IMC 2013: Sessions

Session 933: Past in the Present - Present in the Past: European Identities through Literature in the Post-Medieval World - A Round Table Discussion

Tuesday 2 July 2013, 19.30-20.30

Organiser:Axel E. W. Müller, Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds
Moderator/Chair:Axel E. W. Müller, Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds

Memories of the past constitute the identity of individuals and groups, both making and re-making history. The past does not determine the present, but rather groups use their past to define themselves within their present: What is remembered and what is forgotten, which memories are given greater or lesser weight, how the past is written, re-written, changed, and adopted over centuries and from a range of individuals, groups, societies, nations.

At any point in time, all this can be determined anew when a community re-imagines itself on the basis of ‘its’ history, including its ‘foundation myths’ and specific critical incidents in the past which dramatically presented risks for surviving as a community. European nations define themselves through their national literary characteristics and characters, many having specific national epics and heroes which have become part of their unique national identity. Examples include the ‘sleeping ideal king who will return’, the ‘underdog rebel’, the ‘rise (and fall) of the ideal epic ruler’.

This round table discussion aims to investigate the topoi of national heroes and national epics within the study of literature on an international and comparative basis. It aims to identify the commonalities and diversities of national epic which emerged in the Middle Ages but were re-used/re-packaged in the post-medieval period.

Participants include Ingrid Bennewitz (Otto-Friedrich-Universität, Bamberg), Alaric Hall (University of Leeds), Christian Rohr (Universität Bern), and Siegrid Schmidt (Universität Salzburg).