Medievalism: New discipline or scholarly no-man’s land?

Marsden, Richard A. (2018). Medievalism: New discipline or scholarly no-man’s land? History Compass, 16(2), article no. e12439.



The term ‘medievalism’ refers to how people have, since the fifteenth century, conceptualised the thousand years of history preceding that date. The study of medievalism is therefore not about the Middle Ages per se, but rather the ways in which the medieval period has been imagined in the centuries since it ended. Yet the field’s origins date from as recently as the 1970s. Medievalism Studies is thus still finding its feet and must consequently deal with some existential questions about its scope and remit, its methodological underpinnings, its implications for how history is periodised, and its relationship with more established disciplines. It also faces criticisms of Anglo-centricism as well as hostility from some historians thanks to the doubts its practitioners raise over established delineations between scholarly and creative depictions of the medieval period. Nonetheless, this new field offers a much-needed challenge to the calcified disciplinary boundaries that shape academia today.

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