Mass Market Medieval

Essays on the Middle Ages in Popular Culture


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About the Book

Beginning in 1976 with the first issue of the journal Studies in Medievalism, all things medieval and the concept of medievalism became a hot topic in culture studies. Medievalism examines how different groups, individuals, or eras use and shape the image of the Middle Ages, differentiating between historical knowledge of the Middle Ages and what we have made the period out to be. The 13 essays in this book explore the medieval invasion of today’s media and consider the various ways—from film and print to websites and video games—that the Middle Ages have been packaged for consumption. Essays encompass diverse theoretical perspectives and are grouped loosely around distinct functions of medievalism, including the exposure of recent social concerns; the use of medieval images in modern political contexts; and the medieval’s influence on products of today’s popular culture. The legitimization of the study of medievalism and the effect of medievalism on the more traditional subject of medieval studies are also discussed. Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

David W. Marshall attended the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of York, England, where he completed an M.A., before earning a doctorate in English at Indiana University. He works as an assistant professor of English at California State University, San Bernardino.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by David W. Marshall

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 215
Bibliographic Info: notes, references, index
Copyright Date: 2007
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2922-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii
Introduction: The Medievalism of Popular Culture      1

1. Chaucer for a New Millennium: The BBC Canterbury Tales      13
2. “If I Lay My Hands on the Grail”: Arthurianism and Progressive Rock      28
3. The Sound of Silents: Aurality and Medievalism in Benjamin Christensen’s Häxan      42
4. Antichrist Superstars: The Vikings in Hard Rock and Heavy Metal      57
5. The Future Is What It Used to Be: Medieval Prophecy and Popular Culture      74
6. Idealized Images of Wales in the Fiction of Edith Pargeter/Ellis Peters      90
7. Places Don’t Have to Be True to Be True: The Appropriation of King Arthur and the Cultural Value of Tourist Sites      102
8. “Accident My Codlings”: Sitcom, Cinema and the Re-writing of History in The Blackadder      113
9. Medieval History and Cultural Forgetting: Oppositional Ethnography in The Templar Revelation      126
10. Teaching the Middle Ages      140
11. Virtually Medieval: The Age of Kings Interprets the Middle Ages      154
12. A World unto Itself: Autopoietic Systems and Secondary Worlds in Dungeons & Dragons      171
13. Anything Different Is Good: Incremental Repetition, Courtly Love, and Purgatory in Groundhog Day      186

About the Contributors      199
Index      201

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “An admirable job of selecting essays that cover different media…the essays talk to one another in interesting ways…thought provoking…an inaugural work in popular medievalism…intriguing new directions…for the study of medievalism in popular culture”—Arthuriana
  • “Essential”—Journal of American Studies of Turkey
  • “Fascinating insights”—