IMC 2018: Sessions

Session 752: Grand Narratives and Big Picture Medievalism

Tuesday 3 July 2018, 14.15-15.45

Moderator/Chair:Paul B. Sturtevant,
Paper 752-aHistorical Re-Creation: On Reconstructing, Living, Re-Enacting, and Roleplaying Medieval Pasts
(Language: English)
Stefan Nyzell, Historical Studies, Department of Society, Culture & Identity, Malmö University
Index terms: Anthropology, Medievalism and Antiquarianism, Mentalities
Paper 752-bDecline and Fall: The End of Rome and the Modern World
(Language: English)
Jonathan Theodore, Department of Culture, Media & Creative Industries, King's College London
Index terms: Historiography - Modern Scholarship, Medievalism and Antiquarianism, Mentalities
Paper 752-cThe Black Death and Historical Change: (Mis)Remembering the Great Pestilence in the 20th and 21st Centuries
(Language: English)
Ben Dodds, Department of History, Florida State University
Index terms: Historiography - Modern Scholarship, Medievalism and Antiquarianism, Social History

Paper -a:
The purpose of the proposed paper is to discuss how imagined cultural landscapes of the medieval pasts and its equally imagined inhabitants are being delimited and interpreted in present day historical re-creations. Taking the point of departure that different forms of historical re-creation can be discerned analytically – the paper will discuss reconstructed, lived, re-enacted, and roleplayed medieval pasts – the participating actors are seen being members of re-creating communities with distinct interpretations of the past that are being negotiated and later materialised and/or performed. The paper uses critical cultural theory as a point of departure to analytically discuss several such communities re-creating the past in between the realistic and the fantastic.

Paper -b:
What I would like to discuss is the modern appropriation of Gibbonian ‘decline and fall’ narratives to explain the failings of modern (post) industrial civilisation and the globalised world. Fascinated and appalled by the Roman example, writers, commentators, and filmmakers have used the ‘fall of Rome’ to construct narratives of decadence and downfall that reflect their own value judgements about past and present. These societal critiques are located across the political/ideological spectrum, and have included both Marxists and traditionalist Conservatives. In this regard, the ‘decline and fall’, while obsolete in academic historiography, serves as a powerful metaphor for the concerns commentators and cultural authors in Britain, Europe, and the US have that their civilisation, or culture, is threatened by the same forces of decadence that (they believe) destroyed Rome. As I can demonstrate, these concerns have only grown since the end of the Cold War, 9/11, and the Financial, Eurozone, and migrant crises.

Paper -c:
The Black Death is one of medieval history’s best known events, but it is remembered in very different ways. This paper will examine the transition from uses of the epidemic to explore the impact of mid-20th-century crises, towards a tendency to minimalise the effects of exogenous change on human societies and, finally, to recent trends emphasising the long-term historical impact of huge and sudden mortality caused by outside factors. Thinking on the Black Death reveals deeper shifts in present-day perceptions of the role of humans in determining their fate which influence scholarship and popular media alike.