Published online by Cambridge University Press: 12 September 2012
As noted by several essayists in this volume of SiM, medievalism has become a “growth industry.” In the last decade or so, the number of conferences and publications related to our field has exploded, particularly in response to the Beowulf, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter movies. But as even that short list suggests, multiplicity has led to something of an identity crisis. Scholars have increasingly asked to what degree and in what form a work must refer to the Middle Ages if it is to qualify as medievalism. Must it respond directly? Or can it refer to the Middle Ages via one or more intermediaries, such as J. R. R. Tolkien? Does its perceived tone and/or integrity matter? And what about its faithfulness to the Middle Ages? Indeed, how do we define the Middle Ages?
In our last volume, eight scholars attempted to answer these questions while characterizing medievalism and its origins. But, as many readers have noted, there is much more to be said on these matters. So here, as a kind of sequel, in the first section of this volume, a further seven scholars define the field. Some overtly build their discussion on the essays in SiM 17, while others react more to external literature; some wrap their definition around examples, while others wrap their examples around a definition; and some stay well within the traditional boundaries of medievalism, while others venture far beyond them.