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Loving the Middle Ages in a Flat World

Updated: Oct 15, 2018

Just found out that my proposal for the University of Leeds The Future of Medieval Studies Symposium has been accepted. Please join me, if you can, on Friday, May 31, in Leeds:

Session title: Loving the Middle Ages in a Flat World

Participants: Richard Utz

Abstract: Some of the most exciting developments in recent medieval studies have centered on the reevaluation of the traditional distinctions between so-called amateurs and specialists, the demarcation lines between the academic and non-academic endeavors to engage with medieval culture and its numerous reincarnations, reinventions, and reenactments. In the wake of Carolyn Dynshaw’s How Soon Is Now?: Medieval Texts, Amateur Readers, and the Queerness of Time (2012), which flattened such easy distinctions, and Andrew Elliot’s Medievalism, Politics and Mass Media: Appropriating the Middle Ages in the Twenty-First Century (2017), which demonstrates that medievalist memes and tropes now spread at the speed of a tweet without input from academic specialists or connections to the historical Middle Ages, we need new ways of practicing the work of the medievalist.

I would like to propose a seminar style discussion in which participants would explore innovative ways in which diverse ‘lovers’ of medieval culture redefine dated roles on either side of the ‘academic’ and ‘non-academic’ divide. The session would aim at featuring specific scenarios within which each side would be inclusive of the value each ‘amateur’ brings to the understanding of medieval culture and its receptions. On the basis of such an alliance of diverse public stakeholders in medieval studies, the session would attempt to propose powerful digital methods which challenge the dissemination of medievalist memes and tropes in the new media landscape. Current efforts for producing research that reaches out (articles in the media, public lectures, teaching, etc.) are insufficient for keeping medieval studies relevant as a cultural force.

The session will suggest skills and competencies from mass media, public relations, and public medievalism to all those who recognize the necessity to adapt to a radically new way of being an impactful medievalist in an increasingly ‘flat world’.



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