Cultural Studies of the Modern Middle Ages

Cultural Studies of the Modern Middle Ages


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The essays in this volume bring together analyses of contemporary popular entertainment, current political crises, and medieval history and culture, in order to investigate the intersecting and often tangled relations between the past and present, and between reality and fiction, especially in relation to issues of identity and self-formation, morality, statecraft, social justice, violence, the law, and the historical imagination.

 The essays collected in this volume demonstrate that, when certain medieval and contemporary cultural texts are placed alongside each other, such as a fourteenth-century penitential handbook and the reality television show Survivor, they reveal certain mentalities and social conditions that persist over long durations of time. Several of the essays address overtly political subjects, such as political torture and suicide terrorism, while other essays attend to the various ways in which certain “real-life” fictions and cultural entertainments have always overdetermined our understanding of history, our current moment, and ourselves.

Eileen A. Joy is Assistant Professor of English at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. Myra J. Seaman is Associate Professor of English at College of Charleston. Kimberly K. Bell is Assistant Professor of English and Foreign Languages at Sam Houston State University. Mary K. Ramsey is Assistant Professor of English at Southeastern Louisiana University.

“This book asks us to consider the gaps between the real and the staged, between truth and performance.  More compellingly, it asks us to think about whether we can ever know the difference, whether we are so caught in prison houses of textual manipulation that resistance is, finally, futile.  The book looks to medieval narratives of conversion, parody, temptation, power, torture, and finds resonances (both continuities and discontinuities) in such contemporary spectacles as reality television shows, images of the Bush White House, and photographs from the Abu Ghraib prison. Sometimes wild, often audacious, at times funny, and with haunting moments, this collection is always provocative, and it will be much discussed.”–Martin B. Shichtman, Eastern Michigan University

Cultural Studies of the Modern Middle Ages stages a dazzlingly original, and a deeply provocative intervention at the intersections of past and present, high and low culture, scholarship and entertainment, and truth and fiction. The essays included here deftly interweave critical theory, medieval scholarship, and popular culture in ways that are both impassioned and informative. This collection shows how a period that is usually cast as distant and remote can provide lenses through which we can productively rethink our current preoccupations; likewise, the collection demonstrates how familiar cultural forms that we might be tempted to dismiss as mere ephemera can resonate richly with the medieval literary traditions that represent the foundations of our western intellectual heritage.”–Anne Clark Bartlett, DePaul University

“Contemporary entertainment, current politics and medieval history and culture are brought together in an attempt to investigate the intersecting relations between reality and fiction in relation to issues such as morality, identity, and justice, both in the past and the present.” —The Times Higher Education Supplement

Medieval Presentism Before The Present–Nancy F. Partner * Through a Glass, Darkly: Medieval Cultural Studies at the End of History–Eileen A. Joy and Myra J. Seaman * PART I: MEDIEVAL, REALITY, TELEVISION * Models of (Im)Perfection: Parodic Refunctioning in Spike TV’s The Joe Schmo Show and Geoffrey Chaucer’s “Tale of Sir Thopas”–Kimberly K. Bell * “She appears as brightly radiant as she once was foul”: Medieval Conversion Narratives and Contemporary Makeover Shows”–Angela Jane Weisl * Outwit, Outplay, Outlast: Moral Lessons from Handlyng Synne and Survivor–Cynthia A. Ho and James Driggers * Back to the Future: Living the Liminal Life in the Manor House and the Medieval Dream Vision–Betsy McCormick * PART II: ENTERTAINING HISTORIES/HISTORICAL ENTERTAINMENT * Medieval Histories and Modern Realism: Yet Another Origin of the Novel–Nancy F. Partner * Sacrificing Fiction and the Quest for the Real [in] King Arthur–Myra J. Seaman and John Green *  PART III: MEDIEVAL, REALITY, POLITICS * The Crisis of Legitimation in Bush’s American and Henry IV’s England–Daniel T. Kline * Torture, Inquisition, Medievalism, Reality, TV–Steve Guthrie * Wolves, Outlaws, and Enemy Combatants–Michael E. Moore * Exteriority Is Not a Negation But a Marvel: Hospitality, Terrorism, Levinas, Beowulf–Eileen A. Joy * Otherword: Opening Time: Psychoanalysis and Medieval Culture–Michael Uebel * Afterword: Intertemporality–Jeffrey Jerome Cohen

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Weight 1 oz
Dimensions 1 × 6 × 9 cm