New Medieval Books: The Fantasy of the Middle Ages: An Epic Journey through Imaginary Medieval Worlds

Medieval Fantasy: An epic journey through medieval fantasy worlds

Written by Larissa Grolemond and Brian C. King

J. Paul Getty Museum
ISBN: 97816067581

Medieval Fantasy: An epic journey through medieval fantasy worlds It aims to reveal the many reasons why the Middle Ages proved its resilience – and applicability – to a variety of modern moments from the eighteenth through the twenty-first century. These “medieval” worlds are often the perfect ground for exploring contemporary cultural concerns and fears, as they say more about the time and place in which they were created than about the actual conditions of the medieval period. With over 140 color illustrations, from sources ranging from illuminated 13th-century manuscripts to contemporary films and video games, provided by Game of thrones Fashion designer Michelle Clapton, medieval fantasy It will surprise and delight both enthusiasts and scientists. This title was published to accompany the file Exhibit at the J. Paul Getty Museum At the Getty Center from June 21 to September 11, 2022.

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Arthur Rackham, Maid-in-waiting First, Then Followed by the Brothers Grimm: A New Translation, by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, translated by Mrs. Edgar Lucas, London, 1917. University of California, Los Angeles, Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, PT2281.G38 K5 E.I., p. 59 Little Brother and Little Sister: And Other Tales. Private Library Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California

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Beyond the duo

Ideas about gender—identity, expression, and roles—and about gender vary by place and time. Binaries such as male/female or heterosexual/gay only provide a partial view of this complex aspect of human identity. Some examples in this book – from the Middle Ages and the later Middle Ages – reveal the persistence of negative stereotypes, especially regarding women and gay individuals. Many of these people lived fuller lives and were more potent than the texts and images that heterosexual men would suggest and for them. Throughout the medieval world, homosexual activities between groups of men or women could sometimes develop into romantic or sexual relationships. Likewise, those whose gender was determined at birth can choose to express their gender in myriad ways, by wearing clothes traditionally expected of one of the sexes or performing tasks regulated by their gender identity.

Jean Becheur, Detail of Saint Joan of Arc on Horseback in Les Vies des femmes célèbres, by Antoine Dufour, Paris, France, 1504-1506. Nantes Museum – Thomas Dupree, Mrs. 17, vol. 76 p.m. – © C. Hémon / Musée Dobrée – Grand Patrimoine de Loire-Atlantique

Characters that come to mind include Mulan, who disguises himself as a soldier in place of her father, and Joan of Arc (circa 1412-1431), which is discussed later. We cannot tell whether an individual will recognize terms developed in later periods, including gay or lesbian, but also more specifically such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gay, bisexual, asexual and bi-soul , and other non-conforming or non-binary sex. Identities and Gender (abbreviated as LGBTQIA2+). History is filled with many examples of individuals who defied societal or religious norms, a fact that medieval fantasy was relatively slow to adopt. We particularly reject vile and harmful statements towards queer and trans communities by some of the famous writers mentioned in this volume.

The expectations that shaped medieval images of women, both fictional and historical, were often revised, but were eventually reinforced with almost every new retelling. In a post-medieval fantasy, one can find women warriors, queens who rule without apology, and princesses who refuse to marry, but even these are constrained by a complex set of gender-based expectations that ultimately adhere to patriarchal patterns. Take the limited example of female knights from the Middle Ages. One of the most famous and controversial figures is Joan of Arc, a peasant girl who helped the French against the English at a crucial moment of the Hundred Years’ War, but later still faces trial on charges of witchcraft, heresy, and dress-up. man. She was executed at the age of 19 for sexual abuse and is today revered as a trans hero. Women who tried to drive in the Middle Ages and in the Fictional Middle Ages faced an uphill battle, despite their strong will.

Mary Kay Dodson, costume sketch of Virginia Field as Morgan Le Fay in Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur’s Court, 1948 (Paramount Pictures). Gouache and pencil on paper with fabric stand. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Fashion Council Fund, M.85.144.15
Digital image © 2021 Museum Associates / LACMA. Licensed by Art Resource, NY

in Game of thronesWhile there are many examples of powerful women on the show wielding influence using their feminine tricks and conforming to traditional standards of female beauty – including the Dragon Queen, Daenerys Targaryen; Queen of the North, Sansa Stark; And the Lion Queen, Cersei Lannister (who dropped her husband’s family name, the late King Robert Baratheon) – Sir Prynne of Tarth and Mrs. Arya Stark of Winterfell are truly groundbreaking figures in this regard. In the fictional world of Westeros, Ser Brienne in particular not only assumes the values ​​of chivalry, titles, and knighthood, but also pushes against the bisexuality in her deeply disturbing physical appearance of other characters (cisgender, heterosexual, and queer alike) with whom she has similar relationships. significance.

A counter-example of gender-bending from Arthur’s Monty Python story finds Lancelot violently spilling the blood of wedding guests in an attempt to save a “princess”—mistaken by a knight—but turns out to be weak, his gendered Prince Herbert, who does not want to marry but pursues studies and music. Such images flatten expectations for gender-based behavior that exclude any abnormal examples. Knights who do not bravely rush into battle and women interested in weapons do not get along with this duo.

Film book by Monty Python and the Holy Grail, 1975 (Python Pictures) © 1974 National Film Trustee Company Ltd / Shapero Rare Books

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