Thursday, June 5, 2014

Publication News

Advanced contracts for the first publications affiliated with the Tales After Tolkien Society have now been signed. Two volumes, edited by Helen Young, will appear with Cambria University Press, with planned publication next year.

Tales After Tolkien: Medievalism in Science Fiction and Fantasy

J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings was a defining work for Fantasy, substantially contributing to the creation of an audience, a publishing category, and what became conventions of the genre. It was also a major entry point for medievalism into twentieth-century popular culture, with impact reaching far beyond the genre which it helped make. The Middle Ages, particularly as filtered through Tolkien’s works, have haunted the Science Fiction genre since its inception; even the most politically progressive tales of the future reacted against the conservative, nostalgic medievalism they perceived in Lord of the Rings and its imitations. Fantasy has been imagined as imitation of Tolkien’s work, and Science Fiction as its antithesis, but such constructs vastly under-estimate the complexities of both genres and their interactions. In the twenty-first century, the boundaries between Fantasy and Science Fiction have become increasingly blurred, and both genres have arguably moved into a post-Tolkienian mode; Tolkien did not have the last word on medievalisms. ‘Medieval’ has multiple meanings in Fantasy and Science Fiction, which shift with genre convention, and which bring about their own changes as authors and audiences engage with what has gone before in the recent and deeper pasts. This volume explores the ways in which twenty-first century Science Fiction and Fantasy creatively re-imagine the Middle Ages, it shows how genre shapes contemporary engagements with the past, how those same engagements drive changes in the genres themselves. Tales After Tolkien will be the first edited collection dedicated to the intersections of medievalism and Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Beyond Tolkien: Medievalism, Genre, and Identity

Beyond Tolkien: Medievalism, Genre, and Identity explores the varied medievalisms of twenty-first century popular genres, shedding new light on the ways in which social constructions of identity are shaped through re-creations of the past. Medievalism in the twenty-first century is layered, folding into itself the practices, processes, and representations of earlier eras, as well as those of contemporary culture. A high proportion of popular re-workings of the Middle Ages are structured by the genre of any given creative work. Profit and pleasure define popular culture, and genres are a major framework organizing the production of both: creative industries use them to make the former, and consumers to help find the latter. The triple crown of income, entertainment, and convention far outweighs any commitment to history in genre medievalisms, leading Umberto Eco to, now infamously, rail against “avalanche of pseudo-medieval pulp in paperbacks.” Yet if some scholars still incline to Eco’s attitude, this collection explores rather than bemoans his avalanche, taking its depth and breadth to be an indication of how important the idea – if not the historical realities – of ‘the medieval’ is in contemporary articulations of identity. This collection brings together explorations of multiple different popular genres – Romance, Children and Young Adult, Historical, Folk Music, Cyberpunk, and Crime. 

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