Comic Medievalism

Comic Medievalism

Laughing at the Middle Ages

Louise D'Arcens





First full-length critical study of humour in medievalism.
The role of laughter and humour in the postmedieval citation, interpretation or recreation of the middle ages has hitherto received little attention, a gap in scholarship which this book aims to fill. Examining a wide range of comic texts and practices across several centuries, from Don Quixote and early Chaucerian modernisation through to Victorian theatre, the Monty Python films, television and the experience of visiting sites of "heritage tourism" such as the Jorvik Viking Museum at York, it identifies what has been perceived as uniquely funny about the Middle Ages in different times and places, and how this has influenced ideas not just about the medieval but also about modernity. Tracing the development and permutations of its various registers, including satire, parody, irony, camp, wit, jokes, and farce, the author offers fresh and amusing insight into comic medievalism as a vehicle for critical commentary on the present as well as the past, and shows that for as long as there has been medievalism, people have laughed at and with the middle ages.

Louise D'Arcens is Associate Professor in English Literatures at the University of Wollongong.

An e-book version of this title is available (9781782043751), to libraries through a number of trusted suppliers. See here for a full list of our partners.


6 black and white illustrations
219 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Paperback, 9781843844785, April 2017
Hardback, 9781843843801, July 2014
Library eBook
BISAC LIT011000, LIT004120, PER004030
Share on Facebook   Share on Twitter   Pin it   Share by Email

Related Titles

Table of Contents

Introduction: Laughing at, with, and in the Middle Ages
The Cervantean Paradigm: Comedy, Madness, and Meta-medievalism in Don Quixote
Scraping the Rust from the Joking Bard: Chaucer in the Age of Wit
Medievalist Farce as Anti-totalitarian Weapon: Dario Fo as Modern Guillare
Pre-modern Camp and Faerie Legshows: Travestying the Middle Ages on the Nineteenth-Century Stage
Up the Middle Ages: Performing Tradition in Comic Medievalist Cinema
'The past is a different and fairly disgusting country': The Middle Ages in recent British 'jocumentary'
Smelling the Past: Medieval Heritage Tourism and the Phenomenology of Ironic Nostalgia
Afterword: Laughing into the Future


This is an important book because, if there is a crossover academic topic that appeals to the broader public, comic medievalism is surely it. D'Arcens provides both an insightful investigation into the broad appeal the Middle Ages affords as well as the ideological functions it serves, while also offering quite useful theoretical and pedagogical structures for further inquiry. JOURNAL OF ENGLISH AND GERMANIC PHILOLOGY

[A] wide-ranging, perceptive and entertaining book. TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT

D'Arcens should be commended for writing a sophisticated book that explores why the Middle Ages continue to amuse. Highly recommended. CHOICE

Author Bio

Australian Research Council Future Fellow - Macquarie University, NSW

Also in Series