HomeMedievalists Facing Neomedievalisms : Rejection, Support, or Appropriation?

HomeMedievalists Facing Neomedievalisms : Rejection, Support, or Appropriation?

Medievalists Facing Neomedievalisms : Rejection, Support, or Appropriation?

Le médiéviste face aux médiévalismes : rejet, accompagnement ou appropriation ?

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Published on Friday, February 19, 2021


The Middle Ages are constantly being recreated, reimagined, reinvented, in novels, series, summerfestivals or political speeches. To designate these reappropriations, researchers have coined the term "Neomedievalism".This international colloquium, organized in virtual form, aims to analyze contemporary neomedievalisms and the contrasting relationships that medievalists can maintain with them.


Detailed presentation

The Middle Ages are alive. Our contemporaries constantly recreate it: historical novel, television series, comic strip, village festival, political propaganda... To designate this reappropriation, so far removed from their academic practices, researchers have coined the word “neomedievalism”, which they oppose to “medievism”, that is to say their own methodical analysis of documentary sources and the discourse of scientific type that follows. However, one cannot ignore the free adaptation for artistic or even, more problematically perhaps, for ideological purposes, by which all newcomers can interfere in this field of learning.

Most medievalists are aware that the “referential contract” that they enter into with their listeners or readers – too often their own colleagues but few outside of academia – is distinguished from the “fictional contract” established between a large audience and the novelist, screenwriter or director. They are therefore not afraid to have their approach mixed up with that of the creator. Similarly, professional historians appreciate that neomedievalism attracts enlightened amateurs to their discipline and that it arouses new vocations. Besides, didn’t J.R.R. Tolkien, the father of fantasy, or Umberto Ecco, author of a thrilling novel with planetary resonance, deeply belong to their milieu? Finally, experimental archaeology, which has made so much for the progress of the knowledge of the gestures of work and the material life of medieval people, often overlaps with tourist attraction, as evidenced by the current craze for the castle of Guédelon (France).

At a time when the dissemination of research is needed more than ever, should neomedievalists step out of their ivory tower to address non-specialists in an educational way? Their field of learning cannot become their preserve. The bridges stretched between "medievalism" and "neomedievalism" do not, however, prevent them from fighting the political instrumentalization of the Middle Ages, which is more and more significant each day. This (mis)appropriation of the past is almost always assimilated to the so-called "clash of civilizations", where Templars and other self-proclaimed Crusaders cross swords with Muslims, the most extreme of whom are tempted by the return to the blessed, rigorous, and austere times of the prophet and of its fighters. More innocent seem to be the festivals and other shows where the medieval era becomes a mocking and saucy carnival. This playful representation is opposed to another one, equally simplistic, painting the Middle Ages as a time of obscurantism, oppression and cruel barbarism.

The social demand for medieval history is pressing. It is spread through a "Middle Ages fashion", perceptible in the media, whether it be in the TV series Kaamelott or in the entrance of Georges Duby's work in La Pléiade edition. This interest sometimes crystallizes in the implication of (neo)medievalists in cultural and artistic projects, to enrich a script, correct a novel or write a comic strip. Should we reject these non-specialists on the ground that their reconstructions would violate the rules of our discipline? If need be, the question proves how important it is to organize a major international congress in France to discuss neomedievalism, a subject frequently questioned in other countries and in particular in the United States. The stakes of this new field of knowledge are essential, because the reception of the Middle Ages by our fellow-citizens conditions the social recognition of neomedievalists as scientists and, consequently, the survival of our disciplines in a democratic world.


Monday, March 29th

  • 4:30 - 4:45 p.m. : Welcome speech and thanks from Martin Aurell (Univ. Poitiers)
  • 4h45 - 4:30 p.m. :  Introduction by Martin Aurell : Histories of Neomedievalism, Historicals Neomedievalisms
  • 5:00 - 5:00 p.m. :  Conference by Tommaso di Carpegna Falconieri (Univ. Urbino Carlo Bo), "Medieval studies and Neomedievalism: a castle with crossed destinies"
  • 5:40 - 5h55 p.m. : Questions and discussions
  • 5:55 - 6:05 p.m. : Break and Posters
  • 6:05 - 6:25 p.m. : Marion Bertholet (Univ. Aix-Marseille), "Italian Middle Ages from the Enlightenment to Sismondi: A Form of Anti-Neomedievalism ?"
  • 6:25 - 6:45 p.m. : Joanna Pavleski-Malingre (Univ. Rennes 2), "To study Mélusine's political fortunes from the Middle Ages to the present day: interests and challenges of long-term Neomedievalism"
  • 6:45 - 7:00 p.m. : Questions and discussions

Tuesday, March 30th

  • 4:0030 - 4:45 p.m. : Welcome speech and Thanks
  • 4:45 - 5:00 p.m. : Introduction by Justine Breton : Middle Ages everywhere
  • 5:00 - 5:20 p.m. : Romain Vincent (Univ. Paris 13),  "Medievalism and video games: playing in the Middle Ages at school"
  • 5:20 - 5:40 p.m. : Martin Bostal : "The historical reconstruction of Middle Ages: a "serious leisure" between neomedievalism and the search for historicity"
  • 5:40 - 5:55 p.m. : Break et posters 

5:55 - 6:40 p.m. : Round Table "How to make the Middle Ages present today?"

  • Fabien Paquet (Univ. Caen)
  • Fanny Cohen-Moreaux (podcast Passion Médiévistes)
  • Isabelle Catteddu (INRAP), Fanny Madeline (Univ. Paris 1)

6:40 - 7:00 p.m. : Questions and discussions

Wednesday, March 31th

  • 3:00 p.m. :  General assembly of the association "Modernités Médiévales"
  • 4:30 - 4:45 p.m. : Welcome speech and Thanks
  • 4:45 - 5:00 p.m. : Introduction de Florian Besson : Review and Prospects
  • 5:00 - 5:20 p.m. : Alain Corbellari (Univ. Lausanne), "The Eternal Return of the Middle Ages. For a long History of Neomedievalism"
  • 5:20 - 5:40 p.m. : Vincent Ferré (Univ. Paris Est-Créteil), "Neomedievalism(s): Disciplinary, Cultural, Linguistic divisions since 1979"
  • 5:40 - 5:55 p.m. : Break and posters 
  • 5:55 - 6:15 p.m. : Georges Bertin (CNAM des Pays de la Loire), "News of neo-medievalism, territories and networks, action research and participant observation"
  • 6:15 - 6:45 p.m. : Questions and discussions

Thursday, April 1st

  • 4:30 - 4:45 p.m. : Welcome speech and Thanks
  • 4:45 - 5:00 p.m. : Introduction by Justine Breton: The Middle Ages in words
  • 5:00 - 5:20 p.m. : Anne Besson (Univ. Artois), "Medieval Fantasy and Medieval studies: a one-sided relationship?"
  • 5:20 - 5:40 p.m. : Isabelle Olivier (Univ. Artois), "Do the Middle Ages and children's literature go hand in hand? Tensions (fruitful?) between didactic and entertainment"
  • 5:40 - 5:55 p.m. : Break and Posters
  • 5:55 - 6:15 p.m. : Tristan Martine (Univ. Angers), "Knights and Speech Bubbles: What Is at Stake in Neomedievalist Comic Books?"
  • 6:15 - 6:45 p.m. : Questions and discussions  

Friday, April 2nd

  • 4:30 - 4:45 p.m. : Welcome speech and Thanks
  • 4:45 - 5:00 p.m. : Introduction by Lucie Malbos : A Living Neomedievalism

5:00 - 5:45 p.m. : Table ronde "The Medievalist facing non-medievalists: Tensions and Attentions"

  • Paul Sturtevant (Smithsonian Institution)
  • Florian Besson
  • Cécile Voyer (Univ. Poitiers)
  • Chloé Maillet (École Supérieure d’Art et de Design, Angers)

5:45 - 6:15 p.m. : Questions and discussions

6:15 - 6:25 p.m. : Break and Posters

6:25 - 6:40 p.m. : Conclusion


  • Monday, March 29, 2021
  • Tuesday, March 30, 2021
  • Wednesday, March 31, 2021
  • Thursday, April 01, 2021
  • Friday, April 02, 2021


  • histoire, Moyen Âge, médiévalisme, médiéval


  • CESCM (UMR 7302)
    courriel : medievalisme [at] univ-poitiers [dot] fr

Information source

  • Pierre Grandjean
    courriel : pierre [dot] grandjean [at] etu [dot] univ-poitiers [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Medievalists Facing Neomedievalisms : Rejection, Support, or Appropriation? », Conference, symposium, Calenda, Published on Friday, February 19, 2021, https://doi.org/10.58079/162a

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