Welcome to Australian Popular Medievalism, one of the specialist research projects within AustLit's Australian Popular Fictions Research Project. It explores medievalism in contemporary adult popular fiction by means of a dataset of annotated bibliographical records which rate the directness and penetration of medieval ideas and images. Records in the dataset relate to novels published between 1995 and 2010.
The Australian Popular Medievalism project was established in 2009 to gauge the extent and importance of medieval images and ideas in Australian popular fiction. Recent work in the field of Australian medievalism has not yet investigated Australian popular fiction closely. This research project demonstrates how strongly Australian popular fiction engages with the medieval.
This dataset began life as a thought that if, over the last 15 years, 250 or so literary novels had been published that featured contemporary New York City as a setting, it would have attracted critical attention (one might argue that even 25 such novels would have done so). What this dataset exposes is that more than 250 popular novels feature Europe in the Middle Ages: either as an actual setting, or as a source for adapting images and ideas. In fact, recent Australian popular fiction offers perhaps the most sustained engagement with the Middle Ages in Australian literature, and certainly in Australian popular culture.
For more background on the genesis of this research, read Kim Wilkins's peer-reviewed article, Bell, Book and Battleaxe: Australian Popular Mediaevalism, which makes the following points:
'Popular medievalism constitutes a large segment of contemporary Australian literature, a segment that has not yet been sufficiently explored, perhaps because the Middle Ages seem a long way removed from contemporary Australian culture, and perhaps because popular fiction has traditionally found it difficult to attract critical attention.'