Medievalism and Periodization in Frozen River and The Second Shepherds’ Play: Environment, Class, Miracle

  • Robert S. Sturges
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


Must medievalism directly invoke the Middle Ages? Scholars of medievalist films typically think so. Both classic works like Kevin Harty’s The Reel Middle Ages (whose subtitle demonstrates that the author’s concern is exclusively with the representation of medieval Europe)1 and the sophisticated body of scholarship devoted to medievalist film in more recent years almost invariably define the topic in terms of a medieval setting. David W. Marshall, for example, directly suggests that medievalism must indeed ask “how the Middle Ages are invoked … and for what purpose.”2 Lynn T. Ramey and Tison Pugh coin the term “‘medieval’ cinema” to define “modern films depicting the Middle Ages.”3 Bettina Bildhauer has recently contended that what she calls “medieval film” is best understood as a genre, one that consists of films set either “in the European Middle Ages” or, given her interest in the overlap between medievalism and Orientalism, in “the medieval Orient.”4 Laurie A. Finke and Martin B. Shichtman, on the other hand, resist the notion that such films constitute a genre in themselves, and consider two possible ways in which medievalist cinema may draw on different “generic frameworks”: one way is for films such as The Name of the Rose or Monty Python and the Holy Grail to “combine a contemporary genre with a medieval setting,” while the other is to “adapt medieval genres to the medium of film,” as in Rohmer’s Perceval le Gallois.5


Social Critique Mobile Home Pakistani Family Christmas Tree Recognizable Signifier 
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© Gail Ashton and Daniel T. Kline 2012

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  • Robert S. Sturges

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