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IMC 2020: Sessions

Session 204: Medievalism in British Literature from the 20th and 21st Centuries

Monday 6 July 2020, 14.15-15.45

Moderator/Chair:James Antonio Paz, School of Arts, Languages & Cultures, University of Manchester
Paper 204-aMemory, Violence, and Medieval History in Kazuo Ishiguro's Buried Giant
(Language: English)
Jonathan Brent, Centre for Medieval Studies University of Toronto
Index terms: Historiography - Medieval, Language and Literature - Other, Medievalism and Antiquarianism
Paper 204-bDecolonising the Black Death: Sylvia Townsend Warner's The Corner That Held Them
(Language: English)
Ben Dodds, Department of History, Florida State University
Index terms: Historiography - Modern Scholarship, Medievalism and Antiquarianism
Paper 204-cBeastly 'jesters, servants and playfellows': Animality, Humanity, and Medievalism in C. S. Lewis's That Hideous Strength and T. H. White's The Once and Future King
(Language: English)
Christine Robson, Department of English Literature, King's College London
Index terms: Education, Language and Literature - Comparative, Medievalism and Antiquarianism, Rhetoric

Paper -a:
Kazuo Ishiguro's 2015 novel The Buried Giant uses its fantastical post-Arthurian landscape as a setting to explore the role that memory plays in atrocity and healing, both personally and socially at the levels of nation and race. Ishiguro's nebulous medieval landscape belies the book's serious debt to medieval texts, in terms not simply of material, but of central thematic issues like the relationship between generational violence and racial animus. This paper argues that Ishiguro's book is indebted in this respect to two medieval authors, Geoffrey of Monmouth and the Venerable Bede, who have hitherto been neglected in studies of the novel.

Paper -b:
The Black Death functions as a border between our historical consciousness of the Middle Ages, our understanding of the present and our fears for the future. It became part of colonial narratives, a trial from which Europe supposedly emerged stronger and ready to dominate the world. Warner's 1948 account of fictional nuns and their experience of the Black Death represents a significant shift away from these narratives. This shift will be explored through examination of Warner’s choice of the Black Death as subject matter, its connection with her work in the Second World War and its grounding in research on medieval history.

Paper -c:
C. S. Lewis and T. H. White use medievalism, magic, and mystery to blur boundaries between humanity and animality. Lewis's That Hideous Strength (1945) and White's The Once and Future King (1938-1977) contain corresponding elements demonstrating both author's understanding and approach to medieval identity. This paper intends to explore the animal-human aspects of both novels; White's use of animals as educators whilst Lewis creates an Eden-esque conclusion. The medievalism of these authors is reflected in the presentation of animals' place in relation to man, how character and narrative is influenced by this and the importance of concluding with animals.