How are the Middle Ages remembered? In recent years the Middle Ages have set the scene for a variety of popular TV series; contemporary identity is often connected to a medieval past; and medieval history has even been appropriated to justify the horrific actions of extremist groups. As scholars we know that popular views of the Middle Ages are often absurdly and dangerously misrepresented, but if a false vision of the Middle Ages is accepted as true on screen, in objects, or architecture, what effect does that have on the psyche of viewers today?
This session invites papers from diverse fields to interrogate how memory, legacy, and myths of the Middle Ages live on today, in tangible or intangible ways. Possible topics may include neo-Gothic revivals, the endurance of religious expression for faith communities today, as well as 19th-century and fantasy medievalisms from Tolkien to Game of Thrones. In light of the content thread recommended by CAA for 2021 –social justice— we specifically encourage submissions that consider race, gender equality, sexuality, including queer pre-modern identities, and justice for Indigenous communities in the Americas. For example, potential topics might examine the appropriation of medieval symbols in contemporary hate groups or how medieval women are portrayed on screen. At a time when popular culture has renewed attention on the Middle Ages, it is critical to reflect not just on medieval attitudes towards their own material culture and visual arts, but how our own perspectives are shaped by their real and imagined legacies.
Please submit abstracts directly to the chair by September 16th. More specific submission instructions can be found at the CAA Annual Conference website here.