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05 August, 2011

coming to terms with medievalism

Recently published, in the European Journal of English Studies, volume 15/2, 2011 (special issue on Medievalism, ed. Ute Berndt and Andrew James Johnston): "Coming to Terms With Medievalism."

Abstract: "Medievalism, the continuing reception of medieval culture in post-medieval times, has existed as an amphibolous term since the mid-nineteenth century, when it was employed as a synonym for the medieval period. Following the foundational theoretical work by conceptual historian Reinhart Koselleck, this essay investigates the history of the concept, ‘medievalism,’ as a linguistic performance responding to particular pressures inside and outside the academy. The concept can be shown specifically to be the product of what Koselleck calls the process of ‘temporalization’ (Verzeitlichung) which marks the transition from early modern mentalities to modernity and the modern university. Rejected as the dilettante ‘Other’ of academic medieval studies in the late nineteenth century, the English term survived probably due to the unique continuity postmedieval British subjects have felt with their medieval past. ‘medievalism’ has since transmuted into a scholarly practice (‘medievalism studies’), spawned a subfield (‘Neomedievalism’), competed with coeval movements (‘New medievalism’), and become, most recently, the linguistic and epistemological weapon of scholars who would like to bridge the rigid alterity toward medieval culture with the assistance of presentist empathy, memory, subjectivity, resonance, affection, desire, passion, speculation, fiction, imagination, and positionality. Based on its historical priority and conceptual inclusiveness, ‘medievalism’ is apt to encompass and reconfigure the various ways in which we will continue to receive medieval culture inside and outside the academy."