Saturday, September 22, 2018

Sponsored Sessions for MAPACA 2018

Here are the updated details on our two sponsored sessions for MAPACA's conference this coming November. Registration information is available at

29th Annual Conference of the Mid-Atlantic Popular & American Culture Association, Lord Baltimore Hotel, Baltimore, Maryland

Monsters and Medievalism 2018 (Medieval & Renaissance Area / Panel)

Sponsored by the Association for the Advancement of Scholarship and Teaching of the Medieval in Popular Culture for the Medieval & Renaissance Area of the Mid-Atlantic Popular & American Culture Association, organized by Michael A. Torregrossa (Independent Scholar)

Saturday, November 10, 10:30 am to 11:45 am (Salon E Calvert Ballroom)

Monsters remain fascinating subjects, and intense discussion in recent years has focused on their representation in medieval texts. However, scholars have largely neglected the post-medieval afterlife of these horrors. Despite this disregard, the monsters found in such medievalisms have merit in our classrooms and research; we need to promote their exploits along with those of the creatures existing within medieval artifacts. This panel will highlight connections between medieval monstrosities and their post-medieval incarnations and successors to showcase both continuity and change in addressing how terrors rooted in the medieval have been portrayed and how their inheritors have been developed.

Session chair: Carl Sell


1. The Role of Dragons in Quests: Medieval Romances and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Samantha Knepper (Independent Scholar)


Since the rise of video games in popular culture people have been exposed to new medievalisms as a way to experience the medieval world. With technology developing quickly and the popularity of the video games that are experiential medievalisms, there is room for more exploration of what compels us to be drawn to the Middle Ages. Video games based on a “medieval” setting often follow the same quest cycle narrative of the medieval romances along with having the same or similar monsters for the hero to interact with and defeat, including dragons. Investigating the role of dragons in the romances along with the role of dragons in video games can reveal the similarities between ourselves and our medieval ancestors and highlight the changes. This paper aims to create a deeper understanding of not only medieval culture but our own culture by examining the similarities and the differences in the uses of dragons in the Medieval Romances and the game Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. This paper argues that that the role dragons has expanded in Skryim, which is a reflection of Skyrim as a game that only appears to have a medieval European setting. Revealing what, as humans, we share with our medieval past, and how our current culture has changed.

Samantha Knepper has an M.A. in History from Norwich University. She is currently an independent scholar and working on several projects, including investigating how medieval warrior cultures dealt with death and the similarities with how warriors deal with death today.

2. The Queer and The Dead: Medieval Revenants and Their Afterlives in In the Flesh

Eli Mason(Concordia University)


Following in the footsteps of Judith Halberstam, Harry Benshoff, and Bernadette Marie Calafell, this paper will combine queer and monster studies in order to explore the ways in which monstrous figures have been used to represent queer marginalities from the Middle Ages to the present day. Central to this discussion will be an examination of how queer people have, in a twentieth and twenty-first-century context, reclaimed “the monstrous” as a means of navigating and expressing queer identity in opposition to heteronormative and cisnormative cultures.

Though instances of this type of reclamation are varied and widespread, encompassing creative efforts as diverse as Lady Gaga’s role as “Mother Monster” to a largely queer fanbase, as well as the emergence and popularity of gay werewolf erotica, this paper proposes to consider the unlikely figure of the zombie, and its development from the medieval Norse tradition of the draugr, to the use of the zombie as a means of articulating queer identities in the BBC television series, In the Flesh (2013-14). Beginning with an examination of how queer bodies were constructed as monstrous in medieval taxonomies such as the Liber Monstrorum, this discussion will go on to compare the liminal status of both categories of embodiment, with particular emphasis on the liminal status of Norse revenants as beings existing at the threshold of life and death. The paper will argue that, through a withholding of the category of “human” from queer bodies such as those presented in the Liber Monstrorum, queer people have historically been denied both personhood, as well as the status of truly “living.” In the 2013-4 television show In the Flesh, the figure of the revenant embodies queer experiences of isolation, dehumanization, and social control. In the context of the series, zombification is a treatable (though not curable) state, which allows its central characters to “pass” as human with the help of medical treatment, and copious makeup. It is only by “passing” that the show’s zombie characters are tolerated by the human characters, despite that the zombies no longer pose a threat to the humans. As the show’s central character is both an ex-zombie and a gay man, In the Flesh draws clear parallels between the experience of being queer, and that of being monstrous. The repression of queer culture, and queer performativity, is symbolized by the characters’ normatizing transformation from revenant to human. Throughout the show’s two seasons, themes of posthumanism and monstrosity are partnered with an extended discussion of queer representation, that allows the narrative to question the nature of whether it is better to embrace, reclaim, and transform the figure of the monster, or to conform to cis and heteronormative standards of presentation.

In the spirit of the panel, this paper aims to showcase the “afterlife” of two embodied experiences constructed as monstrous in the medieval context: the queer, and the revenant. By demonstrating the ways in which the two intersect in a modern narrative context, this paper will highlight how monstrous traditions are being reshaped to express queer realities.

Elliot Mason is a third-year PhD student in Concordia University's Department of Religions and Cultures, working under the supervision of Dr. Lorenzo DiTommaso. He has completed Master’s degrees in Russian language and literature at the University of Waterloo, Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto, and Religious Studies at the Memorial University of Newfoundland. Elliot’s previous research has focused on the biblical sea monster Leviathan, as well as the fallen angel Azazel. As a queer, trans person, he is particularly interested in the ways in which the history of monstrosity intersects with queer marginalities, and especially the re-purposing of historical monsters as queer icons.

3. More Zombies for the Matter of Britain? The Walking Dead in Recent Arthurian Fiction

Michael A Torregrossa (Independent scholar)

Building upon and expanding work begun as part of a presentation at the 2013 MAPACA conference, this paper will highlight further meetings between zombie characters and elements from the Matter of Britain and explicate how these contacts reflect an ongoing sub-tradition of Arthurian horror-themed fiction. The zombies of the Matter of Britain appear in a small but, nonetheless, interesting corpus and, similar to their fellow undead interact with figures associated with Arthur’s court, transform the denizens of Camelot into zombies, like themselves, and engage in quests for Holy Grails. As previously explored, zombies first make contact with the Matter of Britain in the 1940s and do not reemerge in Arthurian texts until the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, decades marked by a steady revival of the zombie figure in mass media. In recent years, the walking dead have interacted with Arthurian figures and artifacts in increasing innovative ways and deserve our attention as being more than simple mash-ups. Some offer new representations of Arthurian fantasy, as depicted in “The Avalon Trap” arc (2012) of Paul Cornell’s Demon Knights comic book series and Rob Williams’s Revolutionary War: Knights of Pendragon comic book (2014), but others attempt to depict horrific events in post-Arthurian eras, as occurs in Mark Atkin’s film Knight of the Dead (2013) and David R. Flores’s Dead Future King e-comic (2012-2015). Unlike Ron Wolfe and Dusty Higgins’s Knights of the Living Dead comic, the other major work of zombie-themed Arthuriana of the 2010s (and the central piece of my earlier investigation), these four texts do not effect radical change of the tradition, yet they still offer insight into how horror tropes can be adapted into an Arthurian context to bring new life to a fifteen-hundred-year-old legend that few seem to connect with today.

Michael A. Torregrossa is a medievalist whose research interests include adaptation, Arthuriana, comics and comic art, medievalism, monsters, and wizards. He is founder of both The Alliance for the Promotion of Research on the Matter of Britain and The Association for the Advancement of Scholarship and Teaching of the Medieval in Popular Culture and outgoing Fantastic Area Chair for the Northeast Popular Culture/American Culture Association.

The Comics Get Medieval 2018: A Continuing Celebration of Medieval-themed Comics (a Round Table) (Medieval & Renaissance Area / Round table)

Sponsored by the Association for the Advancement of Scholarship and Teaching of the Medieval in Popular Culture for the Medieval & Renaissance Area of the Mid-Atlantic Popular & American Culture Association, organized by Michael A. Torregrossa (Independent Scholar)

Saturday, November 10, 2:45 pm to 4:00 pm (Salon E Calvert Ballroom )

This special round-table session is sponsored by The Association for the Advancement of Scholarship and Teaching of the Medieval in Popular Culture. The session revives the successful Comics Get Medieval series after a multi-year absence and seeks to foster communication between comics scholars, medievalists, medievalismists, and specialists in other aspects of popular culture studies through the study of “medieval comics”: any example of the comics medium (e.g. panel cartoons, comic strips, comics books, comics albums, band dessinée, graphic novels, manga, webcomics, comics to screen/screen to comics, and other related media) that feature medieval themes either in stories set during the Middle Ages or in stories presenting some element of the medieval in anachronistic settings (pre-medieval or post-medieval eras or medieval-inspired secondary worlds).

Round Table Discussions will include:

Session Chair: Scott Manning (American Military University)

1. “Co-Starring Beowulf?: An Alternative Version of Beowulf in Jumbo Comics No. 50 (April 1943)”

Michael A. Torregrossa (Independent Scholar)

The story of Beowulf is one of the greatest legends of English culture and has inspired a wealth of texts that attempt to retell a traditional version of his deeds. However, there are also a number of works—most largely unnoticed by admirers of the hero—that introduce new characters into events from Beowulf’s life and attempt to make the Geat into a secondary figure in his own story. One of the earliest version of this motif appeared in Jumbo Comics No. 50 (April 1943), an American comic published during the Golden Age of the medium. Like other comics produced at the time, the story appears intended to educate readers about Beowulf, but the creators do not follow a Classics Illustrated approach and give readers a straight retelling. Instead, they adapt elements from Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and bring modern-day figures into the Anglo-Saxon past, where these intruders to the story in effect alter history to create a divergent account of the epic that attempts to place a new hero in the dominant role once held by Beowulf. This presentation offers the first extended discussion of the Beowulfiana of Jumbo Comics No. 50 to offer suggestions on how this forgotten work can be of value in our research and teaching about Beowulf and its afterlife.

Michael A. Torregrossa is a medievalist whose research interests include adaptation, Arthuriana, comics and comic art, medievalism, monsters, and wizards. He is founder of both The Alliance for the Promotion of Research on the Matter of Britain and The Association for the Advancement of Scholarship and Teaching of the Medieval in Popular Culture and outgoing Fantastic Area Chair for the Northeast Popular Culture/American Culture Association.

2. “ ‘Ka is a Wheel’: The Arthurian Cycle and its Context in Marvel’s Stephen King’s Dark Tower”

Carl Sell (Indiana University of Pennsylvania)

Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series has distinguished itself as a series without an end and without a clear beginning; however, Marvel’s series Stephen King’s Dark Tower, which ran from 2007 to 2017 under the supervision of King himself, serves as a starting point to the adventures of Roland of Gilead, last in the line of Arthur Eld, the great king of All-World. Beginning with The Gunslinger Born, the Arthurian cycle repeats itself anew with Steven Deschain and the Affiliation, In-World’s incarnation of the Round Table and his treacherous advisor Marten Broadcloak, the man who steals Steven’s wife. As Roland’s story unfolds, he is caught up in the ka, the fate, of his long line, the fate of King Arthur Eld himself: death, renewal, betrayal, and the endless quest for the Dark Tower, the Grail-like salvation of All-World. Roland and his ka-tet, Cuthbert Allgood and Alain Johns, the stand-ins for Sir Kay and Sir Bedivere to Roland’s Arthur, are caught up in the Arthurian mythos and its endless cycle—ka, after all, is a wheel—and their journey together complicates the standard Arthurian narrative and blends character roles, motivations, and tropes found within more standard Arthurian adaptations. The story of King Arthur—as Arthur Eld—is ever-present in the world of Stephen King’s Dark Tower and in the gunslingers themselves as the new model of Arthurian chivalry.

Carl Sell is a PhD student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He studies the Arthurian Legend and modern adaptations of the legend as well as adaptations of Robin Hood. He is interested in all things medieval and Early Modern.

3. “I’m Holding Out For A Hero: The Disparity Between Male Warriors and Valkyries in Norse Mythology and the Depiction of Valkyrie in the 21st Century”

Lindsey Poe (Georgia College and State University)

Norse mythology has many depictions of warriors. The stories we have today are presumably long held Icelandic oral tales that had previously been passed on generation by generation. The eddas, for instance, are old Norse oral myths that were written down in the 13th century by Snori Sturluson. The myths are traditionally pagan, however Snori Sturluson was compiling them while priests were attempting to convert the people of Iceland to Christianity. As such, the works became a blend of both Christian and pagan beliefs. While Icelandic peoples were still worshipping the Norse gods, Snori wove in a watered down version of the Christian message in his written Edda. Throughout these texts, we see descriptions of god-like men such as Thor and Loki as well as characters like Sigurd, who simply represent a traditional warrior male. Interestingly enough, some women like Brunhild are elevated and are portrayed as strong, battle ready individuals. They exist as supernatural beings who wield power over life and death. These warrior women are known as Valkyries. They are not merely women, rather, Valkyries hold a third classification of gender and exist outside of the binary. Through “The Elder Edda,” “The Prose Edda,” and “The Saga of the Volsungs” the characterizations of these two classes of warriors will be broken down and their differences analyzed. In addition, the Valkyries of literature will be compared to the depictions of these women in films and comics, particularly in the Marvel universe.

Lindsey Poe graduated with her bachelor’s degree in English Literature with a minor in Spanish from Georgia College and State University in the Spring of 2017. Following graduation, she applied to and got accepted at her alma mater, where she is currently in her second year of graduate school, working towards a master’s in English.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

CFP International Association for Robin Hood Studies (9/15/18; Kalamazoo ICMS 2019)

A notice from the Robin Hood Scholars Google Group. Please consider submitting a proposal, if you can:

A reminder that the International Association for Robin Hood Studies is sponsoring three sessions at the 2019 International Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo (ICMS 2019), 9-12 May 2019. The session themes are: "Rhetoric of Resistance," "Social Bandits," and "Animal Crime."

The organizers of these three sessions are still accepting abstracts and PIFs for consideration.

See below for details and contact information about each session.

CFP: ICMS 2019 "Rhetoric of Resistance"

Though banished from society for real or alleged crimes, the deeds of outlaws are celebrated in popular narratives and ballads. Marginalized figures, they exist on the fringes of civilization in an adversarial relationship with the representatives of the law. In this session, we will address the political status of the Green Wood as a rhetorical concept of "safe harbor," a refuge for the displaced, the ostracized, and the dispossessed. We welcome papers on medieval narratives and ballads of such celebrated outlaws as Robin Hood, Hereward, Eustace the Monk, and Fouke Fitz Waryn, among others, and aim to address the ethical, political, and ecological issues raised by the rhetoric of this body of medieval literature. Collectively, the session and its participants will consider how outlaw rhetoric comments upon the justice system and its representatives, thereby formulating a medieval rhetoric of resistance.

This is a paper session (15-20 minute papers) for the 2019 International Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo. Please send abstracts (150-250 words) and a completed PIF form (see links below) to Lydia Kertz at lydia[dot] with a subject line "Rhetoric of Resistance" by September 15th, 2018.

CFP: ICMS 2019 “Social Bandits”

The idea of the social bandit, aka the good thief or the noble robber, reaches back millennia and is found around the globe. The social bandit, whether an individual or a group, historical or fictional, is seen by a segment of a society as protecting and assisting them. Even an historical social bandit may develop into myth or legend, and the legend lives and changes long after the originator is dead. The legend of a fictional social bandit likewise shifts over time; as Brian Alderson states that while many years ago he wrote that “’Every generation gets the Robin Hood that it deserves,’” he now believes that, “Every generation surely creates for itself the Robin Hood that it needs” (Forward to Kevin Carpenter’s 1995 Robin Hood: The Many Faces of that Celebrated English Outlaw, p. 9). This could be said not only of Robin Hood but of all fictional and even historical social bandits who are perceived as robbing the rich to help the poor in some way or other.

This session seeks 15- to 20-minute papers on any aspect of the social bandit, with special consideration given to papers focusing on the medieval and early modern periods. It is also worth remembering that one person’s social bandit is another’s common criminal; consider the viewpoint of the Sheriff of Nottingham, for example, or other antagonists, as well as that of people kindly disposed towards the outlaw.

Please send a short proposal and completed PIF form (see links below) to Sherron Lux at BY noon (Central Time) on Wednesday 12 September 2018.

CFP: ICMS 2019 “Animal Crime”

Outlaws and outlawry are commonly associated with the human; yet, throughout the medieval period, animals were both the subject of crime, as when they were stolen, maimed, or killed, and its perpetrator; for example, the sow and piglets put on trial for murder for killing a 5-year old boy in Savigny, France in 1457. Documented legal trials from a variety of cultures featuring pigs, goats, horses, dogs and cows suggest that medieval understandings of the moral agency, ethics, and politics of outlaws and outlawry was decidedly not simply a human affair, but extended to our animal counterparts. Papers might consider the historically-documented or literary or textual (re)imagining of a trial or set of trials featuring an animal or animals; how animals interact with outlaw humans; the moral agency of animals on trial; the ethics of putting animals on trial; the ethics of outlawing animals; how animals can be constructed as outlaws philosophically, legally, or by other means, how and where animals appear in laws, the treatment of animal outlaws, animal exiles, and similar.

Send abstracts and a completed PIF form (see links below) to Dr. Melissa Ridley Elmes at by 15 September, 2018.

2019 Medieval Congress Participant Information Form (PIF):
or see for a form in Microsoft Word.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

CFP Medievalism in Popular Culture (10/1/2018; Washington DC 4/17-20/2019)

Apologies again for the belated posting:

CFP: Medievalism in Popular Culture

PCA/ACA 2019 National Conference April 17th – 20th, 2019 – Washington, D.C.

The Medievalism in Popular Culture Area (including Anglo-Saxon, Robin Hood, Arthurian, Norse, and other materials connected to medieval studies) accepts papers on all topics that explore either popular culture during the Middle Ages or transcribe some aspect of the Middle Ages into the popular culture of later periods. These representations can occur in any genre, including film, television, novels, graphic novels, gaming, advertising, art, etc. For this year’s conference, I would like to encourage submissions on some of the following topics:

• The Arthurian World

• Medievalism and Superheroes

• “Medieval” as a social and political signifier

• Medievalism in Game of Thrones

• Representations of medieval/Renaissance nobility and royalty in television (Reign, The White Princess, Wolf Hall, etc.)

• Robin Hood

• Medievalism and Teaching

• Medievalism in Various Forms of Gaming

• Anglo-Saxon or Viking Representations

• Medievalism in Novels/Short Stories/Poems

If your topic idea does not fit into any of these categories, please feel free to submit your proposal as well. I would like to encourage as much participation as possible, and depending on submissions, I may rearrange the topic groupings.

All papers will be included in sessions with four presenters each, so plan to present on your topic for no more than 15 minutes, inclusive of any audio or visual materials.

Panel submissions are also welcome on any topic of medievalism. If you would like to propose a panel, please submit your complete panel to me directly at Individual papers will then have to be submitted to the PCA online system (see below).

Submission requirements:

Please submit a title and a 250 word abstract to All submissions must be directed to the online database. Be sure to indicate whatever audio/visual needs you may have. Traditionally, all rooms at the PCA/ACA conference provide a projection screen with sound capability. Presenters are required to bring their own laptops and any special connectors.

Deadline for submission: October 1st, 2018

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Christina Francis, Associate Professor of English, Bloomsburg University, at