusion.  These monstrous medievalisms use the period to foster some of the most pernicious ideologies of the present day and distort our understanding of the past. We ask, whose Middle Ages are they? And in so doing, we seek to confront these monstrous medievalisms, to unravel and make sense of them in order to dismantle the negative work they do.

 

  • Papers for this panel might address topics such as:
    Appropriations of the medieval image and narrative in Nazi propaganda
  • Contemporary White Pride/White Nationalist appropriations of the medieval symbols and signs (tattoos, banners, album covers, banners)
  • Racist responses to inclusion in “Medieval” film
  • The medieval fantasies of white identity in the Anglo-Saxon enthusiasm of the founding fathers
  • Racialized Monsters in the contemporary medieval fantasy
  • Race War as trope in Ancient and Medieval period films, video games, and/or books
  • "Unintentional" rehearsals of racist ideologies in popular media

 

We invite papers from all disciplines and national traditions. Additionally, MEARCSTAPA will provide an award of $500 to the best graduate student submission to this or any of its sessions to help offset the costs of travel and lodging for the IMC.

 

Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words together with a brief bio to session organizer Renée Ward (rward@lincoln.ac.uk) by 31 August 2017. Please include your name, title, and affiliation on the abstract itself. All abstracts will be vetted by the MEARCSTAPA board and the full session will be submitted to the Congress mid-September 2017.