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Reception, Recovery, Recreation: The Singular Story of the Middle Ages in Australia

 Presentation 140x140


Guest presenter:
Louise D'Arcens, School of English Literatures and Philosophy, University of Wollongong, NSW

Lecture Title:
'Reception, Recovery, Recreation: The Singular Story of the Middle Ages in Australia'

Time and Date:
6.00pm on Thursday 16th August 2012

Gentilli Lecture Theatre (Geography 1.31), 1st Floor, Geography Building, UWA

This talk will explore the varied, surprising, and persistent afterlife of the Middle Ages in Australian culture. As the late eighteenth century was the foundational period of British settlement in the Australian colonies, High Enlightenment ideals have had an indisputable impact on Australian public life. Yet the story is not so simple. A growing recognition of the greater complexity of colonial Australia's relationship with the European past has led to a more nuanced account of its distinctive engagement with a cultural legacy stretching back to the medieval period. A picture is now emerging of a colonial culture in which medievalism - the creative modern response to the Middle Ages and adaptation of medieval concepts - has existed as a major aesthetic and cultural presence in Australian literature, architecture, political ceremony, theatre,art, and even sport. This thriving but often unacknowledged subculture, with its preoccupations with either romance and chivalry and folklore, or irrationality, disorder, and Gothic gloom, has been far more formative of settler Australia's cultural identity than has been recognized. Looking at examples from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this talk will explore just some of the large body of medievalism Australia has produced, and will discuss some of the ways we can understand its highly localized interpretations of medieval motifs, narrative forms, legends, and personages. 

About the speaker:
Louise D'Arcens is the author of Old Songs In The Timeless Land: Medievalism In Australian Literature 1840-1910 (Brepols/UWA Publishing, 2012). She is an Associate Investigator in CHE and has recently been awarded an ARC Future Fellowship for her project 'Comic medievalism and the modern world'. She will be a plenary speaker at the CMEMS/PMRG Conference, August 17-18.