TOPIC: THE LEGACY OF THE MEDIEVAL IN MODERN CULTURE

The legacy of the Middle Ages remains prominent in our cultural mythology, and the idea of the medieval links such seemingly different phenomena as the goth movement and the war on terrorism. Modern culture often uses both positive and negative visions of the Middle Ages to shape its ideas about itself: witness the invocation the medieval Black Death in relation to bioterrorism warnings, or the continuing use of the phrase "knight in shining armor" to label ideal masculinity. In this class, we will pursue an inquiry into the various ways in which the medieval is employed in popular culture. In other words, we will investigate how modern Western culture tries to define its own values by imagining its relationship to its medieval past. We will examine a range of sources, including films, popular fiction, and modern subcultures influenced by the ideas of the medieval, in order to take in many different views of the Middle Ages at work in our current culture.