Can We Be More Than the Middle Ages? Medievalism Studies and Medieval Studies (Roundtable) (9/30/2020; NeMLA Philadelphia 3/11-14/2021)

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Michael A. Torregrossa / Association for the Advancement of Scholarship and Teaching of the Medieval in Popular Culture

Can We Be More Than the Middle Ages? Medievalism Studies and Medieval Studies (Roundtable)

52nd Annual Convention of the Northeast Modern Language Association

Marriott Downtown Philadelphia, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from 11-14 March 2021

Paper abstracts are due by 30 September 2020

Session organized by Michael A. Torregrossa and Carl B. Sell and sponsored by the Association for the Advancement of Scholarship and Teaching of the Medieval in Popular Culture.


Academics, in general, have embraced the study of popular culture in recent decades seeing value in both the texts they and their students experience on a daily basis as well as those works that held the attentions of previous generations. Complementing this movement, the academic study of medievalism has been viewed as a legitimate avenue of inquiry for just over forty years, and scholarship on medieval-themed art, comics, drama, fiction, film, games, and television programming has grown considerably over time. However, is the phenomenal success of Medievalism Studies more a curse than a blessing? Are Medieval Studies and its more traditional sub-disciplines as welcoming of this material as they appear? Is the pursuit of medievalisms a worthwhile endeavor or something capable of causing stigma or even harm to fall upon the researcher?


Through this roundtable, we seek to explore the answers to these and similar questions. Medievalisms are the lifeblood of our field. They create interest in the Middle Ages and keep its legacies alive despite our distances from the era in time and space, but does our fascination with this material come at a cost, one few are willing to pay? Can medievalists, of all levels, successfully integrate popular representations of the medieval into their research and careers, or must Medievalism Studies remain an outlier, a guilty pleasure rather than an appropriate option to further the field?


This session is a roundtable, in which 3-10 participants give brief, informal presentations (5-10 minutes) and the session is open to conversation and debate between participants and the audience.

The direct link for this session is Please contact the organizers at with any questions or concerns.


Abstract submissions must be made through NeMLA’s official site. Applicants will need to login or create an account at Submissions must begin with a paper title of not more than 100 characters (including spaces) and adhering to the following: capitalize titles by MLA formatting rules unless the title is in a language other than English; do not use quotation marks in the session title or abstract title itself but please use only single quotation marks around titles of short stories, poems, and similar short works; italicize the titles of long works mentioned in the paper title; and do not place a period at the end of the title. Submissions should also include an academic biography (usually transferred from your NeMLA profile) and a paper abstract of not more than 300 words; be sure to italicize or use quotation marks around titles according to MLA guidelines.

Please be aware that NeMLA membership is not required to submit abstracts, but it is required to present at the convention. In addition, note that it is permissible to present on (1) a panel (or seminar) and (2) a roundtable or a creative session, but it is not permissible to present on a panel and a seminar (because both are paper-based), on two panels or two roundtables (because both would be the same type). Further information on these and other policies can be accessed at

Chairs will confirm the acceptance of abstracts before 15 October 2020. At that time, applicants must confirm the panel on which they wish to participate. Convention registration/membership for 2020-2021 must be paid by 9 December 2020.