Saturday, April 12, 2014

SMART 21.1 Out Now

Now available to subscribers (details at



The Spring 2014 Issue 1 of Volume 21 of Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Teaching presents a small collection of articles on teaching William Langland’s Piers Plowman. Like Chaucer, Langland addressed perplexing societal problems, yet his work is not taught as often as Chaucer’s. Langland’s position as one of the most important of medieval English writers raises several questions: Should Langland be taught to undergraduates? If so, in what contexts should he be taught? How can Langland be made relevant for current under-graduates? These papers, originally delivered at a session of the 2008 International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University, attempt to answer these questions.

This issue of SMART also offers several other fine articles on a variety of topics—teaching Percy’sReliques of Ancient English Poetry, understanding Beowulf through a modern contrast, teaching medieval literature at a Hispanic-serving institution, employing the Crusades as a tool to discuss the relationship between Islam and the West, using anachronistic movies to successfully teach medieval history, and editing and teaching medieval drama.  The volume is rounded out with some excellent book reviews.

(collection guest edited by Theodore L. Steinberg)

THEODORE L. STEINBERG Introduction: Teaching Piers Plowman

THOMAS GOODMANN Why Not Teach Langland?

THEODORE L. STEINBERG I’m Dreaming of Piers Plowman

LOUISE BISHOP Piers Plowman: Text and Context

ADAM H. KITZES Canonicity, Literary History, and the Survey of English Literature: Teaching Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry to Undergraduates

MEGAN HARTMAN Beowulf  Then and Now: Understanding the Medieval Hero through a Modern Contrast
R. JACOB MCDONIE Teaching Medieval Literature at a Hispanic-Serving Institution

MERIEM PAGES The Crusades as a Tool to Discuss the Relationship between Islam and the West in Medieval Europe

JULIE ELB Knights! Camera! Action! Using Anachronistic Movies to Successfully Teach Medieval History

CLAIRE SPONSLOR Is There a Play in This Book? Editing and Teaching Medieval Drama

SUSAN KENDRICK Book Review: The Cambridge Introduction to Shakespeare’s Comedies,
by Penny Gay

E. L. RISDEN Book Review: The Chronica Maiora of Thomas Walsingham (1376–1422),
translated by David Preest, with introduction and notes by James G. Clark

GWENDOLYN MORGAN Book Review: European Sexualities, 1400–1800, by Katherine Crawford

BRIGITTE ROUSSEL Book Review: Communal Discord, Child Abduction, and Rape in the Later Middle Ages, by Jeremy Goldberg

LESLEY A. COOTE Book Review: Allegory and Sexual Ethics in the High Middle Ages, by Noah D. Guynn

CHRISTINA FRANCIS Book Review: Brueghel’s Heavy Dancers: Transgressive Clothing, Class, & Culture in the Late Middle Age, by John Block Friedman

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Kalamazoo Schedule and Registration

For those interested, the complete program and registration information for this year's Medieval Congress is now available online at

Our Kalamazoo Sessions Update

Here (at last) are the details of our upcoming session for Kalamazoo in May. I append author-supplied abstracts below as well, but please note these may have changed drastically by conference time.

Michael Torregrossa

What Is the Magic of Merlin? The Appeal of the Wizard in the Contemporary World: In Celebration of the Tenth Anniversary of the Virtual Society for the Study of Popular Culture and the Middle Ages (A Roundtable)

Saturday, May 19 3:30-5:00 PM
Session 484 (Bernhard 204)

Sponsor: The Virtual Society for the Study of Popular Culture and the Middle Ages

Organizer: Michael A. Torregrossa, The Virtual Society for the Study of Popular Culture and the Middle Ages

Presider: Mikee Delony, Abilene Christian University 

Paper 1: “Merlin as Cultural Signifier”
Perry Neil Harrison, Baylor University 

The wizard Merlin is undoubtedly one of the figures of the Arthurian legend that has most thoroughly permeated the public consciousness. Appearing in scores of books, films, and television adaptations, the presence of the magician is an expected aspect during any telling of Arthur’s story, often accompanied by expectations of a very specific role within the narrative structure. Likewise, the character of Merlin has experienced a long tradition of academic scholarship, perhaps most recently in Stephen Knight’s 2009 monograph Merlin: Knowledge and Power Through the Ages.

Yet, while Merlin is among the oldest and most perpetually present figures seen within the Arthurian legend, the current image of the wizard in contemporary popular culture differs tremendously from his appearances in the earliest Arthurian texts. The purpose of this study is to examine the portrayals of Merlin during the earliest depictions in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s writings, specifically his depiction as a figure that relies upon alchemy and drugs to bring about change rather than direct magical spells. Specific attention will be given to these early depictions of Merlin are indicative of larger cultural views concerning the malleability of the bodily form. Similarly, some time will also be spent examining the cultural shifts that are illuminated by the evolution of the magician’s portrayals in literature and, subsequently, film and television.

Paper 2: “The Hanged Man: Odin as the Original Merlin Wizard”
Chris Fields, Abilene Christian University 

Merlin is often held up as the archetypical wizard character, but in truth he's just the progenitor of the modern idea of the wizard. Not only can his character be traced into the present day to figures like Gandalf, but his himself harkens back to the Urtext of the "old wizard" archetype, the Norse god Odin. For this paper I will discuss how elements of Odin's character survived the destruction of pagan Norse religion and culture and eventually found themselves into the modern wizard, exemplified by Merlin

Paper 3:  “The Trickster Tricked: Transgressive Technologies and Forbidden Knowledge in Merlin Representations”
Susan Jeffers, Independent Scholar 

This paper will look at the transgressive technologies of sharing power in recent adaptations of Merlin. Is all power or knowledge meant to be shared? What happens when power or knowledge is given, stolen, or shared? How does this affect the romantic relationships between, for example, Merlin and Nimue, or possibly Merlin and Arthur? This paper will consider these questions drawing on the ideas of Luce Irigaray and Judith Butler for support. It may suggest that contemporary audiences prefer romances involving individuals of equally matched power, but remain uncomfortable with threats to traditionally masculine authority.

Paper 4: “Merlin the Underdog: Re-Writing the Past in Arthurian Film and Television Adaptations”
Heidi Breuer, California State University, San Marcos

Adaptations of the Arthurian legend have enjoyed a continuous popularity in U.S. film and television throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.  During the two decades surrounding the turn of the 21st century, visual presentations of the Arthurian legend often utilize a rhetoric of colonization and oppression to cast the magical figures, especially Merlin (but less frequently, Morgan le Fay) as heroic underdogs who use magic to help restore justice to an oppressed group of Celtic natives.  Whereas representations like Excalibur (1981) emphasize Merlin’s role in helping Arthur colonize surrounding lands, many films and television series from the 1990s and 2000s (including Merlin 1998, The Mists of Avalon 2001, King Arthur 2004, and The Last Legion 2007) reposition Merlin as a pseudo-Celtic freedom fighter.  U.S. film and television producers and directors, in particular, have utilized the Arthurian legend in representations that function to erase what bell hooks has called “white supremacist capitalist patriarchy” by imagining an innocent, white, pre-colonialist past.

Paper 5: “Merlin’s ‘The Eye of the Phoenix’: The Search for Significance in a Desacralized World”
Hannah Gracy, West Virginia University 

The tale of the Fisher King has been passed on and reinterpreted for centuries, from traditional Arthurian legends to allusions in contemporary television shows such as Breaking Bad. As in the rest of the Arthurian saga, the magic inherent in the Fisher King's story is one facet that continues to fascinate literary, artistic, and historical enthusiasts. While the romanticized chivalry of the knights of Camelot has inspired countless interpretations and adaptations, the mystery in which the legends are steeped, particularly that of the Fisher King, owes much to the blurred lines between the supernatural and the easily explicable.

The Merlin television series has recently seized on a new interpretation of the Fisher King in the episode “The Eye of the Phoenix”, an interpretation in which the wounded king is a sorcerer whose magic has kept him barely clinging to life through the centuries as his land turns to rot. In encountering the Fisher King, young Merlin realizes that he alone possesses the skills necessary to save Camelot in its coming time of peril. The fact that Merlin must hide his magic both in the Fisher King episode and throughout the series is a unique take on the Arthurian saga, in which for the most part magic and Christianity coexist with each other in a world of clear lines dividing good from evil. This need to hide one’s innate abilities parallels the increasing desacralization of modern American culture, a desacralization shown by my paper to suppress the human quest for significance as something nonexistent and therefore unachievable.

While the desire for one’s existence to matter is nothing new, Merlin shares the ways in which the individual’s continued search for significance has evolved in the twenty-first century. Although science continues to explain away many of the world's mysteries, this in no way has lessened humanity's search for the unknown or the unexplainable. Thus, rather than disappearing into the vaults of myth, the legends of Merlin and other magic-wielders, individuals who make their own significance, have gained prominence in twenty-first century America. This may seem incongruous at first with an increasingly forward-looking and secularized culture, but my paper will demonstrate that the obsession in Merlin with the secret practicing of magic parallels humanity’s continued, albeit at times embarrassed, search for significance in a continually desacralized world. This quest is epitomized in the tale of the Fisher King, a man shown in Merlin to have outlived the days of magic and mystery but who still desperately desires his life to have meaning.

Paper 6: “The Case of Merlin as an Illustration of Postmodernism in the Francophone Graphic Novel”
Clotilde E. Landais, Purdue University 

The figure of Merlin, either per se or under different avatars of the archetypal wizard, is a central figure in contemporary Fantasy: since the medieval Arthurian legend, Merlin has been present in many novels and short-stories, but also in other forms of narrative, such as movies and TV shows, songs, and graphic novels.

In most of these representations, Merlin or his counterparts are presented as the hero figure from the proto-legend: in Robert de Boron’s Estoire de Merlin, the wizard fathered by the devil chooses to do God’s work and places his great powers at the service of the kingdom of Logres. Across centuries, the character of Merlin evolves into the archetype of the good wizard, a mentor figure with infinite powers and infinite knowledge.

However, there are some exceptions to this representation, and the Francophone graphic novel is a case in point. Series such as Merlin by Joann Sfar and José Luis Munuera (Dargaud, 1999-2003) which imagines Merlin’s childhood, or Kaamelott by Alexandre Astier and Steven Dupré (Casterman, 2006-) which re-tells the Arthurian legend, present the wizard’s figure in a different light. Sfar and Astier’s Merlins are indeed depicted as anti-heroes, but not because they are evil – which could have been explained by some versions of Merlin’s medieval legend, such as Robert de Boron’s Prose Lancelot in which the wizard is said to have never done a good deed in his life. Sfar and Astier’s representations of Merlin are different because deeply anchored in humor: even though the wizard characters have the courage and the good will of their medieval model, they usually lack his powerful skills and extended knowledge and are characterized instead by clumsiness and foolishness.

Such a parodistic rewriting of a classic works, with notably the transformation of a hero figure into an anti-heroic one, is characteristic of the playfulness of postmodernism (see for instance Hutcheon, Linda. A Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction. NY: Routledge, 2004). This presentation will show that, through the deconstruction of Merlin’s figure, the Francophone graphic novel anchors itself in postmodernism and in a self-reflection on the Fantasy genre and its motifs. The wizard figure is indeed a key motif in Fantasy, and its parody in the graphic novel – Merlin being the archetype of such a figure – is all the more significant that it does not occur as often in other media, such as the novel.

The graphic novel has always served as a critical tool of the society, especially in Belgium and in France. As the graphic novel is still considered a popular genre in these cultures which value intellectual qualities above all, I suggest that this parodistic rewriting of a figure such as Merlin, which embodies absolute knowledge, reflects a need for legitimacy. This inclusion of postmodern mechanisms in the Francophone graphic novel is thus a way to strengthen its literary identity and to assimilate itself into mainstream literature.

ICoM 2014 CFP (6/1/14)

Head's up coutesy Richard Utz at medievalism-medievalismo-mediävalismus-médiévalisme:

One of the great epistemological strengths of medievalism studies has been its openness to the many variants of cultural reception, including multiple linguistic, ideological, geographical, and disciplinary perspectives. For this year’s conference at the Georgia Institute of Technology, we specifically invite sessions and individual papers that will investigate the manifold transformations that happen when recreations, reinventions, and redefinitions of the “medieval” move from one cultural space and time to another. The conference ("Medievalisms on the Move") will feature two plenary speakers.  Sylvie Kandé’s research on the migration of medievalisms from Europe and Africa to the Americas, and Kathleen Verduin’s investigation of the North American Dante reception (see below) present excellent examples of the kind of work we invite. We also imagine contributions that would show how medievalisms move between different discourses, genres, technological modes, historical periods, geographies, religions, art forms, social levels, research paradigms, etc. In addition to these contributions to the general theme of the conference, we invite any and all papers on the reception of medieval culture in postmedieval times.

Inquiries, one page proposals for entire sessions (deadline: April 15, 2014), and one page proposals for individual papers (deadline: June 1, 2014) should be sent to the conference organizers at The conference will be held from October 24-25, 2014, in Atlanta, GA at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

SMART Spring 2014

Here is advance notice for the Spring 2014 number of SMART. Orders can be placed at their website:

SMART Fall 2013

The latest number of Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Teaching was released earlier this season. Contents as follows. As always, SMART can be purchased at



The Fall 2013 issue of Volume 20 of Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Teaching departs from a collection focusing on a single topic, which has taken the spotlight in several previous issues of SMART, to a glowing assortment of essays on a variety of engaging subjects. Gina Brandolino compares The Book of Margery Kempe to O. J. Simpson’s If I Did It, while Misty Schieberle shows us an approach to teaching Chaucer’s Nun’s Priest’s Tale using barnyard pedagogy. Michael Evans offers us “A Land War in Asia,” the relevance of medieval history to contemporary religious conflict in the Middle East. Crystal Hall shares a board game she created to encourage students to read the entire epic poem Orlando Furioso. Molly Martin’s essay examines Malory’s Launcelot and Gwenyver in the twenty-first-century classroom. Michael Livingston shows how he bridges mythology and medieval literature in teaching the medieval Orpheus. Karolyn Kinane offers an example of student-centered pedagogy by teaching Arthurian legends in a general education course. Joseph Candido rounds out the essays with his paper on teaching students to listen to Shakespeare. This broad range of subjects and approaches illustrates the interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary nature SMART. As always, a few excellent book reviews are included.

GINA BRANDOLINO Margery and “the Juice”: Teaching The Book of Margery Kempe Using O. J. Simpson’s If I Did It
MISTY SCHIEBERLE Barnyard Pedagogy: An Approach to Teaching Chaucer’s Nun’s Priest’s Tale
MICHAEL EVANS A Land War in Asia
CRYSTAL HALL Orlando Furioso: The Board Game
MOLLY MARTIN Malory’s Launcelot and Gwenyver in the Twenty-First-Century Classroom
MICHAEL LIVINGSTON Teaching the Medieval Orpheus: Bridging Mythology and Medieval Literature
KAROLYN KINANE Arthurian Legends in General Education: An Example of Student-Centered Pedagogy
JOSEPH CANDIDO Teaching Students to Listen to Shakespeare
DONALD WINEKE Book Review:  Shakespeare and the Middle Ages: Essays on the Performance and Adaptation of the Plays with Medieval Sources and Settings, edited by Martha W. Driver and Sid Ray
JENNY REBECCA RYTTING Book Review: Women and the Divine in Literature before 1700: Essays in Memory of Margot Louis, edited by Kathryn Kerby-Fulton
KAREN BOLLERMANN Book Review: Milton and Maternal Mortality, by Louis Schwartz
ROBERT GRAYBILL Book Review: Chaucer and Religion, edited by Helen Phillips
E. L. RISDEN Book Review: Humanism, Machinery, and Renaissance Literature, by Jessica Wolfe
BRIGITTE ROUSSEL Book Review:  The Medieval French Pastourelle Tradition: Poetic Motivations and Generic Transformations, by Geri L. Smith

Friday, November 15, 2013

CFP Conference on Translating early medieval poetry for the 21st century (12/15/13)

CFP: From eald to new: Translating early medieval poetry for the 21st century
Call for Papers Date:2013-12-15 (in 30 days)
Date Submitted: 2013-09-08
Announcement ID: 206424
6 – 7 June 2014

School of English, University College Cork, Ireland.

In recent years, the shelves of commercial bookshops have been graced with accessible translations of medieval poetry from the Old English, Old Irish and Old Norse traditions, including Heaney’s award-winning rendition of Beowulf. Many of these reworkings give a contemporary flavour and immediacy to medieval texts, and they are increasingly being adopted for introductory courses on medieval literature. But what place do literary translations have in the academy, and should they be taught as creative works in their own right? How are the latest translations adapting to the needs of students and teachers? What exactly do we lose, and gain, in the translation of medieval texts?

We invite abstracts for 20 minute papers from both individuals and panels. Abstracts of approx. 250 words should be emailed to Dr Tom Birkett or Dr Kirsty March at

Topics may include:
Audience, cultural specificity and local idiom
The meeting place of literary and academic translations
Past translations, constraints of precedence, and suppression of difference
Ideas of ownership, authorship and canonicity
Teaching the translation of medieval languages in the academy Problematic poetry: translating verse forms, metrics, poetic language
The potential of new media to change our relationship to the translated text
Translation theory applied to medieval texts

The closing date is 15 December 2013
Kirsty March,
School of English,
University College Cork,

Visit the website at

Thursday, September 12, 2013

New England Medieval Conference 2013

The New England Medieval Conference convenes in Providence, RI, this November and meets at the campus of the Rhode Island School of Design on 9 November 2013. The conference theme is "Empathy, Antipathy, and Love: Emotions in the Middle Ages". Conference details are promised at, but, right now, only the call for papers is available. For those interested, conference registration is online at and costs a modest $50 for the one-day event.

Monday, September 9, 2013

CFP Robin Hood Conference (expired)

The following came across in the summer and has since expired. It would be fun to work on Robin Hood in popular culture if there was more lead time. 

A tentative schedule now available at the conference website and can be accessed at

9th Biennial Conference of the International Association for Robin Hood Studies (10/31/13-11/3/13)

full name / name of organization: 
International Association for Robin Hood Studies
contact email: 
The Ninth Biennial Conference of the International Association for Robin Hood Studies will be October 31-November 3, hosted by Saint Louis University.

This year's theme will be “The Games of Robin Hood,” focusing on any aspect of games or game-playing associated with the Robin Hood stories and plays, ranging from the May-Games of the medieval outlaw, the mischief of Robin and the Sheriff, to Munday’s plays, to games the movies play with their audiences, to videogames.

The deadline for abstracts has been extended to August 15, 2013. Please see the conference’s website to upload your abstract and to register:
Also, please email your abstract to Thomas Rowland:

There is a discounted registration rate for students.

FYI: Saint Louis University, located in lovely midtown in St. Louis, Missouri, is within walking distance to many historic attractions (like the Fox Theatre) and restaurants, and within sight of the Arch and downtown. There is a nice boutique hotel on campus, and two inexpensive hotels nearby, one in the upscale Central West End and by Forest Park, the other by the trendy South Grand district. The University is home to the Vatican Film Library, repository of manuscripts on microfilm and center for paleographical study, and the St. Louis Room for rare books. Due to its central location, St. Louis usually features less expensive airfare and associated costs for traveling and staying here.

CFP Tolkien Studies (11/1/13 PCA/ACA)

Tolkien Studies – Special Topic – New for 2014!

All Proposals and Abstracts Must Be Submitted Through The PCA Database.
Please submit a proposal to only one area at a time. Exceptions and rules


Marriott Chicago Downtown Magnificant Mile, Chicago, IL
Wednesday, April 16 through Saturday, April 19th
For information on PCA/ACA, please go to
For conference information, please go to


We welcome proposals on any area of Tolkien Studies (the Legendarium, adaptations, reader reception and fan studies, media and marketing) from any disciplinary or interdisciplinary perspective.

We are considering proposals for sessions organized around a theme, special panels, and/or individual papers.  Sessions are scheduled in 1½ hour slots, typically with four papers or speakers per standard session.

If there is sufficient interest in this Special Topics Area, we may be able to develop Tolkien Studies as a permanent area for the conference.

Should you or any of your colleagues be interested in submitting a proposal or have any questions, please contact:

Bruce E. Drushel, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Media Studies
Department of Communication
Miami University
Oxford OH  45056
(513) 529-3526

To submit your panel or presentation, go to and follow the instructions for creating an account and making your submission.  ALL submissions must be made through the conference submission site.  For individual papers, please submit a title and 100-word abstract.  For sessions and panels, please submit paper/presentation titles and abstracts, along with a paragraph describing the central theme, and the names of chairs and respondents (if any).  For each participant, please provide a mailing address, institutional affiliation, and e-mail address.

CFP Medievalism in Popular Culture Area (11/1/13 PCA/ACA)

Medieval Popular Culture 

All Proposals and Abstracts Must Be Submitted Through The PCA Database.
Please submit a proposal to only one area at a time. Exceptions and rules


The Medievalism in Popular Culture Area (now the combined areas of Arthurian and Other Medievalism) accepts papers on all topics that either explore popular culture during the Middle Ages or transcribe some aspect of the Middle Ages into the popular culture of later periods.  These representations can occur in any genre, including film, television, novels, graphic novels, gaming, advertising, etc.

For this year’s conference, I would like to encourage submissions on some of the following topics:

1)     Representations of Vikings and/or Nordic mythology – With shows such as Vikings and various YA novels featuring Norse mythology characters, this seems an area worth exploration.

2)     Medieval Minutiae – appearances of medievalism in unexpected places and unexpected ways

3)     Tolkein’s The Hobbit and its adaptations – By next year we will have seen two of the three adapted films by Peter Jackson, so it may be worth discussing how that depiction is going.  This topic might work well as a Round Table, if there are enough interested parties.

4)     Humor and Medievalism – Anyone who has read Chaucer knows that the Middle Ages was not without humor, so let’s talk about it.  This panel could explore the use of anachronism for humor, or it could explore the use of humor in adaptation.

5)     Adaptations of Dante’s Divine Comedy – Dante’s circles of hell have been on the tips of everyone’s tongues since he presented them to us, but more recently Dante’s world has been the focus of gaming.  This panel could explore those representations, as well as any other adaptations that are circulating.

6)     New Entries in the Arthurian World – This panel is wide open for interpretation.

7)     Merlin and/or Other Magic Practitioners – Again, this panel is wide open for interpretation.  Entries could explore the recently completed television series Merlin or depictions of Gandalf in Hobbit or female characters such as the Red Witch in Game of Thrones.

If your topic idea does not fit into any of these categories, please feel free to submit your proposal as well.  I would like to encourage as much participation as possible, and depending on submissions, I may rearrange the topic groupings.

All papers will be included in sessions with four presenters each, so plan to present on your topic for no more than 15 minutes, inclusive of any audio or visual materials.

Submission requirements:
Please submit a title and an abstract of 100-250 words to  All submissions must be directed to the online database.  Be sure to indicate whatever audio/visual needs you may have.  Traditionally, all rooms at the PCA/ACA conference provide a projection screen with sound capability.  Presenters are required to bring their own laptops and any special connectors.

Please send all inquires to:
Christina Francis, PH.D.
Associate Professor, Medieval Literature
English Department
Bloomsburg University
400 E. Second Street
Bloomsburg, PA 17815

Friday, August 23, 2013

Getting Medieval at MAPACA

The Mid-Atlantic Popular & American Culture Association has just posted the schedule for its upcoming conference in Atlantic City this November. Details on those sessions of the Beowulf to Shakespeare Area are appended below. For those interested in attending, registration information can be accessed at

Beowulf to Shakespeare: Popular Culture in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance

Nurturing Shakespeare
Friday 3:15 pm to 4:30 pm (Bongo 2)

Papers in this panel analyze the ways in which modern theories of gender and cognition inform our readings of Shakespeare.


“About, my brains!”: Cognitive Blends in Hamlet Performance
 Michelle Callaghan (Widener University)

Questionable Shapes: Magic and gender confusion in film adaptations of Shakespeare
Annalisa Castaldo (Widener Univeristy)

Are You My Mother? Shakespeare’s Creation of the False Maternal
Aubrey L. C. Mishou

Ancient Underworld
Saturday 9:30 am to 10:45 am (Bongo 2)

The papers in this panel analyze works that consider the behavior of those relegated to society’s fringes.

Session chair: Diana Vecchio (Widener University)

“What King Forged I”?: Anxiety, Authority and Influence in Phillips’ The Tragedy of Arthur
Mary Behrman (Kennesaw State University)

The Second Shepherd’s Play as Popular Culture

Thieves, Cons and Rogues: Coney-Catching Pamphlets in Early Modern England
Kelly Jean Helm (Widener University)

Asian Adaptation
Saturday 11:00 am to 12:15 pm (Bongo 2)

“A Park or a Parking Area:” Shakespeare in Modern Japan
Michelle Danner

Comic Adaptation of Shakespeare in Korea: An Educational Toolbox
 Kang Kim (Honam University)

Medieval Monstrosity
Saturday 3:15 pm to 4:30 pm (Bongo 1)

This panel analyzes the use of the monstrous in modern narratives that make use of the medieval as well as in the original texts.

Session chair: Mary Behrman (Kennesaw State University)


Camelot and the Walking Dead: The Zombies of the Matter of Britain and the Development of Arthurian Horror Fiction
Michael A Torregrossa (The Alliance for the Promotion of Research on the Matter of Britain)

A Study of the Human Condition Through the Frame of Myth and Magic in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight 
Christina Doka

Will the Real Monsters Please Stand Up:
Diana Vecchio (Widener University)

Monday, August 12, 2013

PCMA and King Arthur Forever Update


It has been difficult of late keeping up to date with all our activities (especially emails) and recent research and conferences, and I'm trying to compartmentalize things further with the intent of (hopefully) turning the regular duties of this blog and the secretarial duties to another member of our learned society. As part of the extended planning for this sabbatical/retirement, I am beginning to pull apart our various web publications into more manageable parts. Some of these will be linked to my personal Google account (I think) and others to new groups.

 Here's the deal on Stage 1:

Our Arthurian-themed discussion lists are in the process of being transferred back to the King Arthur Forever umbrella from whence they originated back in 2000 as part of The Society for Arthurian Popular Culture Studies and will be listed henceforth under the sponsorship of the Alliance for the Promotion of Research on the Matter of Britain. This new/old organization, which will celebrate its fifteenth anniversary in 2015, will also take over our Arthurian-themed blogs, King Arthur Forever, The Arthur of the Comics Project, and The Matter of Britain on Screen, and absorb the activities of both The Alliance for the Promotion of Research on the Villains of the Matter of Britain and The Institute for the Advancement of Scholarship on the Magic-Wielding Figures of Visual Electronic Multimedia and their respective websites.

Michael A. Torregrossa
Co-Founder, The Virtual Society for the Study of Popular Culture and the Middle Ages
Founder, The Alliance for the Promotion of Research on the Matter of Britain

Kalamazoo 2014 CFPs

One last post for the night:

The complete call for papers for the 49th International Congress on Medieval Studies is now available and can be viewed at

CFP The Magic of Merlin (9/15/13)

Here are the details on our sponsored session for 2014: 

What Is the Magic of Merlin?
The Appeal of the Wizard in the Contemporary World:
A Roundtable in Celebration of the Tenth Anniversary of the
Virtual Society for the Study of Popular Culture and the Middle Ages

49th International Congress on Medieval Studies
Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan
8-11 May 2014

The Virtual Society for the Study of Popular Culture and the Middle Ages was founded in 2004 in a concerted effort, as our web site explains, “to promote and foster scholarship on and teaching and discussion of representations of the medieval in post-medieval popular culture and mass media.” Much of the success of our mission has occurred through our presence at the annual International Congress on Medieval Studies, and we invite proposals from individuals interested in helping us to fulfill this undertaking as part of the commemoration of our tenth anniversary as a learned society. 

For 2014, we are interested in exploring in more detail the transformations of one popular legend with ties to the medieval period as represented in our contemporary post-medieval culture. Our session, “What Is the Magic of Merlin? The Appeal of the Wizard in the Contemporary World: In Celebration of the Tenth Anniversary of the Virtual Society for the Study of Popular Culture and the Middle Ages (A Roundtable)”, will look at the continued popularity of the figure of Merlin and his legend, especially as evidenced by the recent television series Merlin, as well the appeal of other stories of magic-wielders (such as The Lord of the Rings / The Hobbit, The Dresden Files, Harry Potter, Legend of the Seeker, and The Wizards of Waverly Place)  to suggest why the legacy of Merlin continues to endure, especially now, despite the passage of centuries.

Those interested in participating in this session must submit a 250-500 paper proposal, a copy of their CV, and a completed Participant Information Form (available at to the organizers at by 15 September. We will make first-run decisions prior to 1 September, so please submit your materials as soon as possible. 

Final papers will be included in an essay collection to be edited by the session organizers and expected to go to press in early 2015.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Plymouth State Medieval Forum CFP 2014

35th Annual Medieval and Renaissance Forum
Plymouth State University
Plymouth, NH, USA
Friday and Saturday April 25-26, 2014

Call for Papers and Sessions
“Authors, Artists, Audiences”
Keynote speaker: Rebecca Krug, Professor of English, University of Minnesota 

We invite abstracts or panel proposals in medieval and Early Modern studies that consider how authors, artists, and audiences functioned in personal, political, religious, and aesthetic realms.
        How are authorship and artistry defined in different contexts?  
        What roles do audiences play in creativity and expression?
        How are reading and viewing conceived of or portrayed?
        What relationships exist among creator, creation, and consumer?
        How do such ideas hold meaning today?

Papers need not be confined to the theme but may cover many aspects of medieval and Renaissance life, literature, languages, art, philosophy, theology, history and music.

 Students, faculty, and independent scholars are welcome. 
Undergraduate sessions are welcome and require faculty sponsorship.  

This year’s keynote speaker is Rebecca Krug, associate professor of English at the University of Minnesota, who specializes in late medieval English literature and culture.  She is the author of Reading Families:  Women's Literate Practice in Late Medieval England (Cornell University Press, 2002) and of a number of essays, including recent pieces in The Cambridge Companion to Medieval English Culture and in A Cultural History of Gardens in the Medieval Age.  She is currently writing an essay about lunar gardening in the medieval and modern worlds as well as completing a book about Margery Kempe.

For more information visit

Please submit abstracts, a/v needs, and full contact information to Dr. Karolyn Kinane, Director

Abstract deadline: Monday January 15, 2014
Presenters and early registration: March 15, 2014

Friday, July 19, 2013

Kalamazoo 2014 Update

Our Kalamazoo session proposal has been evaluated, and, while the organizers liked two of three topics that we offered for roundtable sessions, the Society was only allowed to go forward with one session to celebrate our tenth anniversary. The call for papers will be posted by the weekend.

Michael Torregrossa
Co-Founder, The Virtual Society for the Study of Popular Culture and the Middle Ages

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Studies in Medievalism for 2013

The 2013 volume of Studies in Medievalism, published as Corporate Medievalism II, has now been released. Details and contents as follows:

Studies in Medievalism XXII
Corporate Medievalism II
Edited by Karl Fugelso


First Published: 18 Jul 2013
13 Digit ISBN: 9781843843559
Pages: 218
Size: 23.4 x 15.6
Binding: Hardback
Imprint: D.S.Brewer
Series: Studies in Medievalism
Subject: Medieval Literature
Price: $90
Details updated on 25 Jun 2013

In the wake of the many passionate responses to its predecessor, Studies in Medievalism 22 also addresses the role of corporations in medievalism. Amid the three opening essays, Amy S. Kaufman examines how three modern novelists have refracted contemporary corporate culture through an imagined and highly dystopic Middle Ages. On either side of that paper, Elizabeth Emery and Richard Utz explore how the Woolworth Company and Google have variously promoted, distorted, appropriated, resisted, and repudiated post-medieval interpretations of the Middle Ages. And Clare Simmons expands on that approach in a full-length article on the Lord Mayor's Show in London. Readers are then invited to find other permutations of corporate influence in six articles on the gendering of Percy's Reliques, the Romantic Pre-Reformation in Charles Reade's The Cloister and the Hearth, renovation and resurrection in M.R. James's "Episode of Cathedral History", salvation in the Commedia references of Rodin's Gates of Hell, film theory and the relationship of the Sister Arts to the cinematic Beowulf, and American containment culture in medievalist comic-books. While offering close, thorough studies of traditional media and materials, the volume directly engages timely concerns about the motives and methods behind this field and many others in academia.

Karl Fugelso is Professor of Art History at Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland.

Contributors: Aida Audeh, Elizabeth Emery, Katie Garner, Nickolas Haydock, Amy S. Kaufman, Peter W. Lee, Patrick J. Murphy, Fred Porcheddu, Clare A. Simmons, Mark B. Spencer, Richard Utz.


1 Editorial Note (Karl Fugelso)

2 The Corporate Gothic in New York's Woolworth Building: Medieval Branding in the Original "Cathedral of Commerce" (Elizabeth Emery)

3 Our Future is Our Past: Corporate Medievalism in Dystopian Fiction (Amy S. Kaufman)

4 The Good Corporation? Google's Medievalism and Why It Matters (Richard Utz)

5 "Longest, oldest, and most popular": Medievalism in the Lord Mayor's Show (Clare A. Simmons)

6 Gendering Percy's Reliques: Ancient Ballads and the Making of Women's Arthurian Writing (Katie Garner)

7 Romancing the Pre-Reformation: Charles Reade's The Cloister and the Hearth (Mark B. Spencer)

8 Renovation and Resurrection in M. R. James's "Episode of Cathedral History" (Patrick J. Murphy and Fred Porcheddu)

9 Rodin's Gates of Hell and Dante's Inferno 7: Fortune, the Avaricious and Prodigal, and the Question of Salvation (Aida Audeh)

10 Film Theory, the Sister Arts Tradition, and the Cinematic Beowulf (Nickolas Haydock)

11 Red Days, Black Knights: Medieval-themed Comic Books in American Containment Culture (Peter W. Lee)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

CFP Special Issues of SMART

Two recent calls for papers for special issues of Studies of Medieval and Renaissance Teaching from my fellow UConn alums. Full details on the MASSachusetts State Universities MEDIEVAL Blog by clicking the links below:

CFP for Special Journal Issue on Teaching Old Norse LiteratureGuest edited by John Sexton and Andrew Pfrenger
Proposals by 31 August 2013

CFP for Journal Issue on Teaching the Middle Ages and Renaissance with New Techniques and Technologies
Guest edited by Kisha Tracy
Proposals 1 August 2013

CFP Symposium on Medieval and Renaissance Studies (12/31/13; St Louis)

Proposals for papers and/or complete sessions are now being accepted for the Second Annual Symposium on Medieval and Renaissance Studies to be held, from Monday, June 16 through Wednesday, June 18 2014, at the midtown campus of Saint Louis University. The conference is hosted by the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. Details at their website at According to the site, "on-campus housing options include affordable, air-conditioned apartments and a luxurious boutique hotel"; in addition to housing, "Inexpensive dorm meal plans are available".