Carol L. Robinson

March 14, 2013

An Unabashed Book Promotion for
Neomedievalism in the Media: Essays on Film, Television, and Electronic Games 
(Carol L. Robinson & Pamela Clements, eds.)
by Carol L. Robinson

Isn’t this a pretty book cover?  My nephew, Bill Robinson, did the artwork for me (on consignment). I’m extremely delighted with Bill for that cover; however, I am far more delighted with the generously generated written contributions made to the book!  I am proud to be associated with these contributors.

The book’s Preface is by Richard Utz (President, International Society for the Study of Medievalism) and the Epilogue is by Monty Python‘s Terry Jones.  In between this beginning and ending are fifteen lovely essays on electronic works (film, television, video games and online text games) – covering a wide range of topics. Contributors to the book became fascinated by what some saw as a growing trend in medievalist works, one that stood out as breaking free from the traditions of medievalism in its defiance of authenticity and seriousness While one or two contributors clearly decided that this trend was nothing particularly new and put forth arguments in that vend, most of the authors decided that this trend was new, collectively decided to identify it as “neomedievalism”, and contributed to a book-long debate as to exactly what “neomedievalism” is and does.  In other words, Neomedievalism in the Media sets out to define and explore a particular type of medievalism that seems to appear in late 20th-century and early 21st-century electronic media.   Discussions of film address: illusions of puncta (meaningful points of an image) in medievalist films that are merely about the Middle Ages rather than authentically medieval, various adaptations of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, representations of medieval Christian religion in film, and Japanese animé.  Essays on television address: Dr. Who, Robin of Sherwood, Charmed, Timeline, and Capital One commercials.  Most of the second half of the book is devoted to electronic gaming: text-based online gaming (The Frilond Campaign and The Dragon’s Inn), a video game adaptation of the medieval board game Hnefa-tafl, and various role-playing video games, both online and off-line (Magic Online, Dungeon Siege, Morrowind, World of Warcraft, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Lord of the Rings Online, and other Tolkien-esque games).   The last chapter is devoted to television, film, and video games as they embody Monty Python and the Holy Grail.   Authors featured are:  Leslie A. Coote, Pamela Clements, Christopher Roman, Jennifer deWinter, Dave Rolinson, Roderick W. McDonald, Alison Tara Walker, Lauryn Mayer, Leon Wild, Clay Kinchen Smith, KellyAnn Fitzpatrick, Amy S. Kaufman, Cory Grewell, the Moberly Brothers (Kevin and Brent), and (least of all) yours truly.

Yes, there it is: not only did I serve as Editor of the book (with Pamela Clements), but I also contributed to the contents of the book. I don’t care, honestly, if you read my words.  Well, okay, I care a little bit, but the larger goal is to promote my colleagues’ words – words for which (as Editor) I feel responsible.  I feel responsible for their care and for their being appreciated – much like an aunt might take responsibility for the care and appreciation of her nephew’s artistic work.  My words in the book were written with the specific intention of complimenting the other chapters of the anthology, and my intention here is to celebrate those other chapters, to celebrate the good scholarship put into those other chapters.   In the Preface, Utz stated:

Only in the last two decades have scholars abandoned to deplore – somewhat automatically and with little variation – the supposed lacunae of film versions of literary texts and given the genre ‘film’ its due.  And the vast field of video and online games has received even less attention, perhaps in part because of an all to obvious entertainment value that, to many scholars, still signifies that the subject is not difficult nor demanding enough to warrant recognition by the academy.  It is in this area that, I very much hope, the current volume on neomedievalism will bring about a sea change.  Not only do the scholars in this essay collection corroborate the general need for serious academic investigations of the role of contemporary media in the reception of the Middle Ages, they even reveal how the most recent generations of readers/viewers/gamers have added an additional level of understanding to the study of the myriad existing reinventions of the medieval past.

The book was peer-reviewed and sponsored by two noteworthy scholars.  Karl Fugelso (Editor, Studies in Medievalism) stated, “The wide range of essays on contemporary forms of neomedievalism lays a foundation for further research into how the Middle Ages have influenced post-medieval culture.”  Tom Shippey (a world-renowned Tolkien expert– author of J. R. R. Tolkien: Author of the Century and The Road to Middle-Earth: How J. R. R. Tolkien Created a New Mythology – as well as an established critic of other fantasy works, works written in Old English, and science fiction works) observed, “Academics – especially those with little direct knowledge of the media concerned – will find it useful catch-up, and those who do know the field and understand the theoretical perspectives offered will find in it a great deal that is thought-provoking.”   Edwin Mellen Press  would not publish Neomedievalism in the Media until after it was reviewed and positively endorsed by both Karl Fugelso and Tom Shippey (and to the credit of these scholars, the book was intensely reviewed).

Unfortunately, you may not have heard about this book, which was published in May, 2012 by Edwin Mellen Press, or (worse) you may have heard about it but could not purchase either the expensive hardcover version or the elusively available softcover version.  Understand: I am not attacking Edwin Mellen Press.  I’m just very sorry that the book was published by this company.  Why?  I did not realized how little recognition the book would receive.  I’m not referring to the recent attacks of this company’s integrity.  Edwin Mellen Press has a specific agenda: to help new authors publish their scholarship.  Furthermore, Edwin Mellen Press has a specific reader audience: libraries and their patrons.  The company honored both of these parts of its mission.  Clearly, however, this is not your ordinary publisher: Edwin Mellen Press‘s primary customer is the library and individual readers are largely ignored.  Requests to purchase paperback (much less requests to have published electronic versions) versions of their books are mostly denied.  Requests for review copies have apparently been dismissed or ignored.  I am not even confident that a copy was sent to be indexed into the MLA International Bibliography, much less other scholarly databases (something I plan to remedy with my personal pocket money, as soon as that cash it appears in my pocket).

I blame only myself (I write with a deep sigh).

A lot of devoted thought, writing, and editing was put into this book anthology of essays – years of toil, tears, lost friendships, and sacrifices to both personal health and personal finances were made.

So I ask you: will you please read this book?

Please, dear reader, read this book:

Neomedievalism in the Media: Essays on Film, Television, and Electronic Games 
(Carol L. Robinson & Pamela Clements, eds.)

Table of Contents

Preface: A Moveable Feast: Repositionings of ‘The Medieval’ in Medieval Studies, Medievalism, and Neomedievalism
(Richard Utz)

Introduction:Neomedievalism in a Vortext of Discourse: Film, Television and Digital Games
(Carol L. Robinson)

1. Remembering, Dismembering: Violating the Body in Film and Text
(Lesley Coote)

2. Neomedieval Trauma: The Cinematic Hyperreality of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales
(Pamela Clements)

3. The Use of Nature: Representing Religion in Medieval Film 
(Christopher Roman)

4. Neo-Bushido: Neomedieval Animé and Japanese Essence 
(Jennifer deWinter)

5. “You’re Still Living in the Middle Ages!”: Time Travel in Doctor Who and Psuedo-Historical, Neomedieval, Alternate Realities 
(Dave Rolinson)

6. “What Do We Do? Hop on a Bus to Medieval Times?”: The Use of Medievalism in Television Fiction 
(Roderick W. McDonald)

7. “What’s in Your Wallet?’: How to Construct an “Authentic” Middle Ages 
(Alison Tara Walker)

8. The New Scriptoria: Neomedievalism and Online Textual Communities 
(Lauryn S. Mayer)

9. Gaming with Odin: Myth, Context and Reconstruction of Hnefa-tafl, an Old Norse Board Game 
(Leon Wild)

10. The Name of the Game: Misuses of Neomedievalism in Computerized Role Playing Games 
(Clay Smith)

11. Commodifying the Medieval in Magic Online
(KellyAnn Fitzpatrick)

12. Blood Will Out: Genealogy as Destiny in Medieval(ist) Gaming 
(Amy S. Kaufman & Cory Grewell)

13. “For Your Labor I Will Give You Treasure Enough”: Labor and the Third-Estate in Medieval-Themed Role-Playing Games 
(Kevin A. Moberly & Brent Addison Moberly)

14. Neo-Tolkienism: Plays Upon Playing With Tolkien’s Playing with Language
(Carol L. Robinson & Pamela Clements)

15. “I’m Not Dead, Yet!”– The Pythonesque in Neomedieval Media 
(Carol L. Robinson)

Epilogue: Re-creating the Medieval World 
(Terry Jones)

Contribution to Scholarship:
Essays by members of the Medieval Electronic Multimedia Organization (MEMO), surveying the full range of manifestations of neomedievalism in a wide range of media genres, particularly: film, television, and video games.

Neomedievalism is a phenomenon that has appeared among films, television, and electronic games during the past twenty years. It has been widely discussed – initially during academic conference sessions led by Medieval Electronic Multimedia Organization (MEMO) and later in several volumes of Studies in Medievalism. During that period of discussion, this work has come together. Not everyone agrees upon a definition of what “neomedievalism” is (or could be).

Classification: Computers/Computer Simulation – Performing Arts/Film & Video – Performing Arts/Television
BISAC: COM072000/ PER004010 / PER010010
Registration: 978-0-7734-2662-7
Hardcover: $169.95 / £109.95 452pp 2012
*Softcover Available to Individuals: $49.95 / £32.95

Available at Edwin Mellen Press