Thierry Ehrmann

(Kay Rasmus Nielsen: The Lad in the Battle (fra bogen East of the Sun & West of the Moon, New York: G.H. Doran Company, 1922). Gengivet med tilladelse fra Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

English abstracts #79: medievalism

Ane Preisler Skovgaard: Such Stuff as the Middle Ages are Made On – Mediating the Medieval through The Game of Thrones Tapestry

The Game of Thrones Tapestry is a hand-woven and hand-embroidered tapestry which depicts key moments from the HBO TV series Game of Thrones in the style of the Bayeux Tapestry. By analysing particular aspects of its imagery and materiality, the article states that the Game of Thrones Tapestry confirms the way that the Middle Ages are also depicted in the TV series as a time of brutality, barbarism and permeable grotesque bodies, or in short, as the contrast to Modernity. With reference to Art historian Hans Belting’s image theory, it is suggested that one way in which the tapestry confirms this idea of the Middle Ages is through the properties of its medium because as a symbolic body it resembles the Grotesque Body by being permeable and transformable. Because of the tapestry’s ability to mediate the conception of the Middle Ages that characterises the fictional world of Game of Thrones in general, the article proposes that the tapestry can be regarded as a very suitable medium for the images of Game of Thrones which may also explain why this tapestry was created.

Keywords: Game of Thrones, the Middle Ages, tapestry, mediality, body

Pernille Hermann: Medievalism and Memory – Oehlenschläger and Nordic Mythology

This article investigates points of intersection between medievalism and memory. It mainly focuses on the formative period of the 19th century when the Norse past, the so-called Viking Age, as well as Old Norse mythology became integral parts of Danish national identity. The article homes in on Adam Oehlenschläger’s rejuvenation of the mythological materials and his reflections on the usefulness of the local mythologies, both for a national spirit and for poetic renewal. It is demonstrated that 19th century medievalism, with its focus on mythology, essentially was a project of cultural memory, that is, of recollecting knowledge from culture’s childhood, and, additionally, that poetry, and with that imagination, plays a prominent role for the construction of a meaningful past.

Keywords: medievalism, cultural memory, the art of memory, Norse mythology, Oehlenschläger

Mattias Gori Olesen: Modernity’s Sine Qua Non – Medieval Islamic Philosophy and Modern Reformism

The trope that modern Europe, emerging from its Dark Ages, is indebted to the Islamic Middle Ages is widespread. The article traces this ‘Islamic medievalism’ back to Muslim discourses of the late 19th and early 20th century. Focusing on the Egyptian intellectual Muhammad Lutfi Jum’a’s (1886-1953) portrayal of medieval Islam and its philosophers as well as his mobilization of these within a reformist ideology, it argues the following: Firstly, that Jum’a’s medievalism, perceiving medieval Islamic philosophy as the sine qua non of European modernity, is indebted to readings of European orientalist histories of philosophy, demonstrating how medievalism emerged from a global discursive formation. Secondly, that Jum’a mobilized the medievalist argument and the philosophers to argue for the possibility of an alternative counter-modern Muslim and Eastern modernity where the materialist and disenchanting tendencies of European modernity are negated – a vision he shared with other so-called Easternist thinkers, who conceived of Muslim countries as belonging to a broader East ranging from North Africa to Japan.

Keywords: Islam, modernity, Islamic philosophy, medievalism, easternism

Karl Christian Elvestad: Medieval Heroes and Norwegian Nationalism Before the Second World War

A prominent feature of Norwegian nationalism in the second half of the nineteenth century and in the first half of the twentieth century was its use of Norway’s Viking and medieval history. This use is visible in Norwegian popular and political culture of the period with, among other things, the Norwegianization of city names and the emergence of the Dragon style. This article examines the role of commemoration of Viking heroes in Norwegian street names and memory sites in the period 1850-1940. In doing so, the article identifies who were remembered, when and where, and shows how there was an increase in Viking and medieval street names in the lead-up to 1900. The article also shows how the Norwegian population embraced and partook in the remembrance of these heroes through the case studies of the restoration of Trondheim Cathedral for 1930 and the construction of Haraldshaugen monument in 1872. By comparing these case studies with the spread of street names referencing the medieval, this article shows how there is a correlation between the increase in street names and the popular contributions to the construction of national memorials which suggests an increased participation in the national community. This shows the link between the spread of nationalism and medievalism in Norway in the period leading up to the Second World War opening the way to examine Norwegian medievalism as a component of the popularisation of the idea of an independent Norway.

Keywords: heroes, memory landscape, agency, nationalism, Norway

Lone Kølle Martinsen: On the Battlefield with Prince Otto of Denmark: Gender Trouble in B.S. Ingemann’s Historical Novel from 1835

In his historical novel from 1835, Prince Otto of Denmark and his Time, the poet Bernhard Severin Ingemann (1789-1862) established the unknown, yet historical character, Prince Otto of Denmark (1310-1346) as the hero of the novel. This choice has puzzled critics ever since, due to the fact that Prince Otto seems less a potential king than his brother Valdemar IV (1320-1372) who actually became a king of Denmark. Georg Brandes (1842-1927) claimed that Otto mirrored Ingemann’s persona as weak and feminine, a “monk” not suited for kingship. In his ridicule of Prince Otto and Ingemann, Brandes reveals his ideas about gender, masculinity and femininity, but as this article seeks to show, such ideas are tied to time and place. Read from the distance of 2019, Ingemann’s feminine medieval hero might seem more modern and progressive than Brandes would have him. In this sense, the article is a piece of “queer medievalism”.

Keywords: B.S. Ingemann, queer theory, historical fiction, gender, Prince Otto of Denmark

Jens Tang Kristensen: The Middle Ages as a Political Strategy in Danish Spontaneous-Abstract Art

With particular focus on Danish artists Henry Heerup (1907-1993), Carl-Henning Pedersen (1913-2007) and Asger Jorn (1914-1973), this article illustrates how spontaneous-abstract artists in World War II-era Denmark helped to perpetuate an idealized image of the Middle Ages as a homogeneous and unspoiled social order. It is argued that these artists took medieval culture to represent an uninhibited, irrational art, which they believed had somehow remained unsullied and beyond the exploitation of modern society’s political and capitalist powers. It is further demonstrated that these artists’ idealizations tended to project onto the Middle Ages certain ideas about collectivization and the potentials of institutional critique; these commentaries resonated deeply with the volatile war and post-war political climate of their own times as well and had a clear lineage in earlier movements such as Gothic Revival, Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau and Symbolism. This article thus posits that the medievalism in and of Danish spontaneous-abstract art can no longer be seen as independent of and unrelated to the medievalisms of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Keywords: medieval art, spontaneous-abstract art, Helhesten, Cobra, Avantgarde

Trine Imer Kappel: The Holy Grail, the Heretics and the Crusade: Myths and Medievalism in Languedoc

The Languedoc region between the Rhône River and the Pyrenees is renowned for its medieval history. Or rather, its special version of medievalism. This article seeks to explain how and why the Albigensian Crusade (1209-1229) and the heretical Cathars came to be intertwined with myths about the Holy Grail after World War I by examining three different definitions of medievalism by Eco, Gentry & Müller, and Matthews. The theories approach medievalisms from different perspectives, but they all pay special attention to the political usage of medievalisms, which can be detected in all corners of the Albigensian Crusade historiography and fictional literature. This shows that a special Occitanian medievalism-hybrid has been created, which is constantly being developed and highlighted by both literature, myths and the region’s tourism industry. Finally, the article argues that the perceptions of medieval Languedoc and the myths surrounding the area reflects the challenges and political reality of the authors’ own time and experiences.

Keywords: Albigensian Crusade, identity history, heresy, Languedoc, Catharism

Berit Kjærulff: Freedom and King Valdemar! Political Medievalism in Levin Christian Sander’s Niels Ebbesen af Nörreriis (1797) and Malthe Conrad Bruun’s ”Niels Ebbesen. Tyrandræberen” (1797)

In the 1790s, the Danish publicity abounded with debate about freedom, republican ideas, and the Danish monarchy. This debate did not express itself as much in critique of the Crown as in terms of discursive attempts to reconcile republican ideas with the Danish absolute monarchy. In this article, it is argued that contemporary literature was an important instrument for carrying out such considerations. The article examines the use of the Danish medieval freedom fighter Niels Ebbesen to discuss the conditions of freedom under absolute rule in two pieces of literature. The article argues that Bruun’s ode “Niels Ebbesen. Tyrandræberen” (1797) dismisses the possibility of freedom under monarchy and suggests that the ode’s medievalism might have been a contributing factor in preventing legal proceedings against it (unlike other of Bruun’s state critical literature). It further argues that Sander’s drama Niels Ebbesen of Nörreriis (1797) uses medieval history to represent an ideal form of government which unites conditions for republican freedom with Danish monarchy. The overall argument is, then, that the two pieces of literature serve to unfold political considerations pertinent to the contemporary society.

Keywords: medievalism, politics, Danish literature, republican freedom, Niels Ebbesen