Session Title

Medieval America: Traditions, Folklore, Identity

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Special Session

Organizer Name

Alice Hutton Sharp

Organizer Affiliation

McGill Univ.

Presider Name

Alice Hutton Sharp

Paper Title 1

Medieval Louisiana: Understanding Medieval French Literature through Cajun Carnivalesque Strategies

Presenter 1 Name

Monica L. Wright

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Univ. of Louisiana-Lafayette

Paper Title 2

The Truth Is Up There: UFOs and National Identity from Medieval Europe to Antebellum America

Presenter 2 Name

Kaitlin Heller

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Univ. of Toronto

Paper Title 3

Parliamentary Gothic: Collecting and Creating the Medieval in Canada's Parliament Buildings

Presenter 3 Name

Laurel Ryan

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Univ. of Louisiana-Lafayette

Paper Title 4

"The Improbable Medieval World" of Newfoundland: Desiring Medieval Filiation

Presenter 4 Name

Michael Collins

Presenter 4 Affiliation

Univ. of Toronto

Start Date

12-5-2016 7:30 PM

Session Location

Fetzer 1060

Description

The pejorative use of the word "medieval" is a common theme among medievalists dismayed by its casual deployment in news articles and editorials. Even among specialists to whom the medieval period is familiar, the adjective describes something understood as temporally distant or otherwise foreign. This is particularly true in the Americas, where the Middle Ages, as traditionally understood, are both temporally and geographically distant. Research on the ground, looking at buildings or manuscripts, usually entails trans-Atlantic trips and their accompanying grant applications. What medieval buildings there are—like the twelfth-century Spanish church apse found in the Cloisters of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's— were transported across the ocean, stone by stone, in the earlier part of the twentieth century.

While this distance provides much of the intellectual appeal of medieval studies, the resulting isolation of medieval cultural practices masks the threads of continuity that still influence the cultures of North and South America. Little can be done about the physical distance, but the goal of this session is to break down this rhetorical and temporal distance by discussing the continuation of medieval cultural artifacts in the folklore and traditions found on the western side of the Atlantic. In understanding these not as primitive holdovers of a past age but as components of a changing and continuously-developing society, the medieval heritage of the Americas will be shown to endure as a part of modern history.

-Alice Hutton Sharp

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May 12th, 7:30 PM

Medieval America: Traditions, Folklore, Identity

Fetzer 1060

The pejorative use of the word "medieval" is a common theme among medievalists dismayed by its casual deployment in news articles and editorials. Even among specialists to whom the medieval period is familiar, the adjective describes something understood as temporally distant or otherwise foreign. This is particularly true in the Americas, where the Middle Ages, as traditionally understood, are both temporally and geographically distant. Research on the ground, looking at buildings or manuscripts, usually entails trans-Atlantic trips and their accompanying grant applications. What medieval buildings there are—like the twelfth-century Spanish church apse found in the Cloisters of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's— were transported across the ocean, stone by stone, in the earlier part of the twentieth century.

While this distance provides much of the intellectual appeal of medieval studies, the resulting isolation of medieval cultural practices masks the threads of continuity that still influence the cultures of North and South America. Little can be done about the physical distance, but the goal of this session is to break down this rhetorical and temporal distance by discussing the continuation of medieval cultural artifacts in the folklore and traditions found on the western side of the Atlantic. In understanding these not as primitive holdovers of a past age but as components of a changing and continuously-developing society, the medieval heritage of the Americas will be shown to endure as a part of modern history.

-Alice Hutton Sharp