We asked members of Parergon‘s Early Career Committee to tell us about a Parergon article that really stood out for them and why they found it valuable for their research. In this post, Bronwyn Reddan talks about an innovative 2010 article by Helen Young that tackles important questions about methodology in approaches to medievalism.
One of the things I enjoy about Parergon is the way it showcases the vibrancy of contemporary medieval and early modern scholarship by publishing articles on a diverse range of topics. My research focuses on early modern women writers, but my interest is often piqued by pieces on the afterlives of literary texts regardless of the period.
One example is Helen Young’s 2010 Parergon article ‘Approaches to Medievalism: A Consideration of Taxonomy and Methodology through Fantasy Fiction’ (
https://doi.org/10.1353/pgn.0.0235 ). This offers a valuable methodological intervention in taxonomies of medievalism by proposing an approach that examines both the historical and imagined ‘medieval’ and the purpose and effects of medievalism. Young applies this approach to modern fantasy writing using case studies from Katharine Kerr’s genre fiction and two short stories by Neil Gaiman.
Through her analysis, Young demonstrates how an examination of the effects of medievalist practice reveal convergent layers of meaning that are not always captured by taxonomies of the use of medieval sources. Young’s more nuanced approach allows her to distinguish between different approaches and engagements with medieval source material by Kerr and Gaiman, while acknowledging similarities in their use of medievalism to engage in social commentary and critique.
Parergon can be accessed via Project MUSE (from Volume 1 (1983)), Australian Public Affairs – Full Text (from 1994), and Humanities Full Text (from 2008). For more information on the current issue and on submitting manuscripts for consideration, please visit https://parergon.org/