Thursday, April 7, 2011

Kalamazoo 2012 Session Proposals

The Alliance for the Promotion of Research on the Villains of the Matter of Britain in association with The Institute for the Advancement of Scholarship on the Magic-Wielding Figures of Visual Electronic Multimedia and The Virtual Society for the Study of Popular Culture and the Middle Ages has proposed the following session for the 47th International Congress on Medieval Studies to be held from 10-13 May 2012. Interested parties should contact the Society at (please note "Are You From Camelot 2012" in the subject line). An official call for papers will be distributed this summer upon notification of acceptance from the Congress's organizing committee.

Are You From Camelot? Recent Arthurian Film, Television, and Electronic Games as Innovators of the Arthurian Tradition and Their Impact (Roundtable)

The Matter of Britain is alive and well in modern mass media, and the media of film and television, especially, have long been recognized as important disseminators of the Arthurian legend to audiences of various ages and in disparate countries across the globe. Such productions are often assessed by their fidelity to pre-established versions of the legend, an anxiety of influence that Norris J. Lacy has termed “the tyranny of tradition.” However, mass media like film, television and electronic games also function as innovators of new traditions for representing characters or motifs that then become fixed in popular Arthuriana (consider, for example, both the long-standing iconographic portrayal of Merlin, cemented via Wolfgang Reitherman’s The Sword in the Stone, as an aged figure with flowing white hair, beard and robes or John Boorman’s conflation—copied by many later writers—of Morgan le Fay and Morgause in Excalibur and the resulting figure’s role as the mother of Mordred, an expansion of her traditional filmic role as an enemy within Camelot), yet, to date, few studies, beyond lamentations of how to, as Lacy, puts it to “unteach” these texts, have explored this aspect of these modern Arthurian texts. The late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, in particular, include many innovative productions (including Alexandre Astier’s Kaamelott; Steve Barron’s Merlin; Chris Chibnall and Michael Hirst’s Camelot; Antoine Fuqua’s King Arthur; Julian Jones, Jake Michie, Johnny Capps, and Julian Murphy’s Merlin; Mythic Entertainment’s Dark Age of Camelot; SyFy’s Stargate SG-1 and Type-Moon’s Fate/Stay Night) that deviate significantly from preexisting literary and filmic/televisual traditions of the legend, and these works have influenced and will influence both further Arthurian texts and the popular reception of the Arthurian story as they are dispersed across the intertextual landscape of the modern Matter of Britain. For this session, in furtherance of the goals of the three sponsoring organizations, we are particularly interested in how these recent representations of Arthurian characters (for example King Arthur, Guinevere, Merlin, Morded, Morgan le Fay, and Morgause) and motifs (such as the Grail legend) in film, television, and electronic games have shaped contemporary conceptions of these elements and, also, in exploring how these productions may influence ongoing or future Arthurian texts.

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