Saint George and the Dragon (detail), from Book of Hours, about 1450–1455, Master of Guillebert de Mets. Tempera colors, gold leaf, and ink, on parchment. Getty Museum, Ms. 2 (84.ML.67), fol. 18v

Mythical Pasts, Fantasy Futures: The Middle Ages in Modern Visual Culture


Thursday, Friday, September 8 - September 9



To attend the Day 1: September 8 keynote panel, register here.
To attend the Day 2: September 9 symposiumregister here.

The visual and conceptual relationships between modern fantasy, popular culture, and the medieval era are a lively area of inquiry in a variety of cultural studies disciplines. They are also the focus of two current or upcoming exhibitions: The Fantasy of the Middle Ages (Getty Museum) and J. R. R. Tolkien: The Art of the Manuscript (Haggerty Museum of Art). This online symposium brings together an interdisciplinary group of academics and museum professionals to examine how the Middle Ages appear in the contemporary imagination, and how its aesthetics have inspired a wide variety of media.

Co-organized by the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles and the Haggerty Museum of Art, Milwaukee.

Thursday, September 8, 2022
3:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m. PT / 5:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m. CT

Keynote Panel: This keynote panel features scholars of medieval and modern fantasy visual cultures and will explore current issues and debates in this growing field of research.

Roland Betancourt is professor of art history at the University of California, Irvine. In the 2016-2017 academic year, he was the Elizabeth and J. Richardson Dilworth Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

Betancourt's work has looked at the role of Byzantine art in modern and contemporary art and popular culture, as in his edited volume Byzantium/Modernism: The Byzantine as Method in Modernity (Leiden: Brill, 2015). His first monograph Sight, Touch, and Imagination in Byzantium (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018) proposes a new understanding of theories of vision in the ancient Greek and Byzantine worlds by distancing sight from touch and placing a central focus on the workings of the imagination. He is also the author of a forthcoming book Byzantine Intersectionality on the intersection of race, sexuality, and gender identity in the medieval world, and another book on the recitation and performance of the Gospel in the Divine Liturgy, looking at relationships between words and images in manuscripts and in the space of the Byzantine church.

His research also covers contemporary concerns, including an interest in new media, online culture, and fandom (i.e. YouTube and YouTubers) as well as an ongoing book project on simulacral spaces and theme parks (i.e. Las Vegas and Disneyland).

Andrea Wolk Rager is a specialist in 19th-century British and European art, with a particular focus on the work of painter and decorative artist Edward Burne-Jones. Her research interests include Pre-Raphaelitism and Aestheticism in 19th-century Britain, the history of photography from the 19th century to the present, art and imperialism in the long 19th century, and the relationship between art, the environment, and eco-criticism from the 19th century to the present.

Dr. Wolk Rager’s publications include “‘Smite this Sleeping World Awake’: Edward Burne-Jones and The Legend of the Briar Rose,” which appeared in the Spring 2009 issue of the journal Victorian Studies, and the essay, “Purchasing Paradise: Nostalgic Longing and the Painter of Light™,” which appeared in the volume Thomas Kinkade: The Artist in the Mall (2011), edited by Alexis Boylan for Duke University Press. She has also published several reviews of recent publications on artists such as G. F. Watts and Walter Crane, as well as an extended consideration of the recent exhibition The Pre-Raphaelite Lens: British Photography and Painting, 1848–1875 (National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC) that will appear in the forthcoming issue of Victorian Literature and Culture.

Bryan C. Keene (Moderator) is an assistant professor of art history at Riverside City College and a former associate curator of manuscripts at the J. Paul Getty Museum. He specializes in Italian manuscript illumination and codex cultures of the global Middle Ages.

Friday, September 9, 2022

9:00 a.m. PT / 11:00 a.m. CT

9:30 a.m.–11:00 a.m. PT / 11:30–1:00 p.m. CT
Panel 1: The Stuff of Fantasy

  • Alexandra Alvis, “The Idea of the ‘Medieval’ Book in Magic: The Gathering”
  • Francesco Bernuzzi, “Heraldry and Fantasy Fiction”
  • Kristine M. Larsen, “Images of the Alchemical Laboratorium in the Medievalist World of The Witcher”

Break (30 minutes)

11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. PT / 1:30 p.m.–2:30 p.m. CT
Lightning Talks
  • Angelica Verduci, “Frank Dicksee, La Belle Dame Sans Merci, 1902”
  • Nadège Le Lan, “Stage set of Le Chevalier de Neige, opera by Georges Delerue and Boris Vian, 1957”
  • Ryan Linkof, “Gone Berserk: Frank Frazetta and the Pulp Fantasy of the Super Barbarian”
  • Susana Montañés-Lleras, “The Loom and the Fountain: Reading Edward Burne-Jones's The Garden Court”
  • Dayanna Knight, “The Binding of Fenrir, Lokasenna stanza 38"

Break (30 minutes)

1:00 p.m.–2:30 p.m. PT / 3 p.m.–4:30 p.m. CT
Panel 2: Illuminating Identities
  • Blair Agpar, “The Folly of the ‘Great Man Theory’ in Modern Medieval Media: Crusader Kings III”
  • Elisabeth Buzay, "An Illuminated Bande Dessinée?: The Sumptuous (Neo)medievalist Art of Cyril Pedrosa and Roxanne Moreil’s L'âge d’or"
  • Baylee E. Woodley, “What a Knight: Exploring the possibilities of anachronistic fantasy and cross-temporal drag"

Break (15 minutes)

2:45 p.m.–3:30 p.m. PT / 4:45 p.m.–5:30 p.m. CT
Concluding Discussion

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