Redefining Nation and Nationalism: A post-nineteenth century approach for a modern Medieval Studies

deadline for submissions: 
September 10, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
International Congress on Medieval Studies
contact email: 

The problematic use of ideas established in nineteenth century, using medieval literature and culture, to define nascent senses of nationalism lingers over the field of Medieval Studies. The nineteenth century saw the construction of Western European national identity using, for example, texts such as the Chanson de Roland, the Nibelungenleid, and the works of Thomas Malory. However, the biography of the French national hero Charlemagne was written by the German Einhard; the German national epic is about a group of Burgundians; and King Arthur has equal ties to his Celtic and French development as he does to his Englishness. When advocating for a global Middle Ages, we must also cast a critical eye on outdated scholarship and modes of thinking about national identity construction in Western Europe as well.

The aforementioned examples of complicated nationalism have been examined, but to this day, these examples are misused by groups ranging from the innocuous (vis-à-vis textbooks and scholarship that seeks to simplify the development of the nation state) to the deeply problematic (vis-à-vis the alt-right and other nationalist groups). This panel seeks to show the complicated nature of medieval literature when considered beyond the inheritance of nineteenth-century English, French, and German scholars. 

We are seeking submissions from scholars who work on traditionally ‘national’ texts in new ways.  This panel is not limited to literature, but we welcome scholars of art, ideas, technology, even fashion and cuisine—any ‘text’ that has been pigeonholed into representative of a post-medieval national identity, but in fact represents the cultural exchange or transnationalism during the Middle Ages. We will also consider papers that deal with theoretical aspects of building national identity based on medieval texts. 


Please email 200 word abstracts proposing 15-20 minute papers to Emerson Richards ( no later than 10 September, 2017.