‘Rex Quondam Rexque Futurus’: Reading Arthur Today
Ana Rita Martins & Diana Marques
School of Arts and Humanities, University of Lisbon | ULICES
In the work Travels in Hyperreality, Umberto Eco stated, “It seems people like the Middle Ages” (61). Considering the vast number of contemporary revisions on all aspects of medieval life, it seems Eco was right. From video games to films, novels to paintings, the medieval imaginary remains present in nearly every field of contemporary culture. In the academia, medievalism, “the study of responses to the Middle Ages at all periods since a sense of the mediaeval began to develop” (Shippey), is a growing field of study, which has spawned a number of publications over the last couple of years (D’Arcens 2016; Ashton 2015; Matthews 2015). Of the numerous characters, images and places retrieved or refashioned from the Middle Ages, King Arthur, “Rex Quondam Rexque Futurus” (Malory 689), stands today as he did in the medieval period as one of the weightiest figures.
As a point of fantasy identification where a group as large as a nation could locate itself (Cohen 69), Arthur is intrinsically linked to the British Isles. Yet, the stories around King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table have also been regarded as “[o]ne of the West’s few remaining master myths” and “capable of embodying almost any desire” (Haydock 165), which might explain why they have been revisited, reimagined, and remodelled over the last two centuries with unceasing interest. Arthur’s long reign still holds a strong pull over Western imagination and beyond, even in cases in which its retelling is not quite successful, as seems to have been the case of the most recent film adaptation Excalibur: The Legend of the Sword (Dir. Guy Richie, 2017).
For this special issue we are looking for new approaches to the Arthurian myth that consider how these stories have been refashioned through different forms and media to suit modern and post-modern society. We are especially interested in readings that take into account non-conventional approaches (such as queer, gender, racial, monster studies, etc.) and themes/voices thus far considered marginal. We seek papers and original critical articles that address these concerns from a variety of perspectives. Themes may include, but are not limited to:
Arthurian heroism today;
Arthur on screen (film, video-games, television);
Emotions: Medieval and/versus Modern;
Influence of Arthurian myth on contemporary medieval fantasy;
Medieval characters, modern concerns;
Medievalism and neomedievalism in Arthurian studies;
New versions of Excalibur;
The Arthurian myth beyond Britain;
Voices at (and from) the edge.
Papers of up to 8000 words using MLA referencing style, accompanied by an abstract within 300 words, must be submitted to the following email address email@example.com by SEPTEMBER 3, 2018.
Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. Of Giants. Sex, Monsters and the Middle Ages. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 1999.
Eco, Umberto. Travels in Hyperreality. Trans. William Weaver. San Diego: Harvest, 1986.
Haydock, Nickolas. Movie Medievalism. The Imaginary Middle Ages. Jefferson and London: McFarland & Company, 2008.
Malory, Thomas. Le Morte D’Arthur. Ed. Stephen H.A. Shepherd. New York and London: A Norton Critical Edition, 2004.
Shippey, Tom. The International Society for the Study of Medievalism. http://www.medievalism.net. Accessed Feb.15, 2017.