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Below is a CFP for a panel on fantasy and politics I am putting together for a conference on 24-25th October in Atlanta:”Medievalisms on the Move” Medievalism folks are open to work on genre, and it would be great to have some contributions from folk who aren’t Medieval Studies specialists (although they are also welcome of course). The deadline is quite soon, on the 2nd of June. In light of that, if you’re interested but not able to provide an abstract by then, an indicative title with abstract to follow would be fine. Contact me off list at <helen.young AT> with abstracts, expressions of interest, or queries.

All best,

J. R. R. Tolkien¹s work is widely associated with a conservative political outlook and approach to identity questions such as gender and race. Scholars have challenged the basis of this association, but it remains powerful in wider culture: for the fantasy genre in particular, “Tolkienian” is synonymous with “medievalist” and with conservatism.

Rather than engaging with Tolkien¹s work itself, this panel will explore ways in which the conservative connotations of “medieval” in the fantasy genre, are being challenged in the twenty-first century. It will examine the ways that medievalisms in fantasy have changed, or remained the same, in the five decades since the first US paperback edition of Lord of the Rings kick-started the genre as a published phenomenon. Are writers, and other creators, simply reproducing the perceived link between political conservatism and medievalism, are they challenging it, or are their engagements more complex?

Papers might ask how contemporary trends in technology, society, politics, and culture influence contemporary writers, readers, and critics as they take up medieval material and the idea of the Middle Ages. Are there shifts in the genre as a whole? Tolkien drew on the European Middle Ages, as do his imitators; is this pattern changing as Eurocentric views become increasingly problematic and the world is ever more globalised? How do questions of identity, including but not limited to, gender, race, dis/ability, and sexuality play out in medievalist fantasy worlds? What impact has the rise of digital media had? What voices, other than Tolkien’s, have shaped the medievalisms of the fantasy genre? The panel invites contributions not only on fantasy fiction, but also games, films, and television series, reflecting the multi-media nature of the genre.

Dr Helen Young
DECRA Postdoctoral Fellow
Department of English
University of Sydney