Session1633
TitleA New(ish) World: Medieval Influences in American Literature
Date/TimeThursday 7 July 2022: 11.15-12.45
 
SponsorRoyal Holloway, University of London
 
OrganiserHeather Moss, Department of English Studies, Durham University
 
Moderator/ChairHeather Moss, Department of English Studies, Durham University
 
Paper 1633-a Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and the Spanish Ballads
(Language: English)
Matthew Bailey, Department of Romance Languages, Washington & Lee University, Virginia
Index Terms: Language and Literature - Comparative; Medievalism and Antiquarianism
Paper 1633-b Trial by Ordeal in Albion Tourgée's Hot Plowshares
(Language: English)
John D. Kerkering, English Department, Loyola University, Chicago
Index Terms: Language and Literature - Comparative; Medievalism and Antiquarianism
Paper 1633-c Sterile Lands, Unholy Grails: Corrupting Medieval Romances in Works of the Lost Generation
(Language: English)
Heather Moss, Department of English Studies, Durham University
Index Terms: Language and Literature - Comparative; Medievalism and Antiquarianism
 
AbstractFor a nation that was founded on the notion of 'newness', intent on separation, innovation, and 'modernity', it can be somewhat surprising how often medieval influences have permeated American literature. From Twain, who traversed the boundaries between the medieval and the modern with his Connecticut Yankee in Camelot; to Fitzgerald, who superimposed the romance tradition onto the 1920s Jazz Age; and Steinbeck, who experimented with Arthurian legend - American narratives have often proved that the intangible border between the present and the past can be crossed, recrossed, and broken. The vast Atlantic Ocean provides an ideal platform for the nation to craft an individual identity away from European influence. Borders separate, conceal, keep in, keep out - they are crafted with the intent to preserve. Why, then, does so much of America's literature rely on and build upon medieval tropes and conventions? The session will aim to answer that question by exploring medieval tropes in American literature.