Book launch: 'Medievalist Comics and the American Century' by Dr Chris Bishop

Date & time

5.30–7pm 28 October 2016

Location

ANU Classics Museum, Ground Floor, AD Hope Bldg, ANU

Speakers

Centre for Classical Studies

All are cordially invited to the launch of 'Medievalist Comics and the American Century' by Dr Chris Bishop from the ANU Centre for Classical Studies. The event will be held in the ANU Classics Museum from 5:30-7:00pm, with the official launch at 6:00pm.

The comic book has become an essential icon of the American Century, the period Republican Party Presidential nominee Donald Trump refers to when he talks about making "America great again".
 
This era is defined by optimism in the face of change and by recognition of the value of democracy and modernization. For many, the Middle Ages stand as an antithesis to these ideals, and yet medievalist comics have emerged and endured, even thrived alongside their superhero counterparts. Dr Chris Bishop, from the ANU School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics, charts the history of medievalist comics, setting them against a greater backdrop of modern American history.
 
Dr Bishop looks at the medievalist comic, with its stories, characters, settings, and themes drawn from the European Middle Ages:
  • Hal Foster's Prince Valiant emerged from an America at odds with monarchy, but still in love with King Arthur
  • Green Arrow remains the continuation of a long fascination with Robin Hood that has become as central to the American identity as it was to the British
  • The Mighty Thor reflects the legacy of Germanic migration into the United States
  • The rugged individualism of Conan the Barbarian owes more to the western cowboy than it does to knights in shining armour.
  • In the narrative of Red Sonja, we can trace a parallel history of feminism.
In his book, Dr Bishop argues that each comic's success (Prince Valiant and The Mighty Thor) and failure (Beowulf: Dragon Slayer) is a result of and an indicator of particular American preoccupations amid a larger cultural context.

Dr Chris Bishop teaches in the Centre for Classical Studies at the Australian National University. He has published widely on the history of late antiquity and the early Middle Ages, as well as comic book studies. In 2012 Bishop was awarded a Kluge Fellowship at the Library of Congress for his research.

The book is published by University Press of Mississippi.

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