Medievalism, Politics and Mass Media: Appropriating the Middle Ages in the Twenty-First Century [Paperback]

Andrew B.R. Elliott(Author)

ISBN: 9781843845850 | Published by: D.S. Brewer | Series: Medievalism | Volume: 10 | Year of Publication: 2021 | 235p, H9.25 x W6.25, 7 color.
Status: In Stock - Available

Medievalism, Politics and Mass Media


In 2001, George Bush provoked global uproar by describing the nascent War on Terror as a "Crusade". His comments, however, were welcomed by Al-Qaeda, who had long been describing Western powers in precisely the same terms, as modern Crusaders once again invading the Middle East. Ten years later in 2011, Anders Behring Breivik launched a tragic attack in Norway, killing 77 unarmed civilians, mostly teenagers. Breivik saw himself as a Templar Knight, a member of a group of knights allegedly resurrected in London in 2002 by one "Lionheart". Later investigations suggested that the blogger, Lionheart, might have had links to the right-wing, anti-Muslim, English Defence League and otherso-called "counterjihad" blogging networks decrying an Islamic invasion of Europe.
Though extreme examples, these cases all share a crucial detail: the framing of current political issues in terms of recognisable medieval precedents. In the widespread use of medievalism across social- and mass-media channels, it is clear that such political medievalisms are not intended as a specific reference to a historical precedent, but as a use of the past for modern concerns. The argument of this book is that we need new ways of analysing this kind of medievalism; extending far beyond the concept of anachronism or inaccuracy, references to Crusades, Templars and Vikings affect the way weunderstand our world. Using theories of communicationand media studies to examine popular medievalism, the author investigates what effect such medieval terminology can have on a mass-mediated audience and on the understanding ofthe Middle Ages in general.

Table of Contents

Not Dead Yet: The Middle Ages in the Twenty-first Century
Getting Medieval on Your RSS: Medievalism and the Mass Media
"Let's not go back to the Middle Ages": Medievalism, the Dark Ages and the Myth of Progress
"This crusade, this War on Terror, is gonna take a while": The Bush Doctrine, the Crusades and Neomedievalism
"They have announced explicitly that this is a Crusader war": Al Qaeda and Holy War
"The Poor Fellow Soldiers of Christ": Anders Behring Breivik and the Templar Knights
"God bless the EDL, the new Templar Knights": The EDL, the Far Right and the Crusaders
"These women-raping, Muslim-murdering, medieval monsters": IS, the Middle Ages and the Mass Media

Reviews & Quotes

"Elliott's book is groundbreaking and gives medievalists an entirely new and welcome perspective on medievalisms in media. Furthermore, because Elliott has paid such close attention to making his ideas understandable to a broad audience, the book or particular chapters can be assigned to upper-level undergraduate students. (Mine loved it, and it prompted some of our best discussions.) . . . This book has been a revelation for me and my own scholarship and teaching."


"If you have ever muttered under your breath or railed against radio, TV or social media as yet another failing politician invokes an invidious and misguided comparison with the Middle Ages in the form of a new Crusade or the barbarity of the Dark Ages, then this is the book for you. [It] does medieval studies the great service of unpacking the problem in commendable detail..It is an eminently re-readable book, a recommendation surprisingly few books receive."


"Medievalism, Politics and Mass Media transfers the spotlight of the study of medievalism from historical, literary, and aesthetic inquiry to communication theory. . . . The astonishing quantity of [examples] cited in this book perhaps proves Elliott's point: that the medieval is so much a part of our discourse that most people probably don't even notice it anymore. Giving readers so many examples drives home that point well and insists that we notice what is right in front of us."


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