Dreaming suggests a subconscious attraction to the medieval. Whether this dreaming is a longing to return to a golden age or a remembrance of dark times, medieval images and stories are coming through into our waking, work-a-day world. Just as a snatch of radio song will immediately spark the memory of a dream, music, literature, and movies spark the question: why are we dreaming this? Eco attributes this dreaming to "a quest for our roots."1
In an essay on women's issues in medieval history, Susan Mosher Stuard stresses the importance of researching the roots of this dreaming. "Since European history, particularly the history of the enlightenment, the renaissance, and the Middle Ages was understood to be our heritage, and a proud tradition to own, investigating gender in this context might hold more consequence for contemporary women than raising the same question about more geographically remote societies." 2
Eco maintains we have been dreaming the Middle Ages since they ended in the late fifteenth century. American medievalists trace this dreaming from the founding of America to the quest of cowboys into the West and the Southern gentleman's code of honor to the stories of Mark Twain and Longfellow's translation of Dante as well as all over nineteenth century gothic architecture. This varied dreaming literally stretches across our landscape.
To facilitate discussion on the many varieties of medievalism, Eco has created ten categories with a brief descriptions or examples. Other examples will be linked to these categories. Please send examples you encounter to email@example.com.
- 1"Dreaming of the Middle Ages" in Travels in Hyperreality, HBJ, 1986, page 65.
- 2 "A New Dimension? North American Scholars Contribute Their Perspective," Rosenthal, Bernard and Paul E. Szarmach, ed. Medievalism in American Culture: Papers of the Eighteenth Annual Conference of the Center for Medieval and Early Renaissance Studies, Binghamton: Center for Medieval and Early Renaissance Studies, State University of New York at Binghamton, 1989, page 78.
- This page maintained by Ann Hahn Buechner (firstname.lastname@example.org); last updated September 18, 1996
- Copyright ©1996, Ann Hahn Buechner