Session Title

Medievalists Writing Fiction about the Middle Ages: Perspectives from Authors and Scholars

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Special Session

Organizer Name

Debra E. Best; Trish Ward

Organizer Affiliation

California State Univ.-Dominguez Hills; College of Charleston

Presider Name

Alison Gulley

Presider Affiliation

Appalachian State Univ.

Paper Title 1

A Matter of Multiple Audiences: Fictionalizing the Middle Ages

Presenter 1 Name

Rebecca Barnhouse

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Youngstown State Univ.

Paper Title 2

Retelling Chaucer's Canterbury Tales with Modern American Teenagers

Presenter 2 Name

Kim Zarins

Presenter 2 Affiliation

California State Univ.-Sacramento

Paper Title 3

Justice as Women's Work in the Novels of Candace Robb

Presenter 3 Name

Teresa Marie Hooper

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Maryville College

Paper Title 4

Fiction and the Art of Research

Presenter 4 Name

Bruce Holsinger

Presenter 4 Affiliation

Univ. of Virginia

Start Date

11-5-2018 10:00 AM

Session Location

Schneider 1360

Description

Knowing too much about a topic can be an impediment—especially for authors of historical fiction. Facts can have an annoying tendency to get in the way of a writer’s need to craft a compelling story. Yet this hasn’t stopped medievalists from drawing on their scholarly backgrounds to write fiction set in the Middle Ages. Recent publications encompass a variety of genres: historical novels such as Lucy Pick’s Pilgrimage; mysteries, including Bruce Holsinger’s A Burnable Book; fantasy such as Susan Signe Morrison’s Grendel’s Mother; and children’s books, including Katy Beebe’s Brother Hugo and the Bear. These types of books raise a number of questions: How do authors negotiate the tension between what their research tells them and the needs of the story? Does their scholarly background hamper their storytelling abilities? In what circumstances do non-scholars do a better job of portraying the Middle Ages? What can fiction uncover about the Middle Ages that academic writing doesn’t reveal, and in what ways does writing fiction change scholars as medievalists? This session, continuing the conversation begun at a well attended session from the 2017 Congress, invites medievalists—those who write fiction and those who don’t—to reflect on what it means to have scholars fictionalizing the Middle Ages.

Debra Best

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May 11th, 10:00 AM

Medievalists Writing Fiction about the Middle Ages: Perspectives from Authors and Scholars

Schneider 1360

Knowing too much about a topic can be an impediment—especially for authors of historical fiction. Facts can have an annoying tendency to get in the way of a writer’s need to craft a compelling story. Yet this hasn’t stopped medievalists from drawing on their scholarly backgrounds to write fiction set in the Middle Ages. Recent publications encompass a variety of genres: historical novels such as Lucy Pick’s Pilgrimage; mysteries, including Bruce Holsinger’s A Burnable Book; fantasy such as Susan Signe Morrison’s Grendel’s Mother; and children’s books, including Katy Beebe’s Brother Hugo and the Bear. These types of books raise a number of questions: How do authors negotiate the tension between what their research tells them and the needs of the story? Does their scholarly background hamper their storytelling abilities? In what circumstances do non-scholars do a better job of portraying the Middle Ages? What can fiction uncover about the Middle Ages that academic writing doesn’t reveal, and in what ways does writing fiction change scholars as medievalists? This session, continuing the conversation begun at a well attended session from the 2017 Congress, invites medievalists—those who write fiction and those who don’t—to reflect on what it means to have scholars fictionalizing the Middle Ages.

Debra Best