Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
First-Year Seminar


FYS Section A24. “Knights and Damsels and Dragons, Oh My!” The Middle Ages in Popular Culture

The Middle Ages continue to capture our imagination. More than ten million viewers regularly tune into the medievalesque HBO series Game of Thrones; the $281 million invested in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy brought in nearly $3 billion in box office revenue. Every decade brings new King Arthur and Robin Hood movies, while thousands of people worldwide dress up and reenact the Middle Ages, whether through the Society for Creative Anachronism, themed restaurants, or seasonal faires. How did we get here? How can we be nostalgic for a world in which we never lived? This first-year seminar will explore how the medieval world is presented through film, fiction, and participatory activities in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. We will not be concerned with learning about medieval history (what actually happened from 500 CE to 1500 CE), but rather with what popular culture today implies about that historical period and what it reveals about us as a society.

Dana M. PolanichkaDana M. Polanichka
Assistant Professor of History