A fascination with a bygone era that
has brought the world creations ranging from Gothic revival
churches to the Excalibur Casino in Las Vegas, Nev., will
receive scholarly study during an international conference
meeting at Hope College at the end of this month.
The Fifteenth International Conference on
Medievalism will be held on campus on Thursday-Saturday,
Sept. 28-30. Presentations will range from "From Merlin to
Muggles: Medieval Magic Within Harry Potter," to "Robin
Hood's Progeny: Hello I'm Johnny Cash," to "Medieval
Mystics and Modern Saints: Joan of Arc in Contemporary
Film," to "The Medieval Origins of the Family."
The conference will feature papers on all aspects
of medievalism, which explores the Middle Ages as a
construction in Western culture since the era ended in
approximately 1500 A.D. According to Dr. Kathleen Verduin,
a professor of English at Hope, medievalism as a cultural
phenomenon includes the popular, like the Excalibur Casino
and Medieval Times restaurants; the artistic and
architectural, like literature and Gothic revival churches;
and the scholarly.
Medievalism was first identified as a subject for
academic inquiry by Leslie J. Workman, an independent
scholar now based at Hope who has described the phenomenon
as "the continuing process of creating the Middle Ages." A
historian trained at the University of London and Columbia
University, he founded the scholarly journal "Studies in
Medievalism" in the late 1970s, established the conference
in 1986 and organized four-week summer institutes in England
in 1996 and 1998.
Verduin, his wife, has assisted him in his
scholarly work since 1983. Until this year she served as
associate editor for "Studies in Medievalism," now an annual
volume published by the scholarly firm of Boydell & Brewer
Ltd., and in past years she also co-organized the
This year's keynote address will be presented by
Dr. William Calin, a scholar from the University of Florida-
Gainesville, who will discuss, "The Humanist Tradition from
Spitzer to Frye." The other presentations will be grouped
in sessions including "Medievalism in Modern Popular
Fiction," "Nineteenth Century Medievalisms," "Renaissance
Medievalisms," "Revisiting Chaucer," "Disappearing Saints
and Heroes," "Chasing Robin Hood," "Medieval Mysticism and
Modern Drama," "Echoes of the Medieval in the Fine Arts,"
"Theories of Medievalism," "Re-Inventions," "The Origins and
End of a Contemporary Phenomenon: Medieval Women in Murder
Mystery," "Medievalism in National Identities,"
"Transforming the Medieval through the Melancholic, the
Personal, and the Satirical," and "Intertextuality and the
Professor Gwendolyn Morgan of Montana State
University is directing this year's conference. Local
arrangements have been made by Linda Montaño, who is a
student at Hope and the wife of Dr. Jesse Montaño of the
college's English faculty. During the conference, Dr.
Montaño will present the paper "Blood of the Conquistadors,"
concerning Mexican invocation of conquistador ancestors as a
sign of superiority.
The conference has been held abroad three times--
once in Austria and twice in England. Among other
locations, it has also been held at the University of Notre
Dame, the Newberry Library in Chicago, Ill., the United
States Military Academy at West Point, the University of
Delaware, the Higgins Armory in Worcester, Mass., Montana
State University, the University of South Florida, Kalamazoo
College and Rochester, N.Y.