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Medievalism: A Manifesto -- Responses

Updated: Jan 12, 2023

Richard Utz, Medievalism. A Manifesto (Bradford, UK: ARC Humanities Press, 2017).


Since the inclusion of medieval studies in the modern academy, professional scholars have insisted on distinguishing their work from extra-academic lovers of medieval culture. Richard Utz analyses the semantic, institutional, and sociopolitical history of the relationship between medieval studies and medievalism. He provides a survey of how scholars' exteriorization of amateur interest in the medieval past narrowed the epistemological range of medieval scholarship and how reception studies, feminism, and postmodernism gradually expanded modern pastist approaches to the Middle Ages. Utz advances specific examples for reconnecting investigating scholarly subjects with their subjects of investigation, and he challenges scholars to make a conscious effort to engage in public scholarship and explore inclusive gestures toward the contributions non-academic lovers of the Middle Ages can offer. His manifesto advocates an active integration of academic medievalists' work within the many other equally valuable artistic and sociopolitical partner contexts of reading the medieval past.

Chapter headings

What’s Love Got To Do With It? Our Middle Ages, Ourselves

Don’t Know Much About the Middle Ages? Toward Flat(ter) Futures of Engagement

Intervention One: Residual Medievalisms in Eastern Bavaria

Intervention Two: Race and Medievalism at Atlanta’s Rhodes Hall

Intervention Three: Medievalism, Religion, and Temporality

Manifesto: Six (Not So) Little Medievalisms


"Inspirado por Verduin, como él mismo reconoce en el prólogo, Richard Utz publicó en 2017 el manifiesto del medievalismo, donde busca repensar la manera en que conectamos, desde el mundo académico, con la cultura medieval. Su objetivo último es que desde los intramuros de la academia procuremos dialogar con aquel público general que, afuera, también se interesa por el mundo medieval, aunque no primordial (o exclusivamente) desde la teoría, sino a partir de la observancia y disfrute de las manifestaciones postmedievales que recrean ese periodo histórico-cultural, como pueden ser la literatura, el cine, las series de televisión, la música…La vocación comparatista de este manifiesto no se observa solo en esta finalidad interartística e interdiscursiva que subyace a su escritura, sino también en los procesos iniciales que guiaron su inspiración." Laura Camino Plaza, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela

"In the wake of such tragedies such as the Charlottesville murder of an Anti-fascist activist and the sustained and visible bastardization of medieval iconography, progressive websites such as In the Middle, The Public Medievalist, and the Babel Working Group have found new ground and revitalized the debate around what an honest scholar should and shouldn’t strive for when their field is under attack. Utz’s manifesto, then, takes the just side of the debate and argues against a racist encapsulation of the Middle Ages." The (Pop)Culture Medievalist

"Drawing particular awareness to the autobiographical element in any scholarship, the US-based medievalist fruitfully utilises his German background for the conflation of case studies from different cultural areas. Moving on from the reflection upon his own academic background, he compiles a variety of examples, both from the field of scholarship and popular culture, in order to demonstrate how intensified cooperation between these allegedly distinct spheres might eventually instigate deeper engagement with ‘the Middle Ages’ on any possible level." J.A. von Nahl, Lingua Americana

"Spitzt sich eine Krise zu, verspricht ein Manifest Orientierung. So versteht auch Utz sein Medievalism. A Manifesto. Er sieht die streng akademischen Medieval Studies seit Jahren auf dem Rückzug, während gleichzeitig die Zahl der Mittelalterinteressierten wächst und sich neben Filmen und Comics die Sphäre der Fernsehserien und Computerspiele erschlossen hat. Medievalism, der auch interessierten Nicht-Mediävisten und Laien offen steht, wird von den akademischen Forschern mit Geringschätzung betrachtet und mit Nichtachtung gestraft, wenngleich jene Außenseiter erhebliche Erkenntniszuwächse zu liefern vermögen. Neben anderen nennt Utz als herausragendstes Beispiel die Arbeit an der Burg Guédelon, einem Vorhaben in praktisch-experimenteller Mittelalterforschung, die wichtige Aufschlüsse bezüglich der damaligen Bautätigkeit liefert." Georg Festerling, Archiv

Medievalism: A Manifesto is well-argued, inspiring, and also timely, as its immediately sold-out first print run indicates. This book is for the scholars who need to shed their guilt over ‘cheating’ on their scholarship by indulging in fun medievalism; it’s for the grad students who need to be reminded of what inspired them to first set foot in our field; it’s for the department chairs who are wondering how to make their departments ‘more relevant’. In other words, Medievalism: A Manifesto is a must-read for anyone in our field, and a rallying cry for scholars in general to harness the power of public platforms to better society. If you need a quick read to relight your fire, this is it.” Danièle Cybulskie,

“Utz is the scholar/teacher as rabble rouser, in the very best sense of the term—though some of the rabble are his own colleagues in the academy. He argues for a fresh approach to a new topic in a way that embraces not just the academy but also larger audiences with their own distinctive views of and responses to what we call the medieval.” – Kevin J. Harty, La Salle University

“[Medievalism: A Manifesto] is a great little book—deliberately accessible, off-beat, and provocative. […] Importantly, it really is a book with messages for all medievalists, not just those already consciously engaged more narrowly with the reception of medieval history and culture.” – James Palmer, University of St Andrews; “On Utz’s Medievalism Manifesto,” online at Merovingian World

“Im vorliegenden Manifest – das in einem halben Dutzend Kernsätzen mündet – erscheint dieses Plädoyer aber ungewohnt intensiv, und das liegt vor allem daran, dass Utz sich nicht zum vermeintlich objektiv-neutralen Kommentator emporschwingt, sondern seinen Werdegang als ‚medievalist‘ und ‚medievalism-ist‘ eng mit seiner privaten Biographie verknüpft. Dabei gereicht ihm zum Vorteil, dass er auf lange Erfahrung einerseits im deutschen, andererseits im US-amerikanischen Universitätssystem und auf entsprechende Einsicht auch in beide Gesellschaften blicken kann.” – Jan Alexander von Nahl,

“This book—especially its final chapter, which comprises the real ‘manifesto’ of the volume—should be required reading for every medieval studies Ph.D., and taped to the door of many a public history professor.” – Paul B. Sturtevant, The Public Medievalist

Medievalism: A Manifesto aims to do nothing less than to reform the ways in which we think about academic engagement with the Middle Ages, and with medievalism as a whole. […] [Utz presents] a fundamental, challenging, and difficult intervention aimed squarely at those who may not want to listen, and who, for that precise reason, most urgently need to do so.” – Andrew B. R. Elliott, University of Lincoln; Arthuriana.

"This is a highly recommended read. My main difference of opinion with its proposals stems from the support the volume unwittingly provides to the explicit desires of the neoliberal managerial corporate university, which actively demands that staff engage with and show verifiable impact on society. To scholars of medievalism, it should not be surprising that as Medieval Studies gave nation-states the needed national roots sought in the nineteenth century, we today may be providing the intellectual basis for a managerial and neoliberal corporate world. As it turns out, however, some academies outside the United States seem to already live in the future visualized by this volume, a less utopian future than one would wish; tasked with ever-growing demands on time that used to be devoted to research and in an academic culture that especially values applied marketable endeavors and demonstrable public impact."  – Nadia Altschul, The Medieval Review

"In the end Utz tasks his fellow historians with the following: that they make their work accessible, through blogging, writing newspaper columns, or other means, that they communicate with people who love the Middle Ages, and (importantly) that they publicly contradict and condemn misuses of the Middle Ages as part of their own politics, as well out of an ethical duty to be accurate about the past. Manifesto is a must-read for anyone engaged in the study of medieval history or medievalism." – Chad M. White, The Fox Hall Chronicle



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