Richard Utz, Chair and Professor in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication at the Georgia Institute of Technology recently participated in a roundtable discussion on New Medievalism as Global Conversation: Russia, Europe, and the U.S." at the 48th Annual Meeting of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, Washington DC.
He shares his views and experiences below:
Post-Soviet Russia is often described as a “feudal society,” or as “Medieval society.” Medieval terms proliferate in the political discourse and public debates, and medieval metaphors overwhelm fiction and films. This is certainly not unique for Russia. In Europe and the United States ‘medievalism’ has become, since late 1970s, an important way of conceptualizing social changes. The goal of this interdisciplinary round table is to introduce to the scholars in the field of Slavic studies the concept of New Medievalism and the debates animated by the question of the applicability of the medieval metaphors and analogies to the understanding of our times. What does the popularity of medieval allusions say about current Russian, European, and American politics? How do they affect the current political and cultural atmosphere? Is there a dialogue or a cultural exchange of “medieval practices”? And is the concept of medievalism pertinent for the analysis of contemporary society? My own contribution focused on recent discussions of terminology in medievalism studies, including the history of medievalism, neo- and new- medievalisms, and the recent return to appreciating so-called amateurs and dilettantes in our engagement with the Middle Ages.