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Going Medieval: How Pop Culture Reflects the Past

Evening Program

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Thursday, November 12, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1J0057
This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
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  • This program is part of our Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
  • Platform: Zoom
  • Online registration is required.
  • If you register multiple individuals, you will be asked to supply individual names and email addresses so they can receive a Zoom link email. Please note that if there is a change in program schedule or a cancellation, we will notify you via email, and it will be your responsibility to notify other registrants in your group.

The Middle Ages are everywhere in our pop culture. Just look at “Game of Thrones” and the latest Hollywood blockbusters. Knights and castles are all over video, tabletop, and role-playing games. And we can spend a day at a medieval-style festival and an evening at a theme restaurant featuring jousts, swordplay, and revelry.

Why are we so culturally obsessed with this distant time period? What, if anything, can these pop-culture rehashes of history tell us about the past? And perhaps more revealing, what can the ways that we re-imagine the medieval era tell us about how we see ourselves today?

Join medievalist and sociologist Paul B. Sturtevant as he embarks on a colorful journey through the castles, cathedrals, and battlefields dreamed up by contemporary culture. He examines how history is not just history: that what we remember, and how we remember it, is always a mirror that reflects ourselves.

Sturtevant is an historian and social scientist at the Smithsonian, editor-in-chief of The Public Medievalist online magazine, and author of two books that examine the intersections between the Middle Ages and the present day.

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