International Society for the Study of Medievalism

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The International Society for the Study of Medievalism is an academic organization that exists to promote the interdisciplinary study of the popular and scholarly reception of the Middle Ages in postmedieval times. The society is based on the work and studies of Leslie J. Workman (1927–2001), who is recognized as the founder of the academic study of medievalism in the English-speaking world. The work of the society is characterized as open to innovative and inclusive interdisciplinary scholarship. As Elena Levy-Navarro writes: "The Society has not restricted itself to a single definition of medievalism, and has, both by its calls for papers and by its acceptance and inclusion, encouraged academics to explore medievalism in such disparate phenomenon as the 'Celtic' tattoo, medieval gaming, and the early modern. Such an expansiveness that resists firm boundaries, and thus resists any efforts to develop a concrete field of specialty over which the academic can preside as expert is evident to the continued commitment of its members to electronic media that can provide (for those who can afford it) open access to its collective work, including its journal, Year’s Work in Medievalism, and its community-authored blog, Medievally Speaking. One need only consider the subtitle of this blog—'An Open Access Review Journal Encouraging Critical Engagement with the Continuing Process of Inventing the Middle Ages' (emphasis mine)—to see that the members insist on an openness, in which they critically engage—but not adjudicate—the 'continuing process of inventing the Middle Ages.'"[1] In 2017, the ISSM's president, Richard Utz, published a short monograph, Medievalism: A Manifesto, that embedded the subject of medievalism studies within the larger academic contexts of reception studies, feminism, gender studies, and medieval studies.[2]

The society maintains a peer-reviewed journal, Studies in Medievalism, an online journal for shorter articles (The Year's Work in Medievalism), and a review journal, Medievally Speaking edited by Richard Utz.[3] They also organize annual conference sessions at the International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University and the International Medieval Congress at the University of Leeds, and hold their own Annual International Conferences on Medievalism at institutions of higher education worldwide.[4]

Studies in Medievalism[edit]

Studies in Medievalism is an annual publication that, as noted on its title page, "provides an interdisciplinary medium of exchange for scholars in all fields, including the visual and other arts, concerned with any aspect of the post-medieval idea and study of the Middle Ages and its influence, both scholarly and popular, of this study on Western society after 1500."[5]

The series was founded in 1979 by Leslie J. Workman as an independent publication.[6] It is now published by Boydell & Brewer, Ltd., and has been edited since 2006 by Karl Fugelso. Since 2009, each volume has begun with a series of 3,000-word, commissioned essays on such topics as "Defining Medievalism(s)," "Defining Neomedievalism(s)," and "Medievalism and the Corporation." But the series is otherwise open to any paper that addresses medievalism in at least 6,000 words, and recent topics have ranged from representations of King Alfred in Charles Dickens' A Child's History of England[7] to medievalist music in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings films.[8]

Studies in Medievalism does not publish reviews. All reviews of works, performances, etc., re-imagining the Middle Ages in postmedieval times are published in the journal's online review "arm," Medievally Speaking.

The Year's Work in Medievalism[edit]

The journal The Year's Work in Medievalism is currently edited by Edward L. Risden (St. Norbert College) and Richard Utz (Georgia Tech). Former editors include Leslie J. Workman and Gwendolyn Morgan (Montana State University).


  1. ^ Elena Levy-Navarro: "A Long Parenthesis Begins," in Medievalism Now, ed. by E. L. Risden, Karl Fugelso, and Richard Utz (2014)
  2. ^ Utz, Richard Medievalism: A Manifesto (Bradford, UK; Kalamazoo, MI: ARC Humanities Press, 2017.
  3. ^ Utz, Richard. "medievally speaking – medievalism in review". Retrieved 2011-10-24. 
  4. ^ "International Conference on Medievalism". International Society for the Study of Medievalism. Retrieved 2011-10-24. 
  5. ^ Karl Fugelso, ed., Studies in Medievalism: Defining Neomedievalism(s), XIX, 2010
  6. ^ "History". International Society for the Study of Medievalism. Retrieved 2011-10-24. 
  7. ^ Emily Walker Heady, "A Steam-Whistle Modernist?: Representations of King Alfred in Dickens's A Child's History of England and The Battle of Life," Studies in Medievalism: Defining Medievalism(s), XVII, ed. Karl Fugelso, 2009
  8. ^ Stephen Meyer, "Soundscapes of Middle Earth: The Question of Medievalist Music in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings Films," Studies in Medievalism: Defining Medievalism(s) II, XVIII, ed. Karl Fugelso, 2010