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UCR Hosts Conference on Medievalism

UCR Hosts Conference on Medievalism

The Nov. 7-8 event will explore how the medieval past contributes to modern politics and culture.

(October 29, 2008)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – In cooperation with the Australian Research Council, UC Riverside will bring together leading international and University of California scholars on how ideas about the Middle Ages have shaped recent political agendas and national identities in a conference Nov. 7-8.

Panels will discuss King Arthur as a national symbol, medieval chivalry in World War I, the psychological significance of reviving the past, “Beowulf” on the page and on the screen, the Middle Ages in ballet, medieval crime fiction, the origins of blasphemy, and the destruction and reconstruction of medieval monuments.

“Medievalism, Colonialism, Nationalism: A Symposium” is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 7, and from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 8, in Humanities and Social Sciences 1500. Attendance is free, but there is a fee of $6 for parking.

The conference grew out of an ongoing UCR workshop on “Medieval Cultures and Postmodern Legacies” sponsored by the Mellon Foundation Workshop in the Humanities. Over the past four years, the workshop has brought together UCR faculty and graduate students with distinguished researchers.

“In addition to studying the past, scholars have recently realized that it is important to study how ideas about the medieval past have contributed to modern politics and culture,” said conference organizer John Ganim, professor of English. Ganim noted, for example, how recent conflicts both in the Balkans and in the Middle East have been justified as unfinished business from medieval wars.

A related display will be on view at Special Collections on the fourth floor of UCR’s Rivera Library. Melissa Conway, director of Special Collections and a specialist in medieval studies, has assembled items from UCR’s collections related to the symposium.

An afternoon tea on Friday, Nov. 7, will be served in Special Collections, which will give participants an opportunity to view the specially curated display.

The speakers and their topics include:

Elizabeth Allen, UC Irvine, “Perkin Warbeck and Pretenses of the Past”; Seeta Chaganti, UC Davis, “ ‘Raymonda’: A Medieval Past in Nineteenth-Century Motion”; Louise D’Arcens, University of Wollongong, Australia, “Life on the Murrumbidgee: Medieval Legacies in the Novels of Mark Twain and Joseph Furphy”; Aranye L. O. Fradenburg, UC Santa Barbara, “(Dis)Continuity: A History of Dreaming”; David Lawton, Washington University, St Louis, “Blasphemy in the Twenty First Century”; Andrew Lynch, University of Western Australia, “Arthur, Empire and Australia.”

David Marshall, California State University, San Bernardino, “Hrothgar, Heorot, and Colonialism in Popular Culture”; Anne McKendry, University of Melbourne, Australia,
“Celts, Saxons and Detectives: The Political Medievalism of Peter Tremayne”;
Kristen Noone, UC Riverside, “ ‘Coming home without a head is not very delightful’: J.R.R. Tolkien and the Battle of Maldon”; Thomas Prendergast, College of Wooster,
“Medievalism and the Uncanny: A Fantasy of History”; Brenda Schildgen, UC Davis,
“Medievalism and Post-Revolutionary France: Making the French Nation”; Carol Symes, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana and Harvard University, “At War with the Past: The Medieval Battlegrounds of the Western Front”; and Stephanie Trigg, University of Melbourne, Australia, “The Republican Robin Hood: Ned Kelly, Medievalism and Anti-Medievalism.”

The conference has been organized by John Ganim, professor of English at UCR, and is sponsored by the University of California Humanities Research Institute, the Center for Ideas and Society at UCR, the UCR Department of English, the Australian Research Council and the Mellon Workshop on Medieval Cultures. For information contact Laura Lozon at (951) 827-1555 or


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