The United States of Medievalism
Published: August 2021© 2021
Imprint: University of Toronto Press
Page Count: 336 Pages
Illustrations: 44 colour illustrations, 6 b&w illustrations
Dimensions: 6.00 x 9.00
336 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.90 in, 44 colour illustrations, 6 b&w illustrations
The United States of Medievalism contemplates the desires, dreams, and contradictions inherent in experiencing the Middle Ages in a nation that is so temporally, spatially, and at times politically removed from them. The European Middle Ages have long influenced the national landscape of the United States through the medieval sites that permeate its self-announced republican landscapes and cities. Today, American-built medievalisms continue to shape the nation’s communities, collapsing the binaries between past and present, medieval and modern, European and American.
The volume’s chapters visit the nation’s many medieval-inspired spaces, from Sherwood Forest in Texas to California’s San Andreas Fault. Stops are made in New York City’s churches, Boston’s gardens, Philadelphia’s Bryn Athyn Cathedral, Orlando’s Magic Kingdom, Appalachian highways, Minnesota’s Viking Villages, New Orleans’s Mardi Gras, and the Las Vegas Strip. As the editors and their fellow essayists take the reader on this cross-country trip across the United States, they ponder the cultural work done by the nation’s medievalized spaces.
In its exploration of a seemingly distant period, this collection challenges the underexamined legacy of medievalism on the western side of the Atlantic. Full of intriguing case studies and reflections, this book is informative reading for anyone interested in the contemporary vestiges of the Middle Ages.
Built in the United States of America: Constructing a Medieval Past
Tison Pugh and Susan Aronstein
Part I: Building the American Middle Ages
1. Translatio Horti: Medievalized Gardens in Boston and Cambridge
Kathleen Coyne Kelly
2. Bryn Athyn Cathedral and Glencairn – and Philadelphia’s Other Medieval(ist) Jewels
Kevin J. Harty
3. The Masonic Medievalism of Washington, D.C.
4. Medieval Chicago: Architecture, Patronage, and Capital at the Fin de Siècle
Part II: Living in the American Middle Ages
5. Three Vignettes and a White Castle: Knighthood and Race in Modern Atlanta
6. Medieval New York City: A Walk through The Stations of the Cross
7. Minnesota Medieval: Dragons, Knights, and Runestones
Jana K. Schulman
8. “I yearned for a strange land and a people that had the charm of originality”: Searching for Salvation in Medieval Appalachia
9. Wounded Landscapes: Topographies of Franciscan Spirituality and Deep Ecology in California Medievalism
Part III: Playing in the American Middle Ages
10. Orlando’s Medieval Heritage Project
Tison Pugh and Susan Aronstein
11. Saints and Sinners: New Orleans’s Medievalisms
Usha Vishnuvajjala and Candace Barrington
12. Sherwood Forest Faire: Evoking Medieval May-Games, Robin Hood Revels, and Twentieth-Century “Pleasure Faires” in Contemporary Texas
Lorraine Kochanske Stock
13. Las Vegas: Getting Medieval in Sin City
Laurie Finke and Martin Shichtman
Notes on Contributors
"This is the rare medievalism-studies collection whose sum is even greater than its parts, each of which is terrific in and of itself. Every one of these essays shines a brilliant light on the many ways the Middle Ages continue to shape the world around us, particularly through lieux d'imagination, through places that invite us to imagine the medieval past in such a way as to confirm our myths about it – and about ourselves."Karl Fugelso, Professor and Chair of Art History, Towson University, and Editor-in-Chief for Studies in Medievalism
"This is a book I plan to pack in my suitcase. It is a map of the landscape of a secret medieval America; chapters on gardens, theme parks, cityscapes, and art are by some of the most original and interesting scholars studying our fantasies of a premodern past. This is as close as scholarship gets to magical realism."John M. Ganim, Distinguished Professor of English, University of California, Riverside, and author of Medievalism and Orientalism.